I've been asked before why I bother with the church anymore if I don't believe it. Why can't I just leave it alone? You know, I've asked myself the same thing.
Every first weekend in April and October marks General Conference for the faithful, and the not so faithful who have to read the explosion of pre-made memes from the different talks. So this past weekend, I got my phone out and scrolled through #ldsconf updates and trending. Didn't really feel like boring myself to tears watching the actual thing, but I was curious to see what was talked about, or if they addressed at all their most recent insanities (ostracizing gays, forbidding medical marijuana, and condoning religious hate, excuse me I mean religion freedom bills).
Of course, in nonspecific, round about ways they pacified the members into submission once again. Patted the women on the head, told men all children deserved the influence of a father, lamented with parents of apostate children, said if it didn't come from a prophet it didn't come from god (shame on you Google!), and that choosing the church was harder than leaving.
I loved the bit about everyone having a Sal in their life with Paul potential. That one really made me laugh, because I immediately thought of my husband and myself kicking against the pricks so readily. And then my personal favorite, and terribly photoshopped depiction of two children running from a T-Rex to symbolize us running from tomorrow. I'm sorry, but when you are a professional photographer and editing is your business, you can't help but shake your head when a multibillion dollar organization can't afford a decent designer to prepare their graphics. It was terrible.
There were quotes about indoctrinating children, disguised with pretty pictures and flowing words. Talks about staying temple worthy to keep members paying their tithing and reimbursing themselves in the deluded doctrine on a monthly basis. Talks about how fathers are irreplaceable, which is funny because it's usually mothers they go on about, but it invalidates homosexual parents all the same. Threats of the world to come, but assurance that all you need to do is try and you'll be fine. Be obedience, be submissive, be heterosexual. Ugh its so terrible.
The whole time I was checking up on people's ridiculous trending posts, covered in gobs of sticky gushing I love our prophet, I couldn't help but giggle to myself about one particular fact: they were speaking in the Great and Spacious Building.
For those of you unfamiliar, there is a story in 1st Nephi of the Book of Mormon popularly known as Lehi's dream. (1 Nephi 8) Nephi's dad has a dream, and so Nephi wants to see it to. He describes a rod of iron with people walking along it towards a tree lit up with magical fruit. To the side are traps like a river, mists and a huge building with all sorts of mocking folk. This building is large, with tons of people, all dressed nicely and making fun of anyone not in the building.
Hmm........ sorry, but the irony is just pathetic. The conference center is enormous! It cost millions of dollars to construct. It was full to the brim with people dressed in their Sunday best, all listening to the leaders "mock" those who had left or those who were on the outside. I mean seriously, the love to talk about "apostates". Warn about the dangers of associating with us, and how sad we actually are, and how they mourn with the parents who's children have gone astray. While they take money from the poor to build mega malls and shame anyone who isn't living perfectly.
Another bizarre thing? They play the victim card over and over again. Calling for love and tolerance while not accepting other opinions or viewpoints. If you say something "disrespectful or mocking" of their belief, they call for respect. But if you try to tell them something religious they have said offends you, it isn't valid because they have the truth and they know you are wrong. So the offense taken at their belief isn't valid. Its an insane double standard. I've been approached by several friends, w ho have since blocked me, being asked to stop posting "anti-mormon" things, or to stop making fun of their beliefs. I'm not terrible, I am passionate, but not usually rude. I typically only post things that I think will make people reconsider their beliefs, but not blatantly make fun of it. Still, at the same time, when I see members post memes that invalidate real lifestyles, or devalue other religions, or say Christ is the only thing that matters, I do take offense. Its offensive. But they don't understand why, because they "know" it is true. It ends up being a big problem, because there isn't really a nice way to explain it without further offending them. Mormons are so deeply indoctrinated its like talking to a three year old who has no concept that Santa Claus couldn't possibly be real. They have no frame of reference, they simply cannot imagine a life where he doesn't exist.
Mormons are the same way. They cannot imagine a world where god doesn't exist, and they are taught that it is supremely true above all other ways of thinking. They will defend their religion to a fault, even if it means trampling over everyone else, including loved ones. Because nothing is more important in their minds that good temple attendance and prayer. Nothing brings more happiness that attending their meetings and spreading their propaganda door to door.
I wish that there would have been enough opposing voices this conference that someone would have stopped the talks to answer questions. The members deserve to know what kind of a church they belong to, and it's about time the leadership was put on the spot to answer the difficult questions. Without premeditated pacifying replies. To actually answer the questions everyone has been asking, and not say, you might hear what you need in my talk that I made without you in mind. Without the copout of, be faithful and god will answer you. No, its time they actually answered the questions of "Why was Joseph Smith married to children? Why was Emma threatened with damnation for not accepting it? Why were there multiple versions of the first vision? Why are women eternally second class citizens? Why did the Joseph translate out of a hat, when we had always been taught he translated from the plates? Why did Nephi slay Laban? Why did god murder countless innocent babies? How the hell can free agency possibly exist when god is omniscient?"
There needs to be a real dialogue. Someone needs to start it. I'm sick of all the platitudes and excuses and deceit. I hate that people I love are being played for fools by a bunch of chauvinistic white homophobes! Who cry at the drop of a hat to show you their sincerity. But secretly stash away billions in a secret vault and invest in stocks like Burger King and send unknowing youth to their deaths all in the name of an invisible god who may or may not reveal himself.
Ugh, I'm just so repulsed I can't stand it.