Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Visitors Welcome. (Now here's your muzzle.)

Outside of the Hunters Creek Stake Orlando LDS meetinghouse, where I was interrogated by the leadership on 16 Sep, is a sign like that in front of almost all Mormon chapels.

Mormon.org, an official church site, says:
Our primary family worship service is called sacrament meeting. ... Visitors are welcome to attend. ...Visitors are also welcome to attend other Sunday meetings that precede or follow sacrament meeting

There are no qualifications listed in their invitation.  It does not say that you must dress or act a certain way (there are recommendations and expectations of white shirt,dark tie, conservative dress).  It does not say the media is not allowed to attend, observe and even go home and report.  

During my 45-minute interrogation, the stake president told me he didn't like that I was coming to church with "views that you are propagating in our midst here." I explained that I hadn't expressed my views in the church.  He corrected himself that it was my "derogatory writings" that were the problem.  They told me that "this is not a witch hunt" and that they are "protecting the flock from wolves in sheep clothing."

My attire whenever I attended was definitely not sheepish.  In fact the blog takes the word "Paisley" in its title to represent that I in fact am standing apart. I was not hiding or pretending or infiltrating. When I introduced myself around, I made it clear that I was an inactive member returning to see what's what in the LDS church.  For all intents and purposes I am a visitor, but with a dusty membership card.

The muzzle is for members.  Non-members, reporters, and other visitors--whatever their motive may be--are allowed polite attendance at any one of the over 6000 meetinghouses and can at will write about their experiences in any flavor, color or pattern they like.  If you are a member, even a long-time-gone visiting member, you must immediately don the muzzle in talking.

Was it really my briefing about my experience at the ward that caused the furor?  In order to divert from the publicity my writings on Romney have caused the Mormons, Scott Gordon, the president of FAIR, LDS dame-de-soi, is changing the subject.  Gordon turned me in because, he claims, I was subverting members in my writings.  I've already commented on that in War Worn.  But I want to point out that again the only two links I had sent the member I am alleged to have subverted were one from his LDS-defense website, and another from one talking about the same issue from a less favorable perspective.  This is called choice.  If the leaders & Scott had their way, choice would be between LDS.ORG and MORMON.ORG.  What was it that Lucifer proposed as his plan of salvation?  Oh yeah, take away choice...


So I ask, are visitors welcome?  If we don't wear black-n-white or stripes, or quiet flowered dresses will we be in the council's gun-sights?  If we dare bring up both viewpoints on an obviously controversial point of doctrine or history are we heretics just for using standard, well acceptable discussion protocol? Is it really more enlightening and polite to ignore facts that may alter the outcome of the discussion, just to spare the institution embarrassment?

What kind of visitors is the LDS Church really looking for?


26 comments:

  1. I would suggest that the LDS Church is not looking for a "type" of visitor, but that some "reasonable man" (common sense) standards would apply.

    As a visitor you are a guest and expected to act as a guest. You are not allowed to openly carry weapons, make threats, disrupt meetings, dress in a manner that is intentionally provocative or inappropriate ("No shirt, no shoes no service") teach or advocate apostasy (including plural marriage) either inside the Church or out, and other things like that. I know, personally, that in certain rare cases, where an individual has shown themselves to be untrustworthy in these areas, they are disinvited.

    While there may be some exceptions, I don't think the LDS Church is particularly unusual in this regard -- that visitors are to comport themselves with some degree of reasonably friendly or neutral and polite behavior.

    Having said that, I don't think you were disinvited. If you felt uncomfortable though, it might be that they felt uncomfortable with you as well.

    After all, you are hostile to the Church.

    Which gets to the question: Why do you want to be a member of an organization you hate so much?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why are you so concerned with motive, Charles? Outside of the obvious dangers, Is the church concerned with the internal, personal motive of its visitors?

      You sound like a thought police to me.

      Delete
    2. David did nothing wrong, Charles.

      They have only published the truth on mormonthink, whether you like it or not.

      The only materials given to another member were from FAIR itself and another similar article.

      So David wasn't completely in-line with what the leaders would like, so what, he didn't do anything wrong.

      There are no grounds for excommunication.

      Delete
  2. Charles, besides the obvious dangers, why are you so concerned about someone's personal, internal motives for attending?

    you sound like the thought police...

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    Replies
    1. You may have me confused with someone else. I am not concerned about motives for attending. I never asked anything about motives for attending.

      Delete
    2. Shoes :) ---> "As a visitor you are a guest and expected to act as a guest. You are not allowed to openly carry weapons, make threats, disrupt meetings, dress in a manner that is intentionally provocative or inappropriate ("No shirt, no shoes no service") teach or advocate apostasy (including plural marriage) either inside the Church or out, and other things like that."

      Delete
  3. No matter WHAT, investigators/visitors, we prefer if you come dressed as us, and look like us, or we get VERY uncomfortable! Men, please cut your hair very short, and ladies g*d forbid you wear pants! Didn't you know your Heavenly Father can't hear you when you don't wear a dress? We all look and act alike in this "church". Please follow along, so we don't twitch!

    And as Charles stated, *please wear shoes*! Jesus never served anyone who was shoeless!

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    Replies
    1. You have misquoted me. I never said or implied any of what you said.

      Delete
    2. Shoes :) ...> "As a visitor you are a guest and expected to act as a guest. You are not allowed to openly carry weapons, make threats, disrupt meetings, dress in a manner that is intentionally provocative or inappropriate ("No shirt, no shoes no service") teach or advocate apostasy (including plural marriage) either inside the Church or out, and other things like that."

      Delete
  4. David,
    I am an ex-mormon myself. I found Mormonthink to be VERY informational. I left the Mormon church before learning MANY of the things brought up on Mormonthink. My loss of testimony was due to a very personal situation that showed me that the Mormon prophet receives no more revelation than anyone else. I began desperately trying to rebuild my testimony after that, and thought defending the church was the best way to do that. I felt I needed to know exactly what I was defending, so I began a more in depth research than I had ever done, so I could know what the "anti's" would say, and know how to refute them. Obviously, like many before me, this ended up showing me that they were right. When I began to reach out for help from church leaders to understand these problems, I was treated as an anti-mormon apostate, even though I was desperately trying to save my testimony. It sounds like you are going through a very similar situation. It is amazing how they say they wish to help their members, but as soon as they realize you have learned too much of the truth, they turn on you and force you to realize just how bad it is so they can label you an evil apostate, and marginalize you from there one out. I know that the road ahead for you will be tough, but there is greater light at the end of it than you ever found in the church.

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    1. Dear David,
      I am saddened to read the judgments and un-kindness of others towards you. I completely respect that you are atheist but please humor me with this quote about Christian desert fathers and mothers in the 4th and 5th century. " There was a brother at Scetis who had committed a fault. So they called a meeting and invited Abba Moses. He refused to go. The priest sent someone to say to him. "They're all waiting for you." So Moses got up and set off;he took a leaky jug and filled it with water and took it with him. The others came out to meet him and said:"What is this, Father?" The old man said to them," My sins run out behind me and I cannot see them, yet here I am coming to sit in judgment on the mistakes of somebody else." When they heard this, they called off the meeting. I would say to any LDS official that reads my quote: "You proclaim to be coming unto Christ?" If he was standing by you at this time what would he say about your actions? You see, if you have this great teachers name in your title, shouldn't your members, your leaders, your doctrines be examples of his teachings? When the women came in adultery Jesus did not hold a disciplinary council. Jesus Christ was the great liberator. What would he say about the LDS church today? Is it an example of Christian Love? I sincerely hope that the LDS can change, can step up, can become what it proports to be. David, all the very best in your journey. I respect your non belief as I'm sure you respect my belief. Surely the Golden rule is what it really is all about. And how you achieve it simply does not matter. With love and best wishes - a friend from afar

      Delete
    2. I believe in a different blogpost David stated that he is agnostic, not atheist.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous said, "My loss of testimony was due to a very personal situation that showed me that the Mormon prophet receives no more revelation than anyone else. I began desperately trying to rebuild my testimony after that,"

      This is the problem when a person's testimony is based on an organization or a man. Jesus is where our faith resides or we are unsafe. As soon as a leader shows weakness or blindness, our faith is shaken. And the greater the blindness (cannot discern the salamander letters were forged/could not read the countenance of the liar/forger for example) the more our testimonies are shaken.

      This is not the church of a man but of Jesus. Unfortunately, it seems that over the last nearly 180 years men have wrested more and more from the truth. We should be taught that Jesus is the ONLY one who cannot lead us astray. We should be taught our history in its fulness, warts and all. We should NOT be taught that the church, nor the members (past or present) were perfect, without sin, without anger, etc.

      We should study the Book of Mormon and realize that its warnings to the Gentiles are aimed at us, the members of the church. It is US who will lose this if we don't repent, not someone who has not read the book.

      Delete
  5. David,
    You ask some poignant questions:
    "So I ask, are visitors welcome? If we don't wear black-n-white or stripes, or quiet flowered dresses will we be in the council's gun-sights? If we dare bring up both viewpoints on an obviously controversial point of doctrine or history are we heretics just for using standard, well acceptable discussion protocol? Is it really more enlightening and polite to ignore facts that may alter the outcome of the discussion, just to spare the institution embarrassment?

    What kind of visitors is the LDS Church really looking for?"

    I am still baffled what are you being brought up to disciplinary actions for? Is it for providing a forum for open and candid discussion through Mormonthink.com or is it for wandering back into the church grounds from time to time and engaging in discussion. Why would the LDS leaders feel threatened by discussions which are only seeking to get at truth? After all, weren't we all taught that the "truth will set us free" and "the Glory of God is Intelligence"?

    I applaud your efforts David to assist in reminding the leadership and membership the church is a place for seeking truth no matter how difficult the discussion. It is a forum for dialogue with a back and forth not a monologue, which is top down... as in totalitarian regimes.

    May our efforts be successful and if Mormonthink.think can serve as that lightning rod for participants to come to the table so be it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good luck to ya brother. I was good friends with Avraham Gileadi when he was caught in the cross hairs of one ignoramiatic stake president who made it his mission to excommunicate the scholar. Avraham's own bishop refused to take action against him, therefore, he was released from his "calling" and another man who would do the dirty work of the stake president was "called" to be bishop. Years later, the stake president was finally released from his position, and the church repatriated Dr. Gileadi and restored him to good standing.

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  7. Yes, visitors are welcome.*

    *Certain restrictions apply.

    http://swearingelders.blogspot.com/2009/09/visitors-welcome.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Again, Charles, why this seeming obsession to see one of your members excommnunicated? Your missionaries can easily replace him with a hundred baptisms, so why?

    You say he despises your church, so why not just hand him an excommunication letter, and post his name on your bulletin boards to warn others not to follow him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh.. Fair question.

      I think its bad for both the Church and for the individual for the membership to continue. I consider a release from membership to be a blessing and merciful to both sides. It is also reasonable and just.

      Delete
  9. Unfortunately, some of us only want visitors whom we might possibly fleece, not the visitors who might give us a run for our money.

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  10. Charles, I'm so happy that not all members share your viewpoint! People like you make me ashamed to be a member of this great church. We should be sending love to David and all visitors! You are so judgemental it is embarrassing. People have the free will to wear what they want when they want. It is not to you to judge them, if they want to respect the church to wear respectable clothing while in our buildings they will do so in their own time. Nobody will make me feel uncomfortable while I'm in church it only seems to be the judgemental members that get effected. They should lead by example.
    Good luck David I don't agree with what they are doing to you.

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    Replies
    1. Pete,

      You should be ashamed. You are not a reasonable person. The standards I have outlined are extremely reasonable.

      You claim I am judgmental, but I have not judged anyone. However, aren't you doing some negative evaluation when you claim that I am judgmental? Could you have a bit of hypocrite in you?

      Delete
    2. From Charles:

      >I have not judged anyone (sound of Etch-a-Sketch shaking)

      >You are not a reasonable person.

      >Could you have a bit of hypocrite in you?

      Apologies, Charles, if you're really a fellow heretic and you're actually writing satire.

      Delete
    3. Congratulations Charles on proving your not being judgemental by judging me an unreasonable person and maybe a hypocrite.
      Whatever Davids reasons are for contributing to Mormon think are between him and heavenly father. He does not have to answer to you!
      You may wish think about how your comments may look to investigators as to me it seems to be doing more damage than what David is doing. Just my opinion but then I'm not reasonable and have a bit of hypocrite in me.

      Delete
  11. David, the actions of your church leaders make no sense. Why would they do this at a time when the whole world is paying attention? Why are they so scared of someone who posts facts on a website - facts that can be found on FAIR's website as well? What ever happened to seeking for truth wherever it may lead? What has happened to my beloved church?

    It looks to me like the church is now run by a bunch of paranoid people who are trying desperately to protect the tender testimonies of their members from any information that might not be 100% positive. But they are fighting a losing battle, and the more they fight it the more desperate and pitiful they appear! And the defections will increase and grow like a stone cut from the mountain until they fill the whole earth.

    The Church may win this battle but other websites like yours will spring up quickly. The church will never win the war to prevent disclosure of less-flattering historical facts. They cant excommunicate the whole internet.

    I plan to be here at Temple Square at 5:00 on Saturday night protesting this action!! Publishing TRUTHFUL albeit unflattering information about the Church is not apostasy, its just being honest. Keep searching for truth, 'tis the fairest gem.

    1. Oh say, what is truth? ’Tis the fairest gem
    That the riches of worlds can produce,
    And priceless the value of truth will be when
    The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
    Is counted but dross and refuse.

    2. Yes, say, what is truth? ’Tis the brightest prize
    To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
    Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
    Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
    ’Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

    3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
    When with winds of stern justice he copes.
    But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
    And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
    And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

    4. Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,
    For the limits of time it steps o’er.
    Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
    Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
    Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

    ReplyDelete
  12. (Charles): "I think its bad for both the Church and for the individual for the membership to continue. I consider a release from membership to be a blessing and merciful to both sides. It is also reasonable and just."

    Well, he doesn't want to go to your court of love... shouldn't it be obvious that he doesn't want to continue anymore? Just send him a letter and say goodbye, then be done with it. That should save yourselves the hassle of a convening a church court.

    But you stalking David here like a little troll, and challenging him to a kangaroo court, just shows how stupid you priesthood bearers are.

    Had you trolls just ignored him, this would have been a dead issue. If you have acoomplished anything, it is nothing but to confirm to everyone here what a bunch of idiotic control freaks you are in church.

    (Charles): "You claim I am judgmental, but I have not judged anyone. "

    Yes you did, you said David despised your church, and you think he's anti-Mormon. That's a judgment there. That's why he doesn't really need to attend your kangaroo court.



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  13. The picture you used has been killed.

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