Saturday, May 06, 2006

Spiritual Vultures

I've been thinking lately and it seems I identify more with being an Ex-Mormon than I do with any religion I've practiced since. I was going back through old threads today trying to figure out where a comment someone posted went when I came across several comments from someone claiming to be Joseph Smith, Jr. I've included a link to his site if you want to read what it's about.

Behavior such as this burns me up. Just because I abandonned Mormonism because I've found some of it's claims to be false, it does not mean I'm ready to become a Fundamentalist Christian. Much like I believe the Book of Mormon to be a badly written alternate history novel, I do not believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God.

There is a term that describes people who engage in this kind of behavior: spiritual vultures. These people are ready as soon as someone questions their own faith to bring them into another fold, eager to show them how the faith they're questioning is wrong. Such people never think to question their own beliefs. While the Bible does actually contain some history, perhaps you should look into the science that shoots holes in some of its stories?

They never think that however insiginificant it might seem the person doubting faith is facing a crisis and needs compassionate guidance to help them through it. Instead, they offer a accept-or-be-damned approach that attempts to get the person in question to make an irrational decision based on fear. And with people leaving Mormonism, they compound the mistake by trying to quote from the Bible itself. (Note: The Mormons only believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. Do some freakin' research. It's not that hard to dig up a copy of the Articles of Faith.) Quoting the Bible at them won't do you any good, they already accept it as scripture, but a flawed one that has been retranslated too many times. (Please note the reason the Church of Jesus Christ does not use the Joseph Smith translation has to do with complicated copyright issues. The copyright for the JST is in fact owned by the Community of Christ. In an LDS copy of the KJV you'll find footnotes that refer to the JST.) And if you shout it at them, it is a very human reaction to retreat into their own comfort zones and ignore you.

The concerns I had about Mormon history were real and the more I knew, the less I wanted to find out. But even though my faith in it could have survived had it not been an either or choice in believing in the Book of Mormon, or believing that Joseph Smith was a lying, manipulative, polygamist scumbag who made the whole thing up. Unfortunately, I know too much to go back now and I'm not in the mood to lie through an interview with the Bishop. I've already gone through one Bishop's interview when I was eight, and several more as I moved up through the ranks of the Priesthood. I know the pad answers, but I can no longer speak them as though I believe them.

No, instead try a different approach. Talk to them. Find out why they're having doubts. Are they valid? Would they have a valid reason for leaving the faith behind? Do they just need someone to talk to so they can work it out for themselves? You can do more for a person in a crisis of faith by being the ear for them to speak to and the shoulder for them to cry on then you can by forcing a new belief system upon them.

And by the way, I'm fully aware of the fact that I'll probably be baptized again by proxy after I'm dead.


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