Chris Ralph and I were happy to support Tom Phillips and the fraud case against Thomas Monson because we believe that it’s ultimate aims are positive and the net gain will be good.
Many people, including the press, have got our motives wrong.
I think that says more about their own attitudes and motives than ours.
Some people just superimpose their thoughts, fears, biases and prejudices onto us.
However anyone else feels about what we are doing let me state categorically that our motives are only focused on the good of the members of the Church.
This is about openness and honesty in how the Mormon Church presents itself to investigators and it’s members.
It’s not about getting our money back or proving the Mormon Church wrong per se.
Many members of the Church are hurt by suddenly discovering the Church has not been entirely truthful.
THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE!
I’m doing this out of a desire to help the Church become more open and honest about the difficult issues which are causing so many people a lot of emotional upset when they discover them.
The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone, particularly my own family. I never want to hurt anyone, especially those I know & love.
I was always taught to do what is right no matter the consequence. Through my life, though at times it has been painful for me to be honest, I have always tried to do so. As a believing Mormon and now as a non-believer, I very much believe in honesty and integrity, in fact probably more so now.
It is my desire to be honest, along with my integrity and compassion which drives me.
My motives have always been about compassion as evidenced in my Sacrament Talk “Compassion For Those Who Leave.”
My heart reaches out to thousands of others around the world who struggle when they have a change of belief in the Church. I have already had hundreds of messages from people feeling trapped in their relationships and not being able to be honest with those they love. I have phone calls from Bishops, and I’ve even had a Stake President email me recently as he no longer believed and was desperate for support.
Thousands of members are struggling with the emotional trauma of dealing with the fallout from a change of belief. I feel your pain!
I am struggling to write this blog due to the tears welling up in my eyes as I think about those who are suffering.
YOU are the reason we do this!
I get messages and comments from hundreds of people with similar stories:
Many members tell me they live in fear and are closeted about their disaffection and loss of faith.
They feel that the family and community repercussions are too great to be honest with people.
They feel that to maintain even a modicum of a relationship with their loved ones they need to hide their true feelings.
They tell me that it’s scary to share their thoughts and to tell the truth because it opens them up to ridicule and harassment.
They have to hold back the pain for years whilst occasionally letting the tears flow as the feel completely consumed by the journey.
They often fear for their own sanity. They thank us for stepping into the arena to speak up on their behalf.
When I hear these comments I feel an increased desire to continue this campaign.
Some people have their own desires to fulfil. I desire to fulfil the desires of others, to be a voice on behalf of those who are voiceless. To raise the questions which many thousands of disaffected members currently cannot raise themselves.
Mine and Chris Ralph’s actions in supporting this fraud case against Thomas Monson is only an extension of our ongoing campaign for open, honest and frank answers to the questions we raised over a year ago with the series of Open Letters to the European Area Presidency and our Proclamation For Truth.
It is because of my compassion for others that I have agreed to act as a witness in this case. Hopefully we will encourage the Church to become much more open about these issues and become more supportive of those leaving the Church.
JOINT STATEMENT concerning summonses served on Thomas Spencer Monson:
This present case is Tom Phillips’ initiative. However, we were invited by him last December to submit to the District Judge letters outlining our own situations. Perhaps, in view of the many ideas which have been flying about since the news of the summonses broke, we could first state what this legal action, in our view, is NOT about:
It is NOT an attack on ordinary faithful Mormons. We have been long enough in those ranks to understand their outlook, and their need to believe in something to which they are committing their lives, and we also know only too well the pain of discovering, before we were ready to, the harsh realities of Mormon history.
It is NOT per se an attack on Mormonism as a belief system. We believe that as long as people are first made aware of all of the relevant historical facts which ought to inform their decision making, it becomes solely their choice and their business if they wish to hand over their money, time and efforts to the LDS church. When comprehensive disclosure becomes the normal practice, we will find no fault. We accept that some will choose to believe whatever they will, despite mountains of contrary evidence, and that is their inalienable right.
NOR, as far as we are concerned, is this a personal vendetta against Thomas Monson. We do not know him, and he has never met us. Unfortunately, he happens to be the man at this point who occupies the Church President’s office, and so the summonses have been served upon him. On a personal basis we feel compassion for a man of his advanced years, allegedly not in the best of health, who has recently lost his wife. He has been part of our Mormon culture. We always enjoyed seeing him wiggle his ears to entertain the children. It is a rare gift. We feel no personal animosity towards him.
This is NOT being done out of anger, but out of concern for the many who otherwise, will perhaps one day feel hurt and betrayed, as we presently do.
This action is being taken over what we consider to be unethical and fraudulent practices. Our view is based upon our own experiences, and also those of others within the Mormon community. These practices are approved and implemented by the church hierarchy. Our argument is therefore with that system and whoever is ultimately responsible for implementing such practices.
When members of the church are formally taught from childhood that they will only be with their families in the next life if they pay a minimum of 10% of their income to the church, (tithing being a requirement of entering the temple, where the eternal sealing of families occurs), a pattern of lifelong financial sacrifice is established. We have been taught that all hope of remaining with our loved ones in the next life, is contingent upon a lifelong monetary commitment to the church, and we have been led to believe that the keys to this eternal sealing are vested in the President of the church, currently Thomas Monson, who has authority to grant or dissolve such unions. We have been repeatedly instructed by those in church authority that God requires us to pay tithing before attending to any other household expenditure, such as rent, food, fuel or clothing.
It follows that those who default on payments, start to fear that they will lose their loved ones in the eternities. In certain cases known to us, defaulting tithe-payers descend into a state of despondency, feeling utterly worthless, sometimes losing the respect and confidence of their family members who depend upon them to be obedient to the law of tithing. In many cases obedience is accomplished only through fear and coercion, and the fear is induced by constant reference to and emphasis upon the LDS scriptures. Yet those scriptures themselves fail the tests of historical authenticity. A growing body of evidence, (not disclosed at present to the average tithe-payer), clearly points to them as being the work of Joseph Smith, and his contemporaries, rather than texts of ancient origin.
We contend that anyone faced with making a demanding financial commitment to the LDS church, deserves first to be presented with the full evidence concerning LDS truth claims, so that they may make up their minds without being misled. In the UK, such onerous financial commitments are usually undertaken with appropriate warnings and additional information, otherwise they are deemed “mis-sold”. We believe that any person seeking to join the LDS church in Britain, and all British members wishing to place their trust in the family sealing powers claimed for the LDS temple, first ought to be told, at the very least, why The Book of Abraham is not accepted by the rest of the world as an authentic translation, and why The Book of Mormon has much more in common with a 19th century novel than it has with 1600 year old Native American artefacts; they should also be informed of the real reasons which led to the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, including the shocking details of Joseph Smith’s polygamous and polyandrous extra-marital unions, in the name of God, with women and girls, some as young as 14.
If, knowing these details, candidates choose to proceed with their baptisms or temple ordinances, none will later be able to claim, as we now do, that they have been deceived. At present however, that is very much not the situation, for most tithe-paying temple-attending members have little or no idea about the true history of their religion, or the profound lack of evidence supporting many of their tenets.
We would like to see the church admit that it has erred grossly for many years in neglecting to address these matters openly and honestly as a matter of routine. We feel it should repent of its failings, apologising for misleading its members in the past, encouraging them in turn to mislead others in their missionary and teaching assignments. We would like to see the church taking steps to educate its members and prospective members fully in accordance with the historical record. We would also like to see full openness and accountability in terms of financial accounting and LDS archival holdings. We would like it to provide sensitive counselling and care for those who lose their faith when they discover the uncomfortable realities. There should be no more labelling of such members as “faithless”, “dissidents” or “apostates” – as though there was something wrong with people having a desire to seek out the truth. Possibly the church leaders could work in combination with those of us who have already trodden this difficult path, so that rehabilitation into the wider world of belief choices would become smoother and less traumatic for spiritual victims of the system.
We are also anxious to see the church offer assurances about the position with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of members and former members who now feel, as we do, that our tithing and other offerings were obtained by the church under false pretenses. For every pound paid to the church by LDS members in the UK who, (following leadership counsel), have availed themselves of Deeds of Covenant and Gift Aid, £0.20 has been added by the British Taxpayer to the church’s bank accounts. The sum paid out by HMRC in this connection must now amount to tens of millions of pounds. It is understood that in most cases the resulting tax rebates made to individuals, were handed over to the church at its request. We seek an assurance from the church therefore, that in the event that at some future time these payments made by HMRC will be deemed to have been fraudulently obtained, the LDS church will offer immunity to those individuals, and ensure that such sums as were rebated will be returned with the due interest to HMRC.
Finally we hope one day to see a more compassionate church, in which those of us who still retain through habit something of a Mormon identity, may find acceptance within the LDS community, no matter what our perceived deficiencies or peculiarities or orientations might be, being valued simply because we place a high value on objective truth.
7th February 2014
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