Bill Lobdell, former LA Times religion reporter experiences his own religious epiphany

Once upon a time, I apparently had a “testimony.”

A testimony as to the “truthfulness” of the LDS Gospel. Just ask my mother. She loves to talk about how I clamored to bear my testimony every Fast and Testimony meeting, and bemoans it as a much more idyllic period then, say, NOW, where the only testimony I bear is the testimony that dentists are evil and algebra is practiced regularly by Satan-worshippers. (I’m having a hard time recruiting people to share this testimony. Well, not the dentist one but the ALGEBRA one. Folks. Letters and numbers do NOT go together. Only anarchy and chaos can result.)

I don’t really remember having a testimony. I think I just liked to stand up and talk to a captive audience. But somewhere around 14 years old, which is when most teenagers suddenly KNOW EVERYTHING and discover their parents are the dumbest humans alive, I found I had a few questions. Actually, I discovered I had more than a FEW questions. I started doing some research, something that is GREATLY discouraged among Mormon youth. I know why. Because my research resulted in even more questions and some pretty solid reality. After I grew out of my “know everything” phase, and into the phase where I realized just how little I actually knew, I ALSO realized something else.

I was okay with it. I really didn’t NEED to have all the answers. But other people? They were NOT okay with me not having all the answers. They wanted to tell me the answers, and have me listen to them, and accept their answers as undeniable truth. Truth proved only through belief, something that can NEVER be proved. What an interesting conundrum faith is.

Even now it fascinates me, and I continue to write about it in books and on this blog. And I continue to get harassed for my stance, as well. Goes with the territory, I guess.

Along the way, the journey that brought me here to my current place, I met a lot of other ex-Mormons who had rejected their “testimonies,” many of them having been handed them, as I was, as young children. “Here you go. Now don’t lose this. It’s the only true thing you will ever know. But don’t open it. Or look too closely. Just put it in your pocket, close your eyes, and pray and you WILL know.”

Some of us couldn’t resist looking in the pocket.

Choosing this course has never been an easy one. I know a great many cultural Mormons who have no strong belief, but live it and accept it because it is their culture. It’s what they know, what they were born with, what gives them comfort at night.

And I know a great many ex-Mormons, some still deeply closeted in the veil of secrecy we call disbelief. Sometimes, those ex-Mormons get together, and during one such conference, we were visited by William Lobdell, who at the time covered religion for the Los Angeles Times. The Exmormon Conference he attended was one of many small pieces that led to his eventual journey out of religion and into peace. Hence, his new memoir, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace.

Bill describes his visit to the Exmormon Conference this way:

IN late 2001, I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend a conference of former Mormons. These people lived mostly in the Mormon Jell-O belt — Utah, Idaho, Arizona — so-named because of the plates of Jell-O that inevitably appear at Mormon gatherings.

They found themselves ostracized in their neighborhoods, schools and careers. Often, they were dead to their own families.

“If Mormons associate with you, they think they will somehow become contaminated and lose their faith too,” Suzy Colver told me. “It’s almost as if people who leave the church don’t exist.”

The people at the conference were an eclectic bunch: novelists and stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and cartoonists, sex addicts and alcoholics. Some were depressed, others angry, and a few had successfully moved on. But they shared a common thread: They wanted to be honest about their lack of faith and still be loved.

In most pockets of Mormon culture, that wasn’t going to happen.

Part of what drew me to Christianity were the radical teachings of Jesus — to love your enemy, to protect the vulnerable and to lovingly bring lost sheep back into the fold.

As I reported the story, I wondered how faithful Mormons — many of whom rigorously follow other biblical commands such as giving 10% of their income to the church — could miss so badly on one of Jesus’ primary lessons?

I recently heard from Bill, and am excited to pick up and read his book, about his own journey, which might be akin somewhat to mine. Who knows? But certainly, it will be worth the time spent to read the book.

I looked many other places, in all the corners, trying to find the “absolute truth” that I was always told was there, from the day I was old enough to comprehend. I never did find it. Because life is not absolute, and our universe and world are not absolute, and ABSOLUTES are and should be the death knell for anyone or anything. Including religion.

To find another rule, one only has to look in a different religion.

If you asked me, today, if I were an atheist, I would not answer yes. Do I know that God exists? No. Do I know he doesn’t exist? No.

Am I okay with this? Yup.

I’m not going to go off on a philosophical tangent here, because that would be boring and there are lots of other people who serve that purpose in this world. It’s not my cause, and never has it been, to tell you WHAT you should believe, and why. And it never will be.

But the journey? Well, I guess that’s my job. To chronicle the journey. To show both sides of the story. Good and bad. It’s why I write.

And it’s why Bill writes, and this really sums it up for me.

As I walked into the long twilight of a Portland summer evening, I felt used up and numb.

My soul, for lack of a better term, had lost faith long ago — probably around the time I stopped going to church. My brain, which had been in denial, had finally caught up.

Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don’t. It’s not a choice. It can’t be willed into existence. And there’s no faking it if you’re honest about the state of your soul.

Sitting in a park across the street from the courthouse, I called my wife on a cellphone. I told her I was putting in for a new beat at the paper.

Keep writing, Bill.

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About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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60 Responses to Bill Lobdell, former LA Times religion reporter experiences his own religious epiphany

  1. Cele says:

    Excellent post, very though provoking. I find it interesting that religions, what is suppose to serve spirituality and God, so soundly destroys the faith is purports to serve and support.

    Like

  2. Rick says:

    Ha! Love it! I especially like:

    “I don’t really remember having a testimony. I think I just liked to stand up and talk to a captive audience.”

    I think this is much deeper than most admit. I see Mormonism (and probably other religions too…) as a social culture — a place where people speak and are heard. The words don’t really matter much. The smiles do. And as long as you at least say a few things right, you are accepted by the others.

    And that’s important.

    ~Rick

    Like

  3. Kirk says:

    “If Mormons associate with you, they think they will somehow become contaminated and lose their faith too.”

    As a Mormon growing up in Utah, my wife was strictly forbidden to date anyone “outside” of the LDS faith. Funny how she now reflects back on her dating life. Status in the LDS church (returned missionary status – for example) certainly was no indicator of proper moral standards on dates.

    Funny how things work out. As parents, we try very hard not to judge young men who are dating our daughters, but are finding it difficult not to discriminate against LDS kids. I know – believe me I know that this is probably just as unwarranted as my in-law’s discrimination years earlier. I just can’t help myself. I simple don’t trust them.

    Kirk

    Like

  4. Elaine says:

    Thanks, Natalie, for the news that Mr. Lobdell has written a book about his journey. I’d read a little bit about his experiences and am anxious to read his book.

    It’s a funny thing about faith. As constructed by Mormons, as well as by a lot of other Christians and religious folks of other traditions, “faith” ends up being sort of the ultimate con game. You are not encouraged to find what you believe in, but you are told that having faith is essentially a matter of believing what someone else tells you because they told you that it’s true. Like the testimony thing. I can recall many times being told that I should lean on someone else’s testimony (take what they say they believe at face value) until I had my own. Looking for evidence is considered blasphemous or sacreligious or, worse, evil. Because God will not like you if you don’t take the word of others that the particular religious truth in question is, in fact, true.

    And, isn’t that what con men (and women) do? Ask you to buy something (literally and figuratively) just because they recommend it, in effect telling you that it is “true”. If you ask for independent confirmation of the veracity of their claims, their reaction is hurt that you don’t trust them…have “faith” in them, just because they tell you that you should.

    Same thing, as far as I can tell.

    Elaine

    Like

  5. TB says:

    Hi Nat,

    Well, it seems to me that all reasonable folks would fall into this category.

    ag·nos·tic
    \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\

    1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable ; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

    TB

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  6. Natalie says:

    I like it, Almost Birthday Boy!

    Like

  7. TB says:

    Oh, you remembered. Thanks, Brat. Made my day.

    Like

  8. Pingback: Topics about Religion » Trapped by the Mormons » Blog Archive » Bill Lobdell, former LA …

  9. Dragonhlm says:

    Agnostic is not a faith. it is a reference to knowledge. (Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge; after Gnosticism) You can be an agnostic theist (belief in a God) it just means you don’t have any knowledge to support your belief. Lots of people when asked if they believe in God will answer that they are agnostic, but this is a separate question. To believe in something you need to define it first. If I said that there were little men who wore green sport coats and hid pots of gold at the ends of rainbows you could answer if you believed me or not. So give me your definition of God. If your answer is “I don’t know what God is” Then you do not believe in a God and you are an atheist (Greek : a, without + theist, belief)

    Like

  10. T.B. says:

    To claim that I don’t know what god is does not make me an atheist. To claim that I know what god is would make me rather arrogant.

    ar·ro·gant (-gənt)

    adjective
    full of or due to unwarranted pride and self-importance; overbearing; haughty

    Like

  11. Kirk says:

    Great comment TB. The assumption that one must define God, or be labeled an atheist is ridiculous.

    Like

  12. dragonhlm says:

    Definition of God is a must otherwise how do you differentiate between the many Gods man has invented. Or do you just spin a wheel and see which one you will worship?

    Like

  13. dragonhlm says:

    Definition of God is a must otherwise how do you differentiate between the many Gods man has invented. Or do you just spin a wheel and see which one you will worship? Christians have a pretty good definition of who they worship, as well as the Muslims and Scientologists. I think most mainstream religions could give you a definition if asked. If you don’t know what God is why worship?

    Like

  14. T.B. says:

    “If you don’t know what God is why worship? ”

    I don’t and thanks for making a good point. I wish more would be honest with themselves, follow that advice and maybe, just maybe, we’d have a peaceful world.

    Like

  15. azteclady says:

    If you have to “differentiate between the many gods man has invented” then perhaps none of those is actually divine, yes?

    And perhaps acknowledging that we humans cannot accurately understand or even perceive true divinity–therefore being inherently unable to define it–would be a better starting point to faith than the oh so narrow “I know what god is and isn’t and everyone who doesn’t agree with me is wrong”

    Like

  16. Kirk says:

    I, for one, have little desire to worship a God who is believed to favor obsure predictions found in the late first century book of Revelation, who suppresses women in the name of ancient patriarchy, or who is so deeply homophobic that oppressing homosexuals becomes the defining issue of a generation.
    “Such an irrational, superstitious deity has no appeal to me and the attack of atheists against this kind of God is welcome. I also do not want to be told that the “true God” can be found either in the inerrancy of the Bible or in the infallibility of a Pope. Both are absurd religious claims designed not to discover truth but to enforce religious authority and conformity.” (Spong)
    I believe, therefore, that atheism as a challenge to organized religion has a worthy vocation to fulfill. The real atheists are saying that the God they have encountered inside the life of the church is too small and too compromised to be God for their lives. If the church is dedicated to such an unbelievable, magical and miracle-working deity that it cannot admit to any genuine probing of the divine, then the atheist speaks a powerful truth.
    Atheism, technically, does not mean a denial of the existence of God. It means literally a denial of the theistic definition of God. That is to say, theism is not what God is; it is what human beings have decided that God is. Human definitions of God can die without God dying. Theism means that we perceive of God as “a being, supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to this world (usually conceived of as above the sky), who periodically invades this world in miraculous ways.”
    This is the God who split the Red Sea to rescue the chosen people and who invaded the world in the person of Jesus to rescue the fallen creation. This is also the deity displaced by Galileo, made impotent by Isaac Newton, ridiculed by Freud and relativized by Einstein.
    The theological question that needs to be explored in both church and state is this: Can God be understood in some way other than through these infantile and tribal images? Can Jesus be seen in some way other than as the divinely appointed sacrificial victim who paid the price owed to God for our sinfulness? Because I believe that both God and Jesus are so much more than these distorting images suggest, I am confident that a dialogue with those who call themselves “atheists” would not only be good for the church but it would also allow deep and profound truth to emerge.
    Among the issues for discussion between atheists and believers would be: What leads human beings to seek to define God in the first place? Is it the human experience of transcendence? Otherness? Divinity? How then do we conceptualize that experience? If the worship of our God leads us to justify our killing religious prejudices that have throughout history created such things as the Inquisition, the Crusades, religious wars and even the current ecclesiastical attack on homosexual persons, can this God really be anything other than a creature of our own making? Will we remain deluded enough to call this creature God? Since that is what the theistic God has so regularly given us, would not the world be better off without such a deity?
    The choice between the theism of the church and the atheism of those who reject the God of the church is to me a sterile and lifeless choice. Such a meeting between believers and atheists might lead us to examine what Paul Tillich called “the God beyond the gods of men and women.” If believers cannot have that conversation because it compromises their God definition, then that is a tip-off that the God they serve is in fact an idol and atheism is always a proper response to idolatry.

    Great article and writing. I felt it deserved a post here.

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  17. carla says:

    What happened to the “Mormon Defender”, Todd?? Here at the office, we have taken the time to review the history files of this great site. To use HIS words, Todd amuzes us. He has some really great, intelligent minds responding to his remarks, and his dribble is always the same. All he ever comes up with is that his is “God’s” church. His feelings led him to his beliefs. His ignorant, arrogant views somehow help others – gawwwwd. Would someone please shut him the hell up? Please. We are begging out here in cyberland. Please go away Todd. You annoy the hell out of most.

    Like

  18. Rick says:

    Great post Kirk!

    As I’ve been following the news wrt religious folk and the gays, I am transitioning to a belief that staunch religious followers are in fact immoral in many ways, while those ignostic (like me, of course…) are the moral ones.

    For example, religions say that “pre-marital sex” is immoral. I say that it is appropriate to learn of romantic compatibility before committing to another for life, and bringing children into the world that are bound to be loved by parents that have lasting love for each other. I also see the larger families as immoral in that they have no way of giving the attention the children need to become healthy adults.

    So the latest intense action against the gays is clearly immoral IMO — it serves to divide and judge a class of people that are so loving and responsible in society. When we have 30,000 children in our foster care system that cannot be adopted by responsible gay and lesbian couples, instead being shuffled between various families, there is clearly something immoral about that!

    ~Rick

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  19. Todd says:

    Hey Carla! Glad to see you’re watching out for me.

    Amusing is your characterization of those who respond as “great” and “intelligent” minds. The rationale of those who call good evil and evil good may appear intelligent, but as all good Christians know, their logic will not stand the test of time.

    With all due respect, you would be served by a calibration of your measure of “greatness” and “intelligence.”

    Kindest Regards,
    Todd

    Like

  20. Kirk says:

    Guess what hasn’t stood the test of time: religious bigotry, racism, polygamy, Mormon doctrine, the Book of Mormon as a historical document, LDS prophetic predictions. I could continue on for a very long time focusing primarily on Mormon theology. I could spend another very long time on all other religions.

    Todd’s views are his own, and as Rick has stated many times – “that’s OK. As long as his views don’t trickle into our lives.”

    Unfortunately they do.

    Like

  21. Todd says:

    Kirk,

    Apparently religious bigotry is alive and well as your post proves. It’s ironic that in one breath you declare it dead, while propogating it in the next.

    I’m no proponent of polygamy, but doesn’t it thrive in some cultures? As indicated earlier, the church was forced to discontinue plural marriage. It didn’t die on it’s own as a failure of the “test of time.” In fact, the feds had a very difficult time squashing it. Where’s the basis for your conclusion?

    The Book of Mormon and Mormon doctrine in general has not only stood the test of time, they are thriving; helping the pure in heart draw closer to God the world over.

    How sad it would be if the only perspective that trickled into our lives was one based on the philosophies of men like you.

    That would be unfortunate.

    Like

  22. Kirk says:

    Well Todd,

    Apparently “Standing the test of time” – for you means simply existing. Yes, polygamy exists in certain impoverished, undereducated, third world civilizations. The practice even “exists” among people and cultures who believe that God ordained it. And don’t give me the Mormon party-line statement, “I don’t condone Polygamy” malarkey. Your religion embraces it, continues to practice it in Temple sealings, and believes that it plays a crucial role in the proliferation of spirits throughout eternity. Many, many Mormon men say the right words in order to pacify their wives – all the while dreaming of the day when their priesthood blessings will allow them to have sex with many women. I am going to come right out and say that this makes me sick. I have personally witnessed it on so many levels of Mormonism, it turns my stomach.

    You belong to a religion that played a very large role in establishing the practice of Polygamy on this continent.

    And yes, I am very much prejudiced against religious people who teach their young children (and others) awful practices that encourage racism and self-righteousness. People like you blindly promote Dark Age mentality, and pass it off as God’s will.

    “Good” as evil, “Evil” as good. Look very closely in the mirror Todd.

    We’ll talk about your Book of Mormon standing the test of time later.

    Like

  23. azteclady says:

    Sainttodd sayeth,

    The rationale of those who call good evil and evil good may appear intelligent, but as all good Christians know, their logic will not stand the test of time.

    And words just fail me.

    Well, not really.

    But reading further, if things that stand the test of time are true, then homosexuality and homosexual behaviour are God’s will. As is premarital sex. And free thinking. Hell, free speech too!

    Cool to know, huh? And it’s all approved by Sainttodd’s logic–woohooo!

    /sarcasm (to let people with limited understanding, such as todd, judge the comment in context)

    Like

  24. Kirk says:

    As I write this, I’m sitting in the SCL Aero Puerto de Santiago, waiting for a flight to Atlanta, and then on to SLC, Ut. Two flights have cancelled, providing me with the opportunity of sitting near a group of LDS missionaries who have apparently just finished their stint in Chile and are returning home. Of course, they are actively teaching anyone and everyone who will listen. The introduction wording that they use when initially approaching Chilean people has been fascinating. One sister missionary approached an older lady sitting next to me with the opening line, “Would you like to live forever with your family?” The next statement offended even worse. The sister missionary then asked, “If you love your children, wouldn’t you do anything that would enable you to live with them in the presence of God forever?”

    I have been listening to the lessons for about two hours now, and am really feeling a bit nauseous. Guilt, fear – more guilt directed towards the family, and more fear involving Satan’s influence over our lives. An Elder Missionary actually started talking about the Lamanite ancestors of the Chilean people. I learned that a poor Chilean family were direct descendants of Christ’s chosen people. And I learned that these same Chilean people had royalty in their blood. And – (this one nearly caused me to interrupt) that the beautiful, dark Chilean skin was a result of God’s desire to set these beautiful people apart so that they would be identifiable to the Lord’s missionaries in the “Latter Days.”

    Almost sounds like Todd desperately trying to spin something positive out of a curse. Excuse me – “mark of a curse” as Todd would say.

    I’m just waiting for a class action law suit someday when all the peoples of the Islands, Latin and South America and others of color unite against the LDS church for fraud – demanding back compensation for time and money spent as members, converted through lineage and ancestor lies. How many times have LDS prophets stated that the dark skinned people of other places and nations are direct descendants of the noble Lamanites.

    Just sharing a fun filled afternoon.

    Like

  25. Todd says:

    Actually Kirk, according to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of the 1231 societies noted, only 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry. (reference)

    And talk of making your stomach turn, our great monogamous society prefers mistresses and adultery; over honorable, and possibly even polygamous, marriage.

    Where’s the guilt and fear in the question: “Would you like to live forever with your family?”

    Sounds more like Kirk is the one peddling the guilt and fear. I’m pretty sure the church feels no guilt and isn’t fearing a law suit from “all the peoples of the Islands, Latin and South America and others of color.” Quite the opposite, I’m sure, will happen as the church continues to build and strengthen families and faith in those areas of the world.

    Living by faith, not fear,
    Todd

    Like

  26. Kirk says:

    Todd really is a closet polygamist. You are easily smoked out Todd. First you mention that you don’t condone Polygamy, and in subsequent posts, are referring to it in a very favorable light. I’ll quote your words for you – just to help you along here.

    Todd: “And talk of making your stomach turn, our great monogamous society prefers mistresses and adultery; over honorable, and possibly even polygamous, marriage.”

    Your, Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, gives absolutely no references to time frame, demographic or anthropological studies or percentages practicing polygyny, polygamy or polyandry. One thing is certain, as societies evolve, become more civilized and educated, and as women are viewed as equals, polygamous relationships diminish.

    The social ills of polygamous societies are far too numbered to even argue here. Todd’s logic seems to be, “if it exists” it is right. What?? “Our monogamous society preferring mistresses and adultery.”?? What?? Twisted logic Todd.

    Azteclady is as confused by SaintTood as I am. Todd, you seem to spend much time and energy defending a practice that I am certain your wife and daughters would abhor.

    And the law suits concerning false teachings to gain converts – just around the corner my friend. Mormons need to stop the untruths. Mormons, however need people like Todd so that as they read his ramblings, they can also become embarrassed and begin thinking with their own brains.

    Like

  27. Todd says:

    Kirk’s logic seems to be if it’s related to mormonism it must be wrong. At least he admits he’s a bigot.

    He prefers a society in which illicit sex, adultery, and rampant homosexuality (all current societal ills) are acceptable over one that condones honorable, responsible (and even polygamous) marriage.

    Kirk’s own twisted logic seems to be if it’s wrong, it must not exist; hence his apparent confusion regarding mistresses and adultery. But I guess in Kirk’s world those practices are acceptable, a thought that I’m sure his wife and daughters find abhorring.

    So, Kirk, how many mistresses do you have? I hear that Mr. Hefner is looking for a new “girlfriend” to parade around. Maybe you should introduce him to your daughter.

    Azteclady is just confused…period.

    Please excuse the ramblings,
    Todd

    Like

  28. K*tty says:

    Todd, shame on you for bringing Kirk’s daughter into this. That’s low. I expect better from you. But since you brought it up, I would rather date Hefner than be in a polygamist marriage where the work never stops and the fun never begins, not to mention the ugly haute couture. Oh, and outer is looking pretty darn fun compared to creating for eternity. Whose idea of Heaven is this? Oh, don’t bother answering. It is that ego maniac, sex driven Smith.

    Ramblins of someone who has really seen the light, K*tty

    Like

  29. azteclady says:

    Oh yes, I’m confused.

    After all, I’m not a mormon and I disagree with sainttodd–I must, obviously, be confused!

    No way I can be a thinking, independent, ethical person who can look at sainttodd’s arguments, contradictions and stated beliefs, and laugh, and not be confused.

    C’mon, people, wake up! You either toe sainttodd’s line or you are either deluded or amoral.

    Like

  30. Todd says:

    K*tty,

    Glad to see you’re still paying attention!

    Ugly haute couture…?

    The problem with outer is, well, it’s so dark! Besides, the creating IS the fun!

    Yours truly,
    Todd

    Like

  31. Kirk says:

    Todd, you’ve crossed etiquette lines and if you don’t realize it, your comments aren’t’ worth a response. We aren’t’ going to get very far in these discussions if Todd and Joshua Skains continue to act like wounded children. My comments inferring that women in Todd’s life would abhor the concept of polygamy hardly merit suggesting that I introduce my lovely young daughter to Mr. Hefner as his girlfriend. Credibility is lost, true temperament is exposed, and engaging discussions of my children in this light will not be tolerated.

    Todd’s logic in bringing up data from the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook is completely irrelevant. In typical fashion the inference somehow identifies a practice as valid just because it exists. Rape, incest and murder have been practiced by 100% of societies Todd. And guess what? Do you consider these practices moral?

    Hopefully, as man progresses, matures and begins to establish some level of self-actualization and awareness (as has been said before) he can shed practices that suppress women in the name of ancient patriarchy. These infantile and tribal practices can be replaced by love and understanding.

    Yes Todd, as this discussion progress, I believe that true, arrogant, ignorant Mormonism is exposed. As in everyday life, the nice freshly scrubbed faces of Mormon missionaries become people like Todd. Sad.

    Like

  32. Todd says:

    In typical Kirk fashion, he attempts to claim the high road whilst trying to smear those whose views don’t contort quite as severely as his own. His lecture on etiquette would be better received if recited while looking in the mirror.

    Kirk readily condones illicit sex, adultery and homosexuality; while condemning honorable, responsible (and possibly polygamous) marriage. The Ethnographic Atlas Codebook data is relevant because it shows that polygamy as a valid system has stood the test of time (Kirk’s original argument). Kirk would like to dismiss this data, because it doesn’t fit his twisted views; so he’s changed his argument to one of a moral nature to try and equate polygamy with rape, incest, and murder. That comparison is less worthy of response.

    As this discussion progresses, Kirk is exposed as the bigot that he is; despite his own freshly scrubbed face.

    Please excuse the rambling,
    Todd

    Like

  33. Kirk says:

    Todd quote, “Kirk readily condones illicit sex, adultery and homosexuality; while condemning honorable, responsible (and possibly polygamous) marriage.”

    Mormon view (Todds paradigm) for life. “If you aren’t LSD, you must condone illicit sex, adultery and homosexuality. ”

    How in your distorted, ignorant, arrogant world could you erroneously assume I condone illicit sex practices? Sorry brother Todd. You have slipped over the edge of irrationality. You might want to talk with your bishop. I’m certain he can suggest medication. Maybe some of the strong stuff that other women in the Ward are on.

    Keep writing though. Mormonism needs to be exposed.

    Like

  34. azteclady says:

    Kirk, see… we are feeding the troll aka sainttodd every time we address any of his ignorant screeches.(Mea culpa and all that, by the way)

    But on that vein, when the asshat puts homosexuality in the same level as adultery, what else needs to be said?

    Yes, todd, I “condone” homosexuality. Have a problem with that? Of course you do!

    I also “condone” humans being humans and seeking happiness and their own, freely chosen by each individual, path to heave (and to whichever heaven they aspire to, or none if that’s what they want). Have a problem with that? Hell, yeah you do.

    Gee, I’m gonna lose sleep over that.

    Like

  35. Roxanne says:

    Brief disclosure. I am LDS and have learned quite a bit reading discussions on this site as well as a few others.

    I have to say that Todd Williams is an embarrassment to LDS people. Azteclady, Kirk, Rick, Kitty and others have generally responded with temperance and intelligence. I admit that the doctrines of our gospel are not easily explained. I want you all to know that not all of us are like Todd. We don’t all respond in anger. We don’t suggest that a man’s daughter become Hefner’s girlfriend.

    Todd, grow up. You make us sad and disappointed.

    Like

  36. Kirk says:

    Azteclady, thank you. And you are correct. The “asshat” (still laughing over that one) has joined the ranks of other babbling idiots whose “ignorant screeches” (another good one) don’t merit responses.

    Looks like members of his own cult are lining up against him as well.

    Like

  37. Todd says:

    In Kirk’s distorted, ignorant and bigoted worldview; adultery and homosexuality (and presumably fornication) aren’t illicit sex practices. (And he claims that I have slipped over the edge of irrationality.)

    I suggest that he talk with his witch doctor and get off the strong stuff that he is on.

    To my knowledge, Mormons make no claim of uniqueness regarding the condemnation of illicit sex, adultery and homosexuality. We recognize and applaud the diversity of support there is in the world condemning these immoral practices that weaken our families and destroy the fabric of our society.

    Kirk and others can try to make their koolaid as sweet and as palatable as possible, but they’ll have an impossible time covering up the rotten, putrid stench.

    Sorry for the rambling,
    Todd

    Like

  38. Todd says:

    Okay…

    Strike the suggestion that Kirk introduce his daughter to Mr. Hefner. I’ll admit that the thought of doing that is abhorring.

    It is amusing when someone like Roxanne jumps in here to call me out as an embarrassment to “LDS people”, while remaining silent to the blatant lies and distortions of LDS thought and doctrines propounded by Azteclady, Kirk, Rick, Kitty and others; many of whom are ex-mormons or jack-mormons intent on smearing the church.

    Instead of trying to silence or smear me, why not make your own, apparently superior, voice heard? You’re the embarrassment to LDS people.

    By the way, Azteclady NEVER responds with intelligence and temperance. Your suggestion that she does is conclusive that you haven’t spent much time on this blog.

    Like

  39. Roxanne says:

    What I’ve learned here Todd, is that you are an embarrassment. I believe that our belief system is based on Christian love. I’ll readily admit that much of Mormonism seems to be based on a Christianity whose wellspring source is early America; fraught with 19th century worldviews. It should be stated that there is also much love, understanding and togetherness in the LDS church. It has taught me and my family many wonderful life lessons and cherished memories.

    I’m at least open minded enough to understand the frustration and anger that others feel when certain aspects of LDS church history is exposed. You seriously do need to grow up Todd. This may be a difficult thing for you to hear partly because you are in the middle of an argument here. But it is true. Again, it must be said. You are embarrassing yourself and other members of the church.

    Please refer me to a place where Kirk favors or prefers illicit sex acts. I know that I speak for many others in the church when I apologize for Todd’s comments. He twists words and spin sentences into shallow arguments full of hate. Todd, you seem like a rather intelligent man Todd. You write fairly well.

    What has happened to you?

    Like

  40. Vaughn says:

    Todd

    If I were in Kirk’s shoes, I’d find you and kick your little spineless ass. To quote others – you are an indignant asshat (love that one too).

    Trying to understand your logic is difficult – similar to discussions with autistic children. (I apologize in advance to autistic children everywhere). I really can’t follow your line of thinking when discussing polygamy as a practice. Your logic is bigoted, ignorant, arrogant, suppressing and immature. Sorry sainttodd.

    As Roxanne stated; GROW UP! !

    Like

  41. Todd says:

    Vaughn,

    Let’s see YOUR, apparently superior, logic in print out where it can be examined and discussed. To date, all I’ve seen is spineless rantings about MY, apparently inferior and childish, logic. (Talk about spineless.)

    As I’ve stated: SPEAK UP!!

    Todd

    Like

  42. Todd says:

    Roxanne,

    Thanks for the tender reminder.

    The tit-for-tat rhetoric that Kirk and I (and others) have been lobbing at each other is intended to be over-the-top, edgy, and inflammatory in order to invoke an emotional response. I WANT it that way.

    Please forgive me if it offends you.

    I heartily suggest you do what you just did, and post your own view. But, be warned, don’t expect others to embrace it.

    Kindest Regards,
    Todd

    Like

  43. Kirk says:

    Discussions concerning emotional topics are often heated. Todd seems a bit “out of sorts” with his past few posts. I’m willing to cut him some slack, although I have learned not to respect his opinions, logic or temperament. Hell, maybe he’s having a bad day. Maybe a respected female (major oxymoron in Todd’s life) actually read his ramblings on this site and decided not to become one of his sister-wives.

    At any rate, I would urge a bit more civility, as I believe that much can be learned from intelligent, civil discussions. Certainly, there must be someone other than Todd out there who can represent an honest, open discussion about Mormonism. One of the problems, as Rick has stated, there are very few open minded, intelligent men who – after serious dispassionate study, actually stick with Mormon theology.

    Maybe Vaughn has learned that Todd’s comments don’t merit the energy required to even post further. I would be anxious to here more from Roxanne if she is still around.

    Like

  44. Todd says:

    Roxanne, Vaughn and other offended LDS peoples,

    Please note in Kirk’s 2:04 pm post above (and many other posts by “intelligent” exmos) the over-the-top, edgy and inflammatory remarks about respected females being an oxymoron in my life, my ramblings, and sister-wives.

    He follows these uncivil remarks with a call for more civility, followed by more embedded inflammatory (and uncivil) remarks about how few “open-minded, intelligent” men (and I presume women) actually stick with Mormon theology.

    So in his mind (and Rick’s), if you stick with Mormon theology, you’re unintelligent, not open-minded, and you haven’t studied the doctrine seriously or dispassionately.

    So, you see, he’s made an art form out of claiming the moral high ground whilst propogating the very immoral and uncivil behavior he purports to abhor. That’s the koolaid and the stench.

    Drink it if you will, but don’t blame me when you get gastrointestinal pains.

    I have no problem when others are critical of me on this blog. I expect it.

    You can also expect that I will dish it right back, and quite often in a tongue-in-cheek, edgy, and inflammatory style. That’s the fun in having these types of discussions. If that doesn’s suit your style, feel free to post your own view in your own style.

    As of yet, Natalie hasn’t asked me to leave, amidst calls from some to that effect. Until she does, I will feel free to post whenever I feel so inclined.

    I, too, would be anxious to hear more from Roxanne. She sounds like a very well-grounded individual.

    Your humble brother,
    Todd

    Like

  45. Jay says:

    One of the problems, as Rick has stated, there are very few open minded, intelligent men who – after serious dispassionate study, actually stick with Mormon theology.

    LOL Kirk. There’s a lady in my ward with a Phd in Astrophysical Engineering from Stanford. There are a billion counter-examples to this. Several of the Apostles were Surgeons(Nelson), Lawyers(Too many to list), Mathematicians(Talmage), Professors(Eyring)etc. The former head of Harvard’s Business school was LDS, he left to be the president of Rick’s college. If you define unintelligent as being Mormon then well, there isn’t much to say.

    This argument always rubs me the wrong way, because the people who spout this crap know it isn’t true, but just want to belittle the faith anyways.

    Like

  46. Kirk says:

    You’ve identified the very problem Jay. The examples you mentioned are too passionately vested and personally tied to the church to be fair and intelligent about their decisions. Intelligence, common sense and reason are never a match for emotion, personal interest and family ties. There are far more Muslim intellectuals than Mormons. With approx. 1.6 billion Muslim, this would make sense. Does this make their religion correct? I submit that it doesn’t. This isn’t crap being spouted Jay it is truth. Go back and read Rick’s statement, and then read your response. You quoted examples of men whose lives, families, personal emotional well-being are so tied to what they hope to be true – they could never leave. Even if they knew Joseph was a con man.

    Like

  47. Todd says:

    Your excellent examples notwithstanding, Jay, Kirk and Rick’s logic is flawed, because the truth of something isn’t defined at all by how many intelligent, dispassionate, open-minded people believe it.

    Truth is independent. Things are true because they are.

    It’s the discovery of what is true and the discussion about those discoveries that provide much energy and excitement in life.

    In Kirk’s world…

    If you’re intelligent and mormon, you’re not dispassionate or open-minded.
    If you’re dispassionate and mormon, you’re not intelligent or open-minded.
    If you’re open-minded and mormon, you’re not dispassionate or intelligent.
    …and so on.

    In his view, there’s no such thing as a dispassionate, intelligent, open-minded mormon. He readily admits his prejudice.

    Many mormons have similar views regarding a “testimony” of mormonism. If one follows the prescribed steps to obtain a testimony, and a testimony isn’t given, then one didn’t really follow the prescribed steps, or they didn’t follow them long enough or sincerely enough. It’s impossible to convince a mormon, who did follow the prescribed steps and who did receive a testimony, otherwise.

    Like

  48. Rick says:

    Wow, I miss a day and see what happens? Looks like I’ve missed out on the pissing match again…

    oh well.

    I’ll say a few things. First, religious faith tends to continue when it works for the person — all things considered. We tend to defend our investments, until they aren’t working. Mormonism has done well investing its members quite young in the “work.” Missions, tithing, temple marriage, doctrine of eternal marriages and families and the guilt therein for straying from “the plan….”

    So it’s no surprise to see such aggressive defense of the lifestyle, despite what many see as quite illogical. I think we are seeing a dramatic shift away from organized religion — Mormonism notwithstanding:

    Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Mormonism as that much more bizarre than most religions. After all, Joseph borrowed his early claims and doctrines from the religions and legends he was familiar with. Even otherwise intelligent scientists sometimes suspend logic to comply with family traditions and mythological legends. But with easier access to objective information and history, the younger generations are leaving religions behind:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-03-09-american-religion-ARIS_N.htm

    It will take time. The existing religions will change to survive — mormonism at the front of “change” with its claim of “modern revelation.” How convenient.

    But again, I applaud its willingness to adapt to reality. We will all benefit — at least those of us that choose to live with and around those evolving daily.

    Until then, let the pissing matches play on!

    ~Rick

    Like

  49. Natalie says:

    Wow. I don’t really know what else to say. LOL. Welcome to Trapped! Now, back to the book.

    Like

  50. Kirk says:

    And, round and round we go:

    In Todd’s myopic view . . . “If one follows the prescribed steps to obtain a testimony, and a testimony isn’t given, then one didn’t really follow the prescribed steps, or they didn’t follow them long enough or sincerely enough.”

    How about the millions who have followed the steps, studied and weren’t “given” a testimony? In Todd’s words, this just means that the process wasn’t done long enough or sincere enough. In simpler terms – if you didn’t receive a testimony, it’s your fault. (More guilt) Couldn’t possibly be a result of honest prayer, study, reflective thought, intelligence, scientific study, LDS flawed and hidden history, common sense, reason and sincere desire to know the truth.

    Look, simple fact: LDS folks don’t have a corner on “sincere, believe it with all my heart, ‘every fiber of my being’ testimonies. I heard a new one the other day from my LDS neighbor and friend. He said that every cell in his body knew of the truthfulness of the gospel. Interesting that his view of Joseph Smith differs from orthodox LDS folks. He believes that Joseph Smith was a “fallen” prophet. He believes that Joseph and Brigham strayed from God’s will when they practiced polygamy, and were even further off base with the racial doctrine concerning blacks. Somehow he reconciles all of this in his mind, yet still firmly has faith with every “cell of his body.”

    It’s clear that Todd is an angry Mormon. Reading is tyrades and “useless dribble” amuses and confuses. But, he has a testimony – and like the people who flew airplanes into buildings – will not be moved from that testimony.

    I challenge anyone who has read this blog site to show me one example or even loose inference where I support illicit sex as Todd has alleged. You can’t because it doesn’t exist. Again, the asshat, Todd, believes things are true only because he lies about them.

    More later . . .

    Like

  51. Rick says:

    Well let’s see — Adj. 1. illicit – contrary to accepted morality (especially sexual morality) or convention; “an illicit association with his secretary”
    licit – sanctioned by custom or morality especially sexual morality; “a wife’s licit love”

    I guess I would probably support “illicit sex” in Utah. I’m pretty much for most things that are “contrary to accepted morality” here, like gay rights, responsible sex outside the bonds of temple marriage, shopping on Sunday (or doing almost anything on Sunday — no lines!), accidentally breaking the legs of Chris Buttars (did I say that???).

    Anyway, what I think should be “accepted morality” is requiring a “MPDL” (marriage & parent’s driver’s license) before a person can get married or bear children. The person would successfully demonstrate that they really know who they are marrying, have a commitment for the other beyond “the spirit told me she is the one” (aka, hormones), and have the capacity to responsibly raise and care for a child — and that doesn’t mean they know how to apply for food stamps.

    In my perfect world.

    ~Rick

    Like

  52. T.B. says:

    Thanks, Carla. You poked Todd and look at the garbage he produced. Such a bore.

    Like

  53. Kirk says:

    T.B – – – Glad you’r still with us. I look forward to more posts from you.

    Like

  54. Roxanne says:

    My grandchildren gave me a computer for Christmas. They also gave me 6 months of lessons to learn some word processing and basic internet skills. I have loved the information and dialogue that would not have been accessible without this wonderful technology.

    However as always there is another side to the coin. Because my entire life has been fairly consumed with my LDS religion, I have naturally gravitated to topics related to Mormonism. Not all that I have learned has been good for my testimony. As I have written previously, I feel that my life has been greatly blessed largely due to my association with the LDS community.

    The reason that I am taking the time to write here is mainly due to the apparent public perception against Mormons. My reaction to this negative perception is quite different today than it was just a few short months ago. You see, my grandson was married in the LDS temple in November of last year. His new bride’s families aren’t members and couldn’t attend the wedding. I really couldn’t understand their anger at the time. My attitude I’m sure, was based on my Mormon upbringing. Looking back on it, I can better understand how a family (including children, aunts and uncles, parents etc.) would want to participate in the beautiful ceremony that binds two young people together. My question here is: why can’t two people be married in a ceremony that allows a legal marriage so that everyone who is important in these young can witness the first kiss and the announcement of “man and wife”? They could then be allowed to be sealed in a private ceremony soon afterwards. I know it is allowed in other countries. I have seen the pain and anger that the current practice causes and was just thinking that I needed to say something about it.

    I have read much about Mormon history this past few months and learned things that I had never heard of before. I believe that I’m smart enough to understand and filter information, but I feel sad that my church didn’t have enough faith in me as an adult to tell me the whole story from the beginning. I don’t really feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me, but the more I learn, I have to admit that the more I am disappointed. And my disappointment extends to many of the LDS people that write on this web site.

    I want to say again, that Todd really should be ashamed of himself. I have learned things from him. He sounds smart. I want you all to know that LDS aren’t like him. When he started talking about the mistresses that someone has or telling them to have daughters be Hefner’s girlfriend. Well, it made me sick to think that the light that he is shedding on our LDS people is not very good.

    Please excuse me. I just wanted to share a few thoughts.

    Like

  55. K*tty says:

    Roxanne, I am not a prophet, but I think I can safely state, that someday your suggestion of having marriages first, that all can attend, and then going to the temple later, has great merit. When enough people complain, the church changes. That is basically why the church changed the temple format that Joseph Smith said could never be changed. People were quite frankly creeped out by the slitting of the throat and the naked touching. And that had to change also when the church began having converts from out side the United States and temples built there. I so get where you are coming from. Finding out all that information not taught, but still in church books, and all those fake stories to promote faith, is disturbing. I don’t expect Smith or the early prophets to be perfect, but lying and covering up their indiscretions is unmitigated rubbish. Case in point is, the fairly new thick manual about Joseph Smith, and nary a word about his wives, being sealed to men and the deal he made with the Kimball’s to marry their 14 year old daughter. And that was only after, he had asked the very married Mrs. Kimball and promised salvation to their entire family. The Kimball’s thought it was a great deal, even though the daughter balked a little. She had to take one for the team and the greater good. Oh, there is so so much more you will find out. Keep looking with an open heart and open mind. You are well on your way.

    As far as Todd goes, you just need to appreciate his humor. I think he stands up for the church the best he can. Try not to take him so seriously. Reading between the lines, he has a good heart. And I will go out on a limb and say he is a good Mormon.

    Like

  56. Todd says:

    Thanks for the kind assessment K*tty. I believe you’ve got a good heart also. You’ve gone “out on a limb” for me a few times, which is really saying something on this blog, where I do my best to draw ire.

    All I can say to Roxanne (and other offended mormons) is….relax. If my edgy, sarcastic remarks offend; please know that they’re said with tongue-in-cheek and you shouldn’t take them seriously. I certainly don’t. They’re not said in anger or malice, or with any form of hatred. I want, and fully expect, a reaction. If it makes you want to call me names or “kick my ass” so much the better.

    If you want scholarly, well-researched, mormon apologetics, please visit FARMS or FAIR.

    If you want faith-promoting stories, go purchase a Paul H. Dunn cassette. Or check out “Mormon Messages” on YouTube.

    But if you want inflammatory and edgy dialog and debate, mixed with a few cat fights and pissing contests, stay tuned.

    Afterall, we’re trying to boost Natalie’s traffic so she can sell more of her inflammatory anti-mormon books.

    Kindest Regards,
    Todd

    Like

  57. Rick says:

    Just so you know, Roxanne, I agree with Todd that you should visit FARMS, etc, if you are doing your research on church history. Just as you should listen to the Chevy salesman when you are interested in evaluating a Chevy.

    But as any good investigator knows, you should study both sides. Yes, there are many conflicting stories about the same events, so take it all with a big grain of salt, put all the pieces together, and you’ll find the truth. It may be painful — we want our understanding of history to remain intact, and it may not. But historical truth is just that. Truth. And it only happened one way. Joseph either had a vision, or he made it up. He either saw many angelic visitors (John-the-Baptist, Moroni, I mean Nephi, I mean Moroni, Peter, James, John, etc…), or he didn’t. He either translated many documents by God’s power, or he didn’t.

    The evidence is clear. But you should find it out yourself. Be aware that when studying, some sources will try to discredit the research by others by making personal attacks. Just look at the work and the truth will emerge.

    Good luck! Oh, and by the way, Natalie’s books (and many others) are not “anti-Mormon.” They are pro-truth. I think we would all agree that anything that brings out the truth is a good thing. I call it Pro-Mormon because it helps the church come into integrity with the truth.

    ~Rick

    Like

  58. azteclady says:

    I always find it interesting that whenever an individual’s personal experience differs from the publicly accepted norm, they are told that they lie, and out of the woodwork come individuals claiming that s/he obviously must have a personal grudge and is set to discredit his/her family, church, community, whatever.

    And so a person’s actual experience and world view become “inflammatory anti-” instead of her reality.

    Because, it seems to me, allowing the validity of a reality and experiences that differ from the accepted norm seems to threaten those who lack the internal fortitude to accept that their beliefs and attitudes may not be for everyone.

    Good luck, Roxanne, may you find truth and peace as you seek to learn more.

    Like

  59. Kirk says:

    Very good post Roxanne, and we are glad to have you on board. Please continue to have a little patience with us. Your kindness shines through in your writings and I’m certain that most who post comments here sincerely wish you the best in your journeys. I’m also certain that not everything you encounter on the www (wonderful wacky world) will be necessarily what you want or expect to learn.

    We support you in your quest for truth.

    Kirk

    Like

  60. Kirk says:

    Looks like Nat’s filter is broken

    Just testing

    Like

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