FAMILIES HELD HOSTAGE
BY ARZA EVANS
[Arza Evans is the author of the book THE KEYSTONE OF MORMONISM, Keystone Books, 2003. Mr. Evans is a retired college professor who grew up thoroughly indoctrinated with Mormonism. He went on a full-time mission for the Mormon church, served in several bishoprics, and was also a temple worker. About age forty he began some serious research into early Mormon history that led to traumatic but liberating changes in his life. His article (written 2004) is published here with permission. - Webmaster]
Karl Marx, the infamous prophet of world communism, advocated communal ownership of everything including wives and children. This, of course, would abolish not only private property but also the traditional family. Everything and everyone would belong to the community.
Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and other communist leaders, soon learned that abolishing the family was a big mistake. It even threatened their communist party security. These leaders found that strengthening the family unit also strengthened their control and power over people. Anyone who spoke against the party or party leaders were not only placing their own lives and fortunes in jeopardy, but also those of close family members. Very few men or women were willing to do this. Also, when any communist leader traveled abroad to another country as an ambassador, on an economic mission, or even as part of a ballet company, they were never allowed to take family members along with them. If a traveler should defect and ask for asylum in a Western country, their family back home in the Soviet Union, China, or Cuba would pay a very high price including possible execution. Again, very few men or women were willing to subject their families to this much trouble.
Early Mormon leaders were also quick to see the power of family ties. They even invented the non-Christian doctrine of eternal marriage and eternal families. Jesus did not teach eternal marriage nor did any of the Biblical prophets. (Matt. 22:23-30 and Luke 20:27-35) However, L.D.S. Church services often include sermons, songs, poetry, and even dramas depicting the idea that "families can be together forever."
A strong and brave man who is willing to face an enemyís bullets often melts and becomes compliant when faced with his motherís tears when she says, "Son we all love you so much, please stay active in the Church, pay your tithing, and go to the temple often so that we can all be together in the celestial kingdom of God. It would break my heart if you were not there with the rest of our family." This awesome power, a loving motherís pleading and tears, are at the disposal of the Church!
Sometimes Mormon missionaries become disillusioned with missionary work, with Mormonism, or both. Most of these missionaries however, stay on their missions because they do not want to embarrass their parents and other family members. It would be too humiliating to leave their missions and go home. They believe that they would not be welcomed at home. Fear of their familyís reaction forces these missionaries to continue with their missions whether they want to or not.
At first, the concept and slogan "families can be together forever" may sound like a harmless, romantic notion; but in reality it is perhaps the most controlling and stifling doctrine taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It effectively creates fear of ostracism, closes minds, and regulates behavior. Questions about Church policies, doctrine, or history can cause serious family problems, even divorce.
A man or a woman who, after a lengthy study, comes to the conclusion that Mormonism is based upon deception and fraud and who then decides to leave the Church must also be willing to give up his or her family. It may turn out that the doubter is able to persuade family members to change their minds about Mormonism, but the odds are against this happening. Instead, a person usually learns that family members have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that their highest loyalty is to the Church, not to a husband, wife, son, daughter, or even to truth. And a Church member who associates or sympathizes with "apostates" (even family members) fails his or her L.D.S. temple worthiness interview.
Even though some very expensive media advertisements depict Mormonism as family oriented, it actually breaks up many, many families and causes a great amount of pain and suffering. As a missionary, I helped break up a number of families when one person (usually the wife) became converted and then divorced the unbelieving spouse. I am very sorry for this and wish that I could go back and undo all of the damage that I have done. Missionaries are still breaking up families of non-members while trying to strengthen Mormon families.
The Church not only breaks up many non-Mormon families, it also breaks up many L.D.S. families. Utah has one of the highest divorce rates in America. Some of the causes of these divorces include: (1) Overwhelming financial pressures that result from having large families, payment of tithing, sending sons and daughters on missions, and from contributing time and money to other Church programs. All of this can cost a family thousands of dollars. A husband or wife is often forced to take extra employment outside of the home just to pay all of the bills and send out a missionary. (2) Arguments about going to Church meetings and temple attendance can cause alienation. (3) Arguments over Church policies and doctrine also contribute to marriage problems. (4) Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and depression can result from perceived failure to live up to the many many rules and requirements of the Church.
Although claiming to be family oriented, Church policy does not allow parents to witness the marriage of a son or daughter in a Mormon temple unless those parents are members in good standing and full tithe payers. This ticket to the temple can cost thousands of dollars. And since I refused to say that I believed in Joseph Smith and pay this extortion (about $5,000 tithing), I was not allowed to see my own son get married. Also, young Mormon siblings (usually under 18) cannot see an older sister or brother married in a Mormon temple even if the younger person is a faithful full tithe payer. This is not family orientation nor is it Christian. It is another cruel and heartbreaking policy of the Church.
A Heartbroken Mother:
I am a 55 year old woman who grew up in a prominent L.D.S. family. I tried my best to be a good wife and mother and to accept all of my Church callings. I took my children to Church and taught them to believe in Mormonism. After many years of abuse, I ended my "eternal" marriage and divorced my husband. This was not an easy thing for a woman who had been taught since childhood that marriage and family are "eternal" and that she needs a husband who holds the priesthood in order to enter the highest degree in the celestial kingdom of God.
After my divorce, I started to do some serious research into Church doctrine and history in order to strengthen my faith and testimony. The more I studied, the more I came to believe that Mormonism is based upon deception. This heartbreaking disillusionment has been even more painful than my divorce. My parents, my brothers and sisters, and also my children have turned against me. They are all still active Church members. My married children will not even let me be alone with my grandchildren. They are afraid that I may try to turn them against the Church. Adding to my pain is the guilt of knowing that I am the one who taught my children to believe in Mormonism and to act this way.
An Angry Father:
I am a Catholic who married a Mormon woman. I have always tried to be understanding and supportive of my wifeís religion. I even agreed to allow our children to go to her church and be brought up as Mormons. My oldest son and I have always been very close. When he decided to go on a two year mission, I agreed to support him even though I would need to work a lot of extra hours. When he came home from his mission, he married a Mormon girl in an L.D.S temple. Her family and my wife were able to see the wedding but I was not "worthy" to attend. I had to wait outside even though I had paid for his mission and part of his wedding. This made me very angry at the Church and also at those who went along with this cruel treatment. Since the wedding, my son and his wife donít want much to do with me because I wonít convert to Mormonism. The L.D.S. Church has destroyed my family! I am very sad and angry.
A Temple Wedding:
I still agonize over how much my wedding day must have deeply hurt my parents. I am their only daughter. I refused to drive to the temple with them for fear of smelling like my dadís cigarette smoke. I have grieved many times since then about my decision to get married in a Mormon temple with my parents standing outside shivering in the December cold. My grandparents and my brothers stayed home, as did my aunt and uncle and cousins.
We walked into the sealing room. Who was there for me? Not any of my family or people who really knew me, cared about me, or loved me throughout my life. The room was full of people that I hardly knew. The temple sealer gave a short talk and then recited some memorized words about us becoming kings and queens in heaven. There were no flowers, no music, no ring ceremony, nothing like the wedding I grew up looking forward to. I had no way of knowing all of this until it was too late.
We were pushed out of the room to make way for the next couple. The cycle time for weddings is only about twenty minutes. We walked out of the temple to where my parents were waiting. My mother was crying. My dad said I looked pretty. I felt horrible. I will never forget that sick feeling in my stomach as long as I live.
My wedding broke my heart and that of my family. I eventually left the Church and my husband but not before my children were taught that temple marriage is the only marriage truly acceptable to God. Today, I face the prospect of one or both of my children being married in the temple surrounded by strangers while I stand outside and wait.
Sometimes I think that non-Mormons and also Mormons who do not get married in the temple should include a statement in their wedding announcements that Mormon temple recommend holders (even close family members) are not invited and not permitted to witness their wedding ceremony just to show them how painful it is to be ostracized.
What organization can claim a stronger family orientation than the Cosa Nostra? Powerful family ties create a very tight and controlling group in the organized crime business. Right and wrong, legal and illegal, and moral or immoral mean nothing when compared with family loyalty. This family oriented organization has created some very serious problems in Italy and America. Then why should any organization brag about being family oriented instead of truth, kindness, love, and law oriented?
Jesus did not teach strong family unity and loyalty. ( Matthew 10: 35-37 and 12:46-50) He taught unconditional love. Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) Ostracism and alienation of family members or anyone else is not loving nor is it Christian. It breaks many hearts.