Thirteen Theses
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Thirteen Theses

Thesis 7: Mormon Culture

If I believed that a church was true, I would stay a part of it even if the culture of the church wasn’t awesome. Because if a church is right then it’s right, regardless of the imperfect people inside of it. So you can read my other essays for the doctrinal and logical reasons why I left the Mormon church.

I’m not leaving the Mormon church because of the culture inside of it. But I also won’t miss it.

Here are a few of the issues that are permeating the Mormon church.

1. Categorization

You are a member or a non-member. You are a convert or a member “born in the covenant.” You are a good member or a hypocritical jack Mormon. You are a Utah Mormon or in the mission field. You are strong in your testimony or you are “struggling.” You are a man with the Priesthood or a woman in the Relief Society. In the church, people are incessantly grouped and then treated accordingly.

2. Judgement

The Mormon church has a lot of commandments. Some of them are pretty hard and fast commandments, like coming to church, not smoking, or not having sex before marriage. But then there’s a lot of encouraged and implied commandments about whether or not to drink caffeine or to have sleeves on your prom dress or to wear a white shirt to church or to have two ear piercings or to not watch TV on Sundays or to not play sports games on Sundays and on and on and on. Years of prophets and Ensign articles and youth pamphlets have muddled what’s “ok” and “not ok”, and every single person in the church seems to have a different interpretation of it. So when someone doesn’t measure up to your interpretation, let the judgement, and the categorization begin. It’s exhausting not only to feel like you’re constantly being judged, but also to subconsciously always be judging other members.

3. Snootiness

In another essay I talk about how the Mormon church is obsessed with the notion of being the “only true church on the face of the earth.” Because of that, many Mormons subconsciously view themselves as better than “non-members.” They won’t go out and say it, but they’ll imply how unhappy their non-member friends at school seem, or how only people outside the church ever deal with domestic issues like divorce, or how people outside the church have no true purpose or direction in life. I think Mormons have to imply these things in order to build up the notion that they’re the only ones that have it right. This attitude also leads to a lot of facades of happy families, happy marriages, and happy people. Mormons tend to hide their problems pretty well, and often these problems will build up and explode behind the scenes. For reference, Utah has a huge issue with depression and drug overdosing.

4. Life-Consumption

I have always highly valued my time. And in its history the LDS church has somehow managed to take more and more and more of it away from members. Church is a daunting 3 hours on Sunday. Men “home teach” several families each month, taking another few hours out of the month with the schedule coordination and visits. Members are expected to read scriptures individually and with their families every day. High school students are expected to wake up in the wee hours of the morning for an hour of seminary before school starts. Most members have a calling that can require hours each week of lesson preparation, meetings, spreadsheets, clerical work, or counseling. Family home evenings are expected every Monday night. Youth nights are one evening every week. Pretty soon your entire life is consumed with going from church activity to church activity. Because of this, members live in a strange “bubble” that is completely out of touch with normal life. They don’t have time to pursue hobbies and passions or real relationships with non-Mormon people.

5. Embrace of Ignorance

Perhaps worst of all, anyone who even hints at not believing in the church is quickly labeled as “struggling with their testimony.” If someone does any research online about the history of the church, they’re labeled as “looking at anti-Mormon literature.” If someone brings up a question that goes a bit deeper than the Sunday School manual recommends, they’re labeled as “a bit apostate.” The tiniest bit of research yields hundreds of uncomfortable issues with the history of the Mormon church: Joseph Smith and his many wives, Brigham Young’s forced succession and burning of the temple, the ever-changing details of the first vision from Joseph Smith, the “scribblings” of Joseph Smith’s reformed Egyptian and falsified scrolls claimed to be the Book of Abraham, and more. And yet, few Mormons will even entertain thinking about the possibility of being wrong about things. I’ve often heard members of the church say that someone who left was “too intellectual” for their own good. Well, if all the intellectuals are leaving, shouldn’t that tell you something?

“By their fruits ye shall know them”, says the Bible.

Most members of the Mormon church are great people, and many don’t fit the categories listed above. But as a whole, there is something just a little bit rotten with the core of the culture of the church.



Thirteen short essays explaining why I left the Mormon church, Christianity, and religion.

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