A Mormon bishop in Canada apparently came across my website and wrote to me to give me his opinion of my materials on Mormonism. We exchanged a few e-mails, and then the bishop cut it off - he didn't want to talk any more. Our correspondence is an excellent example of how Mormons deal with criticisms of their religion. I am therefore posting it here. In fact, as you will see, the good bishop challenged me to post it, for all the world to see.
Comments made by others who have read the correspondence are below our e-mails. My comments are at the end of the page. (If you would care to add your comments, either pro or con, I will post them here and forward them to the bishop - please keep them brief.)
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 23:17:53 -0600
Sorry Mr. Packham,
Your site bored me with the same old, tired rehashes dealt with by LDS defenders years ago. Especially pathetic was the message to investigators about "what the missionaries aren't telling you." Please...I almost feel like talking about this junk summary at our next missionary correlation, but it's not even worth it. Every single point you make has been more than adequately dealt with by our scholars. The same old use of discredited anti-mormon hokum for references (Saints Alive, WOW! There's a scholarly reference). Aren't you embarrassed? And what have you to offer me in place of what I know? Atheism? I've been there. No comparison with living a spiritual quest, and no thanks. After reading your little essay about leaving the Church it is clear to me that you were never really in the Church. Only in body. You never mention any spiritual experiences (of course, this would contradict your point in telling the story). In fact your story is completely devoid of the spiritual quest which is the lifeblood of all LDS faithful. You never experienced it. Face it. All your pseudo-intellectualizing collapses in the face of the fact that you were a member of the church but never truly lived a spiritual life. It's not surprising you left. Can you accept or understand that the things of God are known by the Spirit of God? I've been in the church for thirty years. A convert. I've heard all the arguments by both sides and in the final analysis I have a tool to guide me which you never seem to have had. Pure revelation from heaven. You make a great deal of those that have had bad experiences in the Church. COME ON! Is there any church that doesn't have these poor people. Any site that parades these disgruntled ex-mormons instantly loses credibility with me. Again, anyone who has been "in" the Church and surrounded by members for so long and STILL denies the joy and love and pleasure of being a faithful saint plainly is in denial. We see what we want to see. I look for love and joy in the Gospel and found it. As a bishop I see it all the time. Yes members have problems. It's part of the human experience. Deal with it. Well, thanks for letting me ramble.
May the God you deny bless you with all you deserve
Thanks for taking the time out from your busy schedule to set me straight. I think it is truly remarkable how you Mormons - especially if you hold the priesthood - have such a perceptive spirit of discernment that you can get into the depths of my soul and read my innermost thoughts and feelings after spending a few minutes on my web page.
Only you got it all wrong.
Since you are already bored, I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that, like most Mormons, you have absolutely no idea about the real reasons people leave that church of yours. You have the pat answers already, so you simply "see what you want to see," as you put it so well.
At 11:17 PM 5/29/01 -0600, you wrote:
>...[SNIP]... Every single point you make has been more than adequately dealt with by our scholars.
Says who? I have seen the kind of junk that is put out by FARMS and other Mormon apologists, and it is pitiful. Even your own "scholars" admit that in the last analysis, evidence doesn't count, but only the "burning in the bosom" that you are all brainwashed into feeling.
My website may have been "boring" to you, but I have had hundreds of people thank me very much for helping them to see the hoax that Mormonism is. They did not find it "boring," but "eye-opening" and liberating.
Now, Bishop, if you would care to show me how anything of substance on my webpage is incorrect, I urge you to do so. I gladly accept correction if it is based on facts. See my "friendly challenge" at <http://packham.n4m.org/challnge.htm>. Send me some of your Mormon apologists' pathetic, old, tired rehashes of their standard rebuttals to critics of Mormonism, and I will be glad to point out to you how they are lies and logically unsound. Start with just one issue, such as Joseph Smith's lying about his so-called "first vision." And please, no more "ad hominem" objections, even though that is pretty much stock-in-trade for Mormon apologists.
From: "limit up" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Boring
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 19:12:43 -0600
Read through your own story again. You show me where there is any significant reference to personal spirituality. If I got it all wrong, then it's only thanks to your lack of detail in the story. The way you describe your experience is all cerebral, but nothing of the Spirit. No need for the spirit of discernment. It's obvious. I realize your story is only a summary, but, really, take a closer look at the way you've written it. See if I don't have a point. As for pat answers? Please... Your repetition of the same tired arguments against the Church are what bored me in the first place.
As far as knowing why people leave the Church, don't worry, I am quite confident I know the reasons. Well, Richard, I wish you happiness and joy. This world is filled with so much good, may you partake of much of it. Oh, and I would suggest leaving out the paranoid references to the LDS taking over the government and other such nonsense, unless your purpose is simply to provide amusement. Sincerely,
From: "limit up" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Boring
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 20:22:18 -0600
I see there is more of your response. Oops!
I'm afraid your dismissal of the spiritual confirmations of truth (which you say we are "brainwashed" into having - there's another "pat" anti-Mormon term, typical of those who deny the Spirit.) betrays your utter lack of understanding of how God works. You think I am impressed with your challenge? Sorry. Evidence of a different nature impresses me. There is an entire spiritual dimension of life which you have missed out on and deny, Richard - I don't care how long you were in the Church. The so-called "evidence" you provide on your site pales in comparison to the truths I have experienced through the Spirit. It pains you that your "opponents" (faithful LDS) choose the spiritual evidence over your precious logical arguments in the final analysis. Sorry. You ridicule them, but they understand how God works. With all your brain-power, you don't. I realize that will sound "pat" and arrogant to you, nevertheless it is the truth. I matters to me not one whit what mountain of "logic" you erect, it is only a mole-hill compared to the spiritual joy and knowledge I have received through the spirit. You go ahead and scurry around on the tricycle of logic. I will continue to fly up on the jet plane of spiritual learning. You deny the plane even exists, like a little child refusing to look up. Sorry. It's real. Zoom!
I don't deny logical argument and the place of material and historical evidence. However, your site presents "evidence" which I don't accept, and our apologists present "evidence" which you and your anti-Mormon crew don't accept. Where does that leave us? It leaves me with the unlimited joy and endless adventure of the Spiritual world in addition to the wonders of this world. It leaves you with atheism. Sorry. And I quite understand that a person can live a fulfilling, happy, joyous life without the LDS church, but again, they are quite happy and content on their tricycle, while I am happy on my jet plane of spiritual truth. Not that I am any better than anyone. I have simply chosen to seek after the spiritual life available in my Church. You have chosen differently. Your single-minded reliance on mental tools limits your understanding of the truths about God. That is the plain (plane?) truth.
Yes, I see what I choose to see, and what a glorious, "eye-opening", liberating vision it is. There is absolutely nothing like it that I've seen in the world and it's a tragedy you are steering people away from it. And in it's place you offer atheism? Let's see,...prophets, additional scriptures, modern revelation, the glorious Plan of Salvation, the wondrous Atonement, temple work, building up the Kingdom of God, personal revelation from God or,...a godless philosophy propped up on skillful rhetoric. Hmmm...tough choice. I'll keep inviting people to partake of the opportunities of the Restored Church, thank you very much. Oh, and I'd rather be "brainwashed" by God than be liberated by your atheism.We'll see how liberated your victims feel at judgement day. I wonder how much your "friendly" challenge will mean at that day?
Your comments only confirm me in the truth of that old adage, "You can lead a Saint to knowledge, but you can't make him think."
You should be ashamed to be associated with an organization that is based on lies and deception, and which continues to deceive and lie, both to its members and to the public. Your only excuse can be that you are a victim of slick salesmanship and expert brainwashing. If you do not realize that, do some reading on brainwashing techniques, and - if you have eyes to see and a brain to think - you will see your church portrayed exactly.
You have been given thousands of clues to the truth, but you ignore them. What a shameful abrogation of your own humanity!
Since you do not value facts, but only "testimony" I will "bear my testimony" to you:
I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with every fiber of my being, that Joseph Smith was not what he claimed to be, that he was a liar, a fraud, and an adulterous lecher, and that the religion he founded is based on lies and deception. My testimony is the result of much careful and sincere prayer and study, and the Spirit of Truth has testified this to me, and continues to confirm it to me more strongly as each day passes. This knowledge has enriched my life and brought me joy and happiness such as I had never known before.
If there is a God, you will someday stand in judgment before him, and he will ask you, "My dear child, couldn't you SEE that? Why didn't you ask more questions? How could you fall for such a scam? Didn't I give you a BRAIN? What do you think it was for?"
For your next scripture reading, allow me to suggest that, instead of the Book of Mormon or the D&C, you read Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor's New Clothes."
You have been deceived, duped, flummoxed, bamboozled, my friend. Open your eyes!
"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
From: "limit up" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Boring
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 10:48:37 -0600
For all your worship of "thinking" it is interesting how blind you are to how twisted your thoughts and conclusions have become. To see the LDS church in action every day, year after year doing good in the lives of millions and yet to have the perverse view you have is remarkable - but not surprising. This is exactly how Satan works. Textbook. Thanks for reinforcing my testimony. For your next scripture reading, try reading about yourself in the story of Korihor.
The vicious, slanderous terms you use to describe Joseph Smith have been expressed to me before, and as before, the spirit of hate and bitterness testify of the true nature of your motivation and character. The joy and happiness you pretend to in your "testimony" are a sham if you have such animosity in your heart. "Think" about the hate in your words, Richard. "Think" about the negativity and bitterness which permeate your website. "Think" about how you fulfill the prophecies about those in the Last Days who call good evil. For all your mental genuflecting before the god of "facts", your knowledge hasn't developed into much wisdom. Your thinking doesn't impress me as much as the obvious spirit of the Father of Lies which influences you.
Your talk of "brainwashing" is juvenile. Grow up. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the LDS church and some common sense will immediately see through such a baseless criticism. And do some reading of what defines a "fact" please. Your understanding of that concept needs some refining. As I like to say, "There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are anti-Mormon 'facts'!"
Don't bother answering this email. Our conversation is finished. I usually like to take it this far just to see the true colors of the anti-Mormon blossom. And emerge they did. Same as usual. It is clear to me who you worship. I'll save you emails and use them as examples of the pattern for my youth firesides.
At 10:48 AM 6/1/01 -0600, you wrote:
> Don't bother answering this email. Our conversation
>is finished. I usually like to take it this far just to
>see the true colors of the anti-Mormon blossom.
So, you're one of those "hit and run" commenters? You start to throw rocks and then call it off? That's fine with me, but I do want to make a couple of comments.
You say that you see hate and anger in my website and in my words to you. Bishop, you see what you want to see, and I have responded to you in the same tone in which you first wrote to me. YOU might want to think about the arrogance, pride, self-righteous pomposity in which you first wrote to me. I receive a lot of e-mail from Mormons. Those who write in a kind and rational way receive from me a similar kind of response. We discuss our differences non-judgmentally, and although we may not agree, we both learn from the exchange. You, on the other hand, fill your e-mails to me with emotionally charged words, vague condemnation, irrational blatherings. I ask you for rational comments, and you simply preach and pontificate and pronounce. You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind (Hos 8:7), you reap what you sow (Gal 6:7, Job 4:8), what you cast upon the waters will return to you (Eccl 11:1).
> For your next scripture reading, try reading about
>yourself in the story of Korihor.
Funny you should mention Korihor. A few months ago one of your fellow Mormons (same kind of self-righteous arrogant high priest as you) exercised his priesthood to pronounce on me the self-same curse wherewith Alma cursed Korihor, namely, that I be struck dumb and have no more utterance. And this was to be a sure sign of the power of his God and his priesthood. I immediately wrote him back and used my authority to prophesy that his curse wouldn't work, and that he would soon be giving me excuses why it didn't. I was not struck dumb. I didn't even get a sore throat. When I wrote him this, his first excuse was that it would take effect sometime later. I responded that Alma's curse took effect immediately. His next excuse was that he had not used the words "in the name of Jesus Christ." I suggested that he try it again and use the right words. (Alma hadn't used those words, either, actually.) His next excuse was that he had cursed me in anger, implying, I suppose, that one can curse effectively only with love and kindness. His final excuse was that only one priesthood holder at a time (e.g. Alma) has the keys to do such smiting, and he wasn't the one (implying, I guess, that I would have to be taken before Gordon Hinckley, as Korihor was taken before Alma). But here I am, still talking and writing. As the false priests of Baal could not call down fire from heaven in chapter 18 of I Kings, so the false priests of Mormonism apparently cannot strike anybody dumb. Would you like to try smiting me? Maybe your priesthood authority is stronger than his, you being a bishop and all...
>I'll save you emails and use them as examples of the
>pattern for my youth firesides.
As I will save yours, to show people how Mormons are not interested in the truth or in facts. Be sure and give your young people the URL to my awful webpage, so that they can see for themselves how low one can sink if for a moment they don't pay, pray and obey.
Actually, I would like to make you an offer, Bishop. How would you like to have me come to one of your youth firesides, and we can have a discussion about lies and liars? Your folks could see a servant of old Satan in the flesh, and could judge for themselves.
In fact, let's make it a full-fledged debate on the question "Was Joseph Smith a liar?" I will come to your stake at my own expense, we can work out ground rules for the debate, ask one of your local lawyers (non-Mormon) to act as moderator, and you will have the opportunity to fulfill the command at D&C 71:7. You will be able to fulminate and bear your testimony and play upon their fears and emotions, and I will present some facts. Let me know. (From your e-mail address I gather you are in Canada? Saskatchewan?) It should prove interesting.
I am quite serious about this offer: I am not just joking.
From: "limit up" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Boring
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 12:18:08 -0600
As I said, this conversation is terminated. Don't waste your time and mine by replying I said. But as I've seen before, the anti-Mormon hates to not have the last word! I've been anticipating your reply. You fit the pattern again! Congratulations! As far as hit and run goes, call it what you like, I don't have to play by your rules.
As is typical of many anti-Mormons, you are bothered (to the point of insults and desperate challenges) by my lack of faith in your "facts". You know very well there are numerous sites by LDS apologists on the net addressing your type of "facts" and underhanded tactics and remorseless rhetoric. Go there to satisfy your hunger for contention and debate. Our debate would be very short. You would spew out something offensive to the Spirit about Joseph Smith within 30 seconds, or tell some arrogant, irrelevant, irreverent story about how you bested a Mormon high priest (Oooohh! You're really something Richard! pathetic...) and everyone except you would realize the debate is already over.
If you're offended by my words, that's your choice, my friend, and I would suggest you refer to 1Ne 16:2 and 2Ne 9:40. Most of your email is the some-old-same-old. Fairly predictable stuff at this point: mockery of the priesthood of God, sarcastic posturing, self-contradictory blithering (you, an atheist, calling upon "authority" and "prophesying"? Please!), juvenile challenges ("Would you like to try smiting me?" Grow up Richard!).
I won't be returning to your site (I stepped in it once, but why would I step in it again?). I challenge you to have enough integrity to post our entire conversation, uncut (without slicing and dicing and interruption. I'd be very surprised if you did it).Your pseudo-fact-filled website adequately served a purpose in my life, however, which was to reaffirm my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel I profess. Farewell, and may God bless you with everything you deserve,
Well, it's the same old story, isn't it?
I accepted the bishop's invitation to share our correspondence, unedited and without interspersed comments, on the exmormon mailing list and the Canadian exmormon mailing list. And you are reading it on my website, where I have posted it, as he challenged me to do.
Of course subscribers to the exmormon mailing lists are probably biased, but they made some comments. I sent the first group of comments to the bishop, but he was not interested in hearing anything more of the discussion which he chose to start. He wrote:
From: "limit up" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Richard Packham" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Our correspondence
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 18:06:55 -0600
I'm not reading emails from you. I have no wish to further correspond with you (kicking a skunk or having a spitting contest with a camel is a waste of time!). Instant delete. Click. Gone. You are wasting your time. No perverted satisfaction for you from me (I can just imagine your thought processes: "oooh, here's a good one! Wait till he reads this!").
----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Packham
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2001 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: Our correspondence
> Here are a few more comments which I have received. Again, these are
> exmormons, so they are biased.
>...[forwarded comments deleted]..
> Haven't gotten any comments supporting you, bishop. Sorry. Maybe you
> haven't shared our correspondence (and the URL to my website) with your
> faithful flock?
> Best wishes,
Here are the comments I have received:
Richard and all,
This is what I wrote back to Andy:
Bishop, huh? Whoo hooo!
Those powers of discernment really come in handy when you critique a web site!
Back to business:
You said: "Every single point you make has been more than adequately dealt with by our scholars."
This just terrifies me, and it should rightfully terrify you. It's the same thing as the Nazi lieutenant saying: "Our leaders know what's right!" You have relinquished your own responsibilities of learning the facts to the very group whose interest it is to persuade you from knowing real facts from fiction! It's as if a Republican gets all his facts from Rush Limbaugh!
I, like you, was a convert. I joined at 17. I served a very faithful mission, and lived the church life to my very fullest until age 41. I raised 3 kids in the church, and lead the YM and EQ for many many years.
But we had a problem in our family: Our home evening motto was the "i" word: INTEGRITY. And integrity demands that you live on the outside what you know on the inside.
To make a long story short, while planning a gospel doctrine class I stumbled upon David Whitmer's "An address to all believers in Christ." (Boy, the don't quote that WHOLE address in the LDS study guides, do they?!)
Anyway, one thing led to another, and our entire family departed on a 6 month study of the truthfulness of the LDS claims. Andy, I have to tell you... it certainly would have been much, much easier to remain LDS. My wife goes back 5 generations, most of my business associates are LDS, my kids were fully steeped in it, etc. etc. etc. But the "i" word kept getting in the way.
It turns out that nothing is real in the LDS theology nor in its claims. There are no Lehites or Nephites. Gold plates did not get delivered and then sent back to Kolob or who knows where. Ancient Indians did not fight wars like the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont! Joseph was a convicted treasure digger! He did have sex with 14 year olds! He did marry 33+ women, many of them already married. He did die rather wealthy. The temple really is terribly related to free masonry. The Book of Abraham papyrus really is nothing more than the Book of Breathings. Mormon leaders did practice blood atonement. The doctrine has most certainly changed! What was true cannot now be false, and what was false cannot now be true!
It was so very hard to finally face the facts that the whole darn thing is based on a scam. But, once you see it, if you have integrity, you have to move off the dime and change your life.
And guess what? The earth did not cave in, and the Lord did not strike us with fire. Instead, our kids went off to colleges and universities of great reputation, my business has done fine, and our family is much closer and loving than ever. And our health is a lot stronger than the nearly dozens of LDS women we know dying of breast cancer and heart disease from overweight problems.
Don't take anything for granted. Your feelings are just that... feelings. Feelings never were facts. If so, everyone would always be right; no?
By the way, the exit out of mormonism does NOT have to be a godless life. We happen to be very spiritual Christians of the Lutheran mode of worship.
I hope you find the light in your life.
Oh, and by the way... all that guilt you have felt all your life as a mormon... well, that is just all made up by the LDS money-driven theology. Yes, there is a right and a wrong... and we are to fight the fight to do right. But truthfully, all have indeed sinned and will continue to sin by either commission or omission. It is not our righteousness that gets us anywhere anyway. It is the righteousness of Christ which we accept as a gift from God. If you don't believe it, re-read your Bible. It's in there - no kidding. If you read the Bible through non-mormon glasses you would be amazed!
Bravo, Richard! Nice job!
You know, it's amazing to me, how truly brainwashed a person can be, and this "bishop" is a perfect example. In every area of modern life, people are held accountable for the factuality (or lack thereof) of their own words. In every day life, we are all expected to stick closely to those facts which can be proven, and steer clear of speculation, or worse yet, deceit. In real life, outright lies can turn in to lawsuits (libel, slander, defamation of character, etc.). For some reason though, when it comes to the LDS church, all common sense is cast aside, all rational thinking, all cautiousness - and all the healthy skepticism that has sustained the human race for millions of years - is summarily dismissed. In its place, the so-called "spirit of discernment" - as though a warm fuzzy feeling is a suitable substitute for first-hand empirical data. I've got nothing against religion in general, but I, for one, will never mistake a warm fuzzy feeling for a genuine religious experience. If that were all it took to "prove" something were goose bumps, perhaps film makers would be our Gods. I've been moved and swayed more at the movies than I ever have at any church, but at least the movies don't pretend to be anything other than movies. Say what you want about Hollywood, but when it comes to factual integrity, even the phonies in the movie business have got more integrity than the mormons when it comes to fact-vs-fiction!
Thanks for sharing this correspondence. He is a great hypocrite, which makes him a perfect mormon dupe. I love his condescending rude arrogance, and then he accuses you! The great thing is that he has no clue that he is guilty of the very thing he accuses you of. I love the way he claims that your "anti-mormon" arguments have all been rebutted, but when pressed, he won't offer a single comment on any of them. It all goes back to "testimony", which all Mormons consider sacred in argument, but which is worthless as we all know. Don't they realize that all religious fanatics claim the same arrogant "knowledge" of their cause, though they may use different terminology. Of course they all denounce each other's "truths", and only theirs is the true and valid testimony. How pathetic, but surrounding themselves with like-thinking mental deficients is their only defense against truth and logic. You know this pompous jackass loves being a bishop and fancies himself a "Judge in Zion". What incentive does he have to find out he is wrong? He will have to go from a big shot who is halfway through the celestial kingdom gate to a nobody, who is just trying to understand life. How many arrogant mormon leaders could ever make that transition, even if they knew?
God, Richard, I haven't laughed that hard and for that long for as long as I can remember. I thank you and the Bis. for an enjoyable evening of comedy.
After reading the pompous ramblings of this bishop, it has only served to validate the many reasons I left the church. On leaving the LDS church, I have not lost my faith in God, nor have I become a horrible person, nor have I been "struck down," etc. His attacks are textbook of someone who is frightened and hiding behind a shaky wall. He will do everything to keep that wall upright in order to continue to convince himself that what he believes is true. I know - I've been there. I was a member of that church for 27 years. I absolutely refused to listen to any anti-mormon sentiment. What finally convinced me it was all a scam was to read from the church's own historical documents (which undergo periodic revisions, as you know) - not "anti-mormon rhetoric."
I feel for this man who is living in a very fragile illusion. He is able to see only what is on the surface of his religion. Were he to dig a little deeper, he would see the Truth - but, as you know, until one is ready to do such a thing and have their eyes opened, they will only throw the same kinds of jabs at people such as ourselves. He reminds me of a little hedgehog who curls up into a ball at the approach of conflict and lets his barbs stick out all over.
Richard, although I am not an atheist or agnostic, I appreciate your Web site. I learned a lot from it, and it helped to validate the things that I was learning on my own, as well as to give practical advice for getting off the membership rolls. I thank you.
I think his salutation in the first letter in response to your website says it all. Nothing against you, mind you. But if he truly believes in Mormon doctrine, he is doing nothing short of cursing you.
It also reminds me of the Chinese curse -- "May you live in interesting times." Reading this -- "May the God you deny bless you with all you deserve" with the former phrase in mind I think you will see what I mean.
As someone once said "Grace is getting what you don't deserve or not getting what you do deserve." Better he should have quoted this, but I guess that good-ole Mormon compassion and open-mindedness just wasn't present throughout this conversations.
God bless you (I mean that)
There is so much I could say about all this, but will only say this:
I want a bumper sticker that reads, "Korihor was right!"
Jeez, Andy is such a child...
Keep it up!
My never-Mormon husband wanted to know why the priesthood power never enlighted the bishops and ward leaders who called you to any church callings, if you were so devoid of any spirituality!
Second of all I would like to know why this poor chap can't use anything except his feelings. I wish he understood how incredibly dim and simple he sounds! All of my siblings, that have tried to save me, have given me the same schpeel (sp?) Gawd love'em, they try, but everyone of them who have borne me their testimony to try and get me back in the fold have confessed that they have not ever read a single thing (including the Book of Mormon) all the way through! At least not as an adult and with mature understanding. None of them have ever read anything but the Ensign, because it is not necessary. They have the burning and they know it to be the truth. As well as Joseph being the true and everlasting prophet.
Re: your conversation with the Bishop from Canada, he has the same schizoid personality that most Mormons have. All they can see is what is as far as their noses. I believe that Mormons have developed a dual personality, one that deals with the present and one that refuses to deal with any facts. I might call it Demon possession. Considering that they separate themselves from reality and another personality takes over.
Thanks, Richard, I needed a laugh! "Jet plane to spiritual truth"... that is a riot. Did he get that out of "especially for mormons part 26"? I'm afraid my jet plane journey in mormonism took me for a crash landing somewhere around the Sahara Desert where I was left to wander for all eternity. I was ever so grateful to have the exmorman website hand me over one of my "tricycles of logic" so that I could get a lift out of the dark despair of mormonism. I have been enabled to soar again, but now I only go first class, and have abandoned the mormon-run airlines, which only can land if every person on board has lived a perfect life, paid a full tithe and attended temple sessions on a regular basis.
Your email to Richard Packham is lacking in Mormon generosity and kindness. YOUR prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, said in a recent conference talk called, "The Work Goes On" (from the Saturday morning session, April 2001):
"We are not without critics, some of whom are mean and vicious. We have always had them, and I suppose we will have them all through the future. But we shall go forward, returning good for evil, being helpful and kind and generous. I remind you of the teachings of our Lord concerning these matters. You are all acquainted with them. Let us be good people. Let us be friendly people. Let us be neighborly people. Let us be what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ought to be."Have you returned "good for evil"? Have you been helpful, kind, and generous? Was your email and its various replies even charitable? No, no, and no!
You gratuitously attacked Richard...wrote to him on his website (and what were you doing there anyway? it is clearly marked as anti-mormonism)....he didn't come to you...and then you cowardly call the discussion to a halt when you can't handle anymore.
For two bits IF I thought you were really a Mormon bishop, I would write to President Hinckley and ask him if your bit of nastiness is the type of Mormon behavior he wishes to promote in his church.
I tried to read that diatribe from "Saskatchewan. Before I was all the way through it, the demon forces were so strong that my head was throbbing, and I went sick to my stomach. I had to shut the computer down and take time for prayer.
I haven't been in contact with the church in about 5 years so I have no idea just who this "bishop" would be. It's my guess that he is not a bishop in any sense of the word. Even if he "holds" the office, he is not honouring it.
I was so upset by the way my spirit reacted to "that" bishop. I copied off your pages, and mailed them to the Stake President of Saskatchewan Stake. I had to deal with him when I got my freedom.
In this letter, I explained that this e-mail address would put this person in Saskatchewan Stake. He claims to be a Bishop...be that as it may. I let him know I was concerned about the demonic activity which I felt, and asked," If that bad spirit can transmit itself via the net to me...what will happen to "seeking" people who are desperate for answers?"
I told him "All I can do is bring it to your attention and leave the rest to your judgment...... it may be that you have, not a bishop, but a smart-aleck to deal with".
I have served under three different bishops, high councils and even worked for the LDS Church for eleven years.
I have three close friends who have been LDS bishops who have recently left the Church. Not one of them left due to sin, such as infidelity or other selfish reasons. I can vouch for their integrity and character.
One was a sitting bishop and DNA molecular biologist who realized after studying it out in his mind and praying about it that there is not a shred of DNA science evidence to connect Amerindians to Israelites....
This friend has a loving wife and four children and when leaving the Church did not leave to join another church.
Another friend has been a seminary teacher for years, and a bishop, and left after studying and doing some real research into the Church's history and background. He wasn't sleeping around and was not a closet homosexual.
Another friend left during his second tenure as a bishop. He was also employed by the church at the time, received what he called serious threats from Church headquarters not to leave and actually caught a stranger in his home office rummaging through his files during this process.
This exbishop is one of the kindest and gentile men you will ever meet. He left after realizing that the basic history and tenets of the church are not true. He did not leave to join another religion.
Signature Books will be publishing next year a book which is an anthology of personal stories written by many ex-bishops explaining why they officially departed from the LDS Church.
FYI: Here are the figures for people who officially resign their membership from the church: Name removal requests processed over the past 6 years:
So lately about 80K want to leave officially each year. Are all of these folks drug users, sex fiends, adulterers, etc. I am sure that some of these people who leave fit that category but they are a minority. Most leave because they realize it is not true and their own integrity drives them out.
It is a myth that people leave because they are living in sin.
And contrary to your belief that only LDS people can have truly spiritual experiences, I have had many after leaving the church. In fact, I challenge you to have your own personal spiritual experiences separate and apart from the church that you use as a spiritual crutch. To do so is to truly "grow up" as you challenged Richard Packham to do.
Your correspondence with the Canadian bishop made me wonder if he was confident of the validity of his own beliefs. What a jerk! Why does he have to yell so loudly and emotionally and resort to personal attacks if he's so sure he's right? Maybe he read half a book once, scared himself and never read anything again or didn't understand it and never tried again, so falls back on feelings, feelings, feelings. This guy is a convert -- from who knows what. Converts to anything tend to make awfully good fanatics. Probably no intellectual background in anything close to religion/philosophy/sociology of religion. Wouldn't want to be married to him; I think he's a brute and a bully who may value his "priesthood" a bit too much. (Remember the line the preacher wrote in the margin of his sermon notes: "Argument weak here; yell like hell.")
It never ceases to amaze me how ANYONE can spew the vile filth that this "bishop," allegedly a "man of religion" (although certainly NOT a Christian one) did in his correspondence. Obviously, he is not what anyone would call a religious leader (especially a Christian one). One must remember, however, that this apparently deranged and completely mindless brainwashed individual is not a professional and fully trained religious scholar, fully schooled in theology, as found in the real Christian churches, but merely a volunteer. It would appear that this guy is merely trying to score a few "brownie points" on his way up the mormondumb corporate ladder.
Andy states that "You (and your victims) will be sorry on Judgment Day!" Clearly, he's hasn't a clue regarding reality as the only place he's going, along with his fellow brainwashed mormon cult members is not a Kolob like planet, but a place called Hell.
Real Christians need to feel sorry for this poor soul and pray for him - he needs it because, at the rate he's going, Hell IS going to be a terrible place for him to live for eternity.
After reading his pompous drivel, I've now got a "burning in my bosom" - got to run and take a few Rolaids to get rid of it.
My Concluding Comments
Emotionally Colored LanguageNotice how the bishop fills his e-mail with emotionally colored language. This is a common technique of Mormon apologists: defeat your adversary with your choice of words, rather than facts. Notice that he never justifies his use of these words and phrases. Here is a partial list which he applies to my website and my responses to him:
same old tired rehashes
same old use of discredited anti-mormon hokum
Aren't you embarrassed?
your little essay
utter lack of understanding
you think I am impressed
your precious logical arguments
the tricycle of logic
your single-minded reliance on mental tools limits your understanding
how blind you are
how twisted your facts
[your] perverse view
this is how Satan works
vicious, slanderous terms
spirit of hate and bitterness
negativity and bitterness which permeate your website
your hunger for contention and debate
you're really something - pathetic
I stepped in it [your website] once [i.e., like dog droppings?]
Not once does the bishop get specific with details to justify his use of these approbations. He simply hurls them out, no facts, no citations. The tactic seems to be based on the principle that you can beat your adversary if you simply say enough bad things about him in the worst terms possible. The bishop seems not to realize that the use of such colored language is mere cheer-leading for the benefit of the home team, and amounts to an admission - either conscious or subconscious - that there is no real substance to the argument.
I admit that I used a few such terms myself, in my responses to him. My only justification is that I assumed he deserved to get the same as he dished out (I am not a Christian, to turn the other cheek). However, I continually offered to back up my assertions with specific facts.
The Bishop's PointsOnce we remove all the emotional terminology from the bishop's words, we are left with the following main points, which I will comment on individually below (although I am placing them in quotation marks, they are not the bishop's actual words, but my summary of them):
Each of these points warrants comment.
- "All your points have been refuted by Mormon scholars."
- "Your references are not 'scholarly'."
- "You offer nothing but atheism to replace Mormonism."
- "You were never really a Mormon because you never had any spiritual experiences."
- "The 'things of God' can be known only by the Spirit of God; 'spiritual learning' is superior to facts/logic."
- "Every organization has disgruntled members."
- "We see what we want to see: you want to see evil."
- "'Brainwashing' is just a pat anti-Mormon term; does not apply."
- "You (and your victims) will be sorry on Judgment Day!"
- "You are influenced by Satan, the 'father of lies'."
- "Your slander of Joseph Smith shows hate, bitterness and animosity."
- "I like to take on anti-Mormons to see their true colors."
- "I won't debate you publicly because you would say offensive things."
"All your points have been refuted by Mormon scholars."As I said to the bishop, "Says who?" The General Authorities and Mormon apologists think so, and they have informed the general membership of the church of this 'fact,' but nobody else seems to have gotten the message. Does the scholarly world accept the Book of Mormon as an accurate description of ancient America? Do Egyptologists recognize the accuracy of Joseph Smith's translation of the hieroglyphics in his papyrus as recorded in the Book of Abraham? The list goes on and on. Nobody but the Mormons accepts Mormon scholars' "refutations" of their critics.
Actually, what should it matter to the bishop? A refutation by a scholar, in any field, must be based on facts and logic. But the bishop rejects the message of facts and logic, unless it agrees with his "spiritual learning."
The bishop seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth here.
"Your references are not 'scholarly'."The bishop objects to a few links I have to articles on the SaintsAlive website, run by Ed Decker. The articles that I link to on that site deserve to be evaluated for their content, and not necessarily their origin. To do otherwise is to commit the fallacy of the ad hominem argument. The reader should judge those articles on their own merits. (I find much of Decker's material to be biased and poorly reasoned, but it is not difficult to separate the valid from the invalid material.)
Here again, the bishop wants 'scholarly' material, but denigrates the very logic and fact upon which scholarly material must be based.
I should also like to point out that nowhere do I make the claim that my materials are 'scholarly.' They are intended for a general readership. However, the interested reader, by following my links, will find sufficient scholarly material.
"You offer nothing but atheism to replace Mormonism."Nowhere in my Mormon materials do I push atheism, nor do I try to proseltyze for atheism anywhere on my website. I firmly believe that each person must seek his own path, whatever it may be.
Nor do I feel that by criticizing Mormonism and showing that it is a fraud, am I obligated to offer anything to replace it. Suppose I have a friend who has invested all his life's savings in a corporation. I happen to know some of the inner workings of that corporation, and I know (or strongly suspect) that the corporation is practically bankrupt, its management is dishonest and incompetent, and unless my friend gets his money out of it, he will lose it all. Should I give my friend the information I have about this corporation? Of course! What next, then? Will my friend insist that I suggest some other place to invest his money? Is that my moral obligation? I don't think so. In fact, if my friend should tell me that he has decided to take his money out of the failing corporation, it would look very suspicious if I were to then say, "I just happen to know of another investment opportunity where your money will be 100% safe and give you fabulous returns!"
The bishop's assertion that he finds Mormonism much better than atheism is simply a self-serving assertion, nothing but testimony-bearing. His very supercilious comments belie the claim that one hears from many Mormons that "Mormons never knock anyone else's beliefs."
"You were never really a Mormon because you never had any spiritual experiences."The bishop here assumes that, because I don't talk about my 'spiritual experiences,' I never had any. He also assumes that all 'true' Mormons have such experiences. I did have such experiences. I did not discuss them in my story because I realized that they did not really amount to reliable evidence. Unlike most Mormons, I realized that those experiences were simply self-hallucination and the result of wishful thinking, or the kind of spine-tingling which everyone has when in an emotionally moving situation.
"The 'things of God' can be known only by the Spirit of God; 'spiritual learning' is superior to facts/logic."And imaginary things can only be known by people who can fantasize. Fairies can be seen only by people who are willing to believe in fairies. To abandon one's rational and critical thinking ability is to make oneself prey to any kind of superstition and charlatanry, and, in my opinion, one of the most unforgivable sins one can commit.
And if the bishop were right about this, then what would be the point for Mormon 'scholars' to be offering evidence to rebut their critics?
Actually, the bishop himself concedes the validity of facts and reason: "I don't deny logical argument and the place of material and historical evidence," for historical questions. And most of the material on my website does, in fact, deal with questions of history and fact: whether Joseph Smith lied about certain facts; whether the Book of Mormon is an accurate portrayal of ancient American civilization and religion; whether the Book of Abraham is an accurate translation of the Egyptian papyrus; whether Brigham Young taught that Adam is God; whether Joseph Smith made a certain prophecy and whether it later came to pass; etc.
But the bishop deals with such questions summarily - he simply does not accept contrary evidence: "...your site presents 'evidence' which I don't accept."
A much more serious problem with the bishop's reliance on 'spiritual learning' is that almost every religion makes the same claim to buttress its contrary-to-fact assertions. There are thousands of major and minor religions and sects based on alleged divine revelations, miraculous events, and the supposed inspired pronouncements of their founders or leaders. Their followers are all assured that the correct 'spirit' will - if they are worthy and obedient - testify to the truth of their particular sect. And, of course, such 'spiritual learning' often satisfies and fulfills the desire of the worshiper. Does it ever occur to the recipient of such 'spiritual learning' that millions of others have received equally strong 'divine' messages and experiences, each confirming that some other religion is 'true'?
The devout believer, such as the bishop, who may consider the abundance of such 'spiritual' confirmation of other, contradicting religions, usually has two responses at hand:
The first response completely abandons any meaningful use of the word 'true' in any absolute sense in which the believer usually uses it, and invites the reaction that truth then differs from one individual to the next, and that your truth is therefore completely irrelevant and of no interest to me.
- Those other religions are 'true' for those other believers
- Those spiritual manifestations are from Satan
The second response invites the question: how can one distinguish between messages from a 'true' source (God) and those from a false or evil source (Satan)? Here the believer usually must resort to circular reasoning, and say something like: "If it testifies to the truth (what I already believe), then it's from God; if it does not, it's from Satan." This is the idea behind Paul's self-serving pronouncment at Galatians 1:8: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." 1 John 4:3 has a similar test: "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God...." The only valid test, of course, would be to examine and compare the facts, which shows that 'spiritual' knowledge does not have much a priori value.
"Every organization has disgruntled members."That is quite true. And those are the people who are probably best equipped to point out the problems with that organization. Of course their statements must be weighed, like any other testimony, as to credibility. But simply to discard it out-of-hand, as the bishop would like to do, would be to try to sweep the dirt under the rug. These are the people who have been there, who have experienced Mormonism first-hand. Their testimony is just as valid as - perhaps even more valid than - that of the "millions of satisfied customers" which every organization and business touts.
"We see what we want to see: you want to see evil."This is a very apt description of the bishop himself. It takes no effort at all to accuse one's adversary of bias or prejudice or partiality in evaluating evidence. One can just as easily assert that "we refuse to see what we don't want to see." This attitude was condemned by Jesus, who said: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt 11:15 et al.).
"'Brainwashing' is just a pat anti-Mormon term; does not apply."Whether the term 'brainwashing' is appropriate to Mormon methods of proselytizing and indoctrination is, of course, a matter of interpretation. Anyone familiar with life in Mormonism will recognize many of the techniques of brainwashing (or 'mind control') in Mormon methods. See the extensive introduction to these techniques at the F.A.C.T. website.
The bishop actually admits that he has been 'brainwashed' - but by God. I guess that's OK, if it's by God. Or by someone who says he represents God.
"You (and your victims) will be sorry on Judgment Day!"This is the familiar 'emotional threat' tactic, usually the last resort of the religious apologist. It is sad that those who use such a threat do not realize how ridiculous it sounds to those who do not share their beliefs.
"You are influenced by Satan, the 'father of lies'."Another common tactic of someone who has no other basis for his argument: vilify the adversary, label him as evil. Very easy, very ineffective.
"Your slander of Joseph Smith shows hate, bitterness and animosity."My statements about Joseph Smith are factual and I can support them with documentation: he was a liar, a lecher, a deceiver, a braggart, a false prophet, a swindler and a hoax. To state the facts which support those allegations is simply a matter of fact. Any hate, bitterness or animosity is simply that which any moral person must feel toward a man of such character who has deceived millions. Such hate and animosity is thoroughly justified.
"I like to take on anti-Mormons to see their true colors."Here the bishop shows his own 'true colors': he is not interested in a discussion of facts, but he only desires to bait his enemy. He reminds me of a man I knew who loved to tease animals because that would prove that they are vicious. The bishop's interest is not in truth, but in scoring a cheap victory. As I said to the bishop: what you sow is what you will reap.
"I won't debate you publicly because you would say offensive things."Early Mormon leaders had no hesitation to debate their critics publicly. They saw it as an opportunity to 'spread the gospel.' In fact, the Doctrine and Covenants at 71:7 specifically commands Mormons to do so: Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Doesn't the bishop have faith in the promise of his own scriptures, that my 'shame shall be made manifest'?
Miscellaneous CommentsOne can only surmise what compels people to assert, as the bishop does, 'I am happier than you are!' It is like comparing orgasms: my orgasm is better than yours! Or artistic taste: my taste is superior to yours! What arrogance! What need in him does that satisfy? How can he possibly know, from spending a few minutes on my website, what my emotional status is (happy? depressed? desperate? content?)? He cannot know, of course. His words are based solely on the teachings of his church: Mormons are happy, non-Mormons are less happy, apostates and atheists are miserable. This is the arrogance of the True Believer.
He criticized my 'hunger for contention and debate.' And yet it was he who wrote first to me, with the (later) admitted purpose of taunting me until he had revealed my 'true colors.'
The bishop characterizes my suggestion that he try smiting me as a 'juvenile challenge': "Grow up, Richard!" He did not comment on how juvenile it was for his fellow high priest to smite me.
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