Soylent Green is Mormon

“Ex-Mormons are always so bitter and angry”

I think we need to start with a fundamental question. If the Book of Mormon is TRUE, what is the appropriate response? If the Book of Mormon is FALSE, what is the appropriate response?

I don’t necessarily always agree with the tone and the spite of some that leave the LDS church, I think I understand where they are coming from. Just imagine yourself in their position. They’ve devoted their entire lives to the teachings of something that they’ve recently discovered is an absolute fraud, AND they think they can prove it. How would you react if you were in their position?

As you know, joining the LDS church is a costly thing. Ex-Mormons have paid dearly with their lives. Even after they leave it is still costing them as they wrestle with the loss of family members and friendships and battle with their own behaviors steeped in a life devoted to a worldview they know longer hold to. It would be painful. It makes sense to want to fight against something that is inflicting pain upon you. It makes sense to want to show your friends and family what you think is true (everyone does this in and outside of the church).

If I were in their position; yelling “SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!” is about the only reaction that I think would make sense for awhile.

I really think Soylent Green is a good analogy to how many former Mormons feel. Imagine what it would sound like to Charleton Heston if after discovering the truth he was told: “You know I really like soylent green. It works for me. Why do you have to be so negative?”

And his response would be: “But don’t you get it. . .SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!

So maybe you look at their evidence. Maybe it’s all lies, maybe they’ve been deceived, maybe you like the taste so much you wonder why we didn’t start eating soylent green earlier despite its key ingredient. Whatever your reaction, you should have some notion as to why they act the way they do.

People who walk away from a religion with only a shrug are people who never loved their faith. If they didn’t care one way or the other about it they were taught to view their faith as inconsequential. Ex-Mormons may bother, annoy or even anger you but at least see that they agree with you that believing or not believing in the LDS church matters a lot.


16 thoughts on “Soylent Green is Mormon

  1. I don’t really think that Mormonism is in quite the same moral category as cannibalism. Fundamentalism, maybe 🙂

  2. I think a better analogy is divorce.

    In both cases, you’ve got this thing that you committed an awful lot of emotional and financial investment towards, to say nothing of all those years you spent, many of them possibly wasted on a suboptimal relationship.

    And just like in divorce, it takes all kinds, but can often get VERY ugly.

    Some people manage to part amicably. Others devote their entire lives to destroying their former spouse, the beloved who failed them so deeply.

    And just like when you are dealing with an angry divorcee ranting about her “sleazebag ex-husband” it behooves one to neither agree nor disagree with her, but withhold judgment. Angry divorcees are almost never a reliable source for facts on the relationship, as any marriage counselor or divorce attorney could easily tell you. Too often, they approach you as an opportunity to “triangulate” against their sworn enemy in a bid for self-validation.

    Likewise, extremely angry ex-Mormons can be a very bad source for facts about the Mormon church. I’ve seen

    What a lot of bitterness and one-sided venom!

    Now, keep in mind, that just because a person had a divorce does not disqualify them as a valid source of information about their ex. But you do have to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when dealing with them.

  3. Seth, I like your analogy, but I think Tim’s makes for a much catchier title.

    Tim, I agree with your point. But just as there needs to be some resistance to the over-zealous Mormon (or any other Christian, for that matter) trying to force his religion on others, there also needs to be resistance to the too-vocal anti-Mormon. My biggest concern is for the anti-Mormon who joins another Christian church, says that he accepts Jesus, but then treats Mormons uncharitably. There’s just no basis for that.

  4. That’s a really healthy approach, Seth. I agree- I see a lot of bitter ex-Mormons who really are just bitter, no, livid. And they’ll rant and rave against the Church, even when the accusations they are leveling are extremely subjective, flimsy, and/or clearly one-sided.

    I’m not getting into motives and why they’re like that; I’m just saying they’re like that.

    But at the same time, I’ve been accused of being a bitter, angry (even hateful!) ex-Mormon, and I don’t think I am. I’ve defended the church against ridiculous accusations on this very blog, even (not by the author, but by other commentors).

    Do i have negative things to say about the church? Hell yes; I have plenty- otherwise I wouldn’t have left! But I have enough honest-to-goodness problems with Mormonism that i don’t have to go making up imaginary ones, or twisting non-problems into problems in order to prove a point. It doesn’t have to be bad through and through to be fraudulent and even to be harmful.

    Anyway, my point is that the “bitter ex-Mormon” stereotype is so powerful, and examples of them do exist, that I find myself guilty until proven innocent, and the only way to prove myself innocent (i.e. not a ridiculous hater) is to have no objections to the Church or its doctrines. Which is of course problematic because, well, I left because i have major problems with it.

    i don’t know if I’m really going anywhere with this. Mostly I’m just generally backing up Seth’s comment.

    Not all ex-Mormons are bitter and venomous monsters. And it’s not fair to paint them all as hateful caricatures so you can conveniently ignore their often very real objections and concerns.

  5. Oh, believe me, I do understand completely why some people who leave the LDS church are angry. I have a vivid memory from when I left the RLDS church in 1986. My Dad’s best friend, a highly respected Elder, came to our home to talk to me. He begged me to reconsider. He was actually very sincere and kind in his attitude towards me. It is burned into my memory. But, I would have none of it. I was angry, I was very rude to him, and I still remember the sound of his tires squealing in the road outside of our house as he drove away. My parents were furious with me. I just knew I was right though. I had found the truth! I thought I knew it all.

    Tim, I want to address your “fundamental question” you asked above. I have a real problem and disagreement with those who say that the Book of Mormon is either all TRUE or all FALSE. At this point in my life, I view the Book of Mormon as a book of very good social commentary. In my opinion, there is much truth in the Book of Mormon. To quote from 2 Nephi 28, verse 8:
    “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God–he will justify in committing a little sin: yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the Kingdom of God.”
    The Book of Mormon is full of gems like this, very cogent insights into 19th, 20th, and 21st century Christianity. After spending over twenty years in Evangelical and some mainline churches, I have seen the above attitude so many times. As a new Christian, the issue of fornication and the Evangelical (and mainline) attitude toward it is but one very frustrating example.
    I agreed with LDS teaching that unchastity is next to murder in seriousness. In my heart, to commit unchastity would have been to openly mock God and to show utter comtempt for Him. I never could understand why most all the Evangelical men who were interested in dating me did not feel that fornication was a very bad sin at all. And the ones who did feel it was wrong–they had absolutely no interest in asking me out. So, I was stuck for many years, until I finally met a mainline Christian who, while we were dating, was willing to abide by the rules which I set down. We waited until our wedding night. In Debbie Maken’s book, “Getting Serious about Getting Married,” the statistics she quotes maintain that anywhere from 40% to 80% of Evangelical Christians have thrown away their virginity before they get married. Speaking as someone who was raised to think as a devout RLDS, this is a huge abomination before the Lord, and is one reason why I am taking my Bible and my belief in Jesus, and I am getting as far away from the Evangelicals as I possibly can. I ask the question, if fornication is not a bad sin, just what DO you Evangelicals consider a bad sin to be? To me, my fellow Christian singles sounded exactly like Laman and Lemuel, whining about what a hard thing the Lord had asked them to do. Over and over again, I heard things like, “Nobody is a virgin when they get married anymore. Who can live without sex into their 20’s?” In my mind, I had entered into a covenant with the Lord that day, when, as an 8 year old child, I was baptized into the RLDS church. My views about salvation may have changed significantly when I became an Evangelical Christian, but I considered the covenant I had made that day to love and serve Jesus as still valid and in force. In my heart, fornication was (and is) an awful thing to do to someone I had vowed that I would love.
    In my opinion, Joseph Smith was a highly intelligent, and very thoughtful man, very observant. I want to believe that he was sincere, that he was trying to do good, but, I do not believe that he was a prophet of God, and I do not believe he was acting at God’s behest when he wrote the Book of Mormon. However, neither do I believe that he was or is the evil, wicked person that the anti-Mormon Evangelicals make him out to be. When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour all those years ago, Joseph Smith just kind of faded into the background. All of a sudden, he just wasn’t so important anymore. Jesus became the most important person/God to me. I have no answer for why Joseph Smith did what he did, but I am content to just leave it at that. I accept that it is just one of those things that I will not have an answer for this side of eternity.
    I don’t really have to reflect very hard or pray very much in order to have good, positive feelings about the Book of Mormon. Who wouldn’t have positive feelings about a book that so accurately depicts the hypocrisy which can occur in religion, a book where good is good and evil is evil, and the bad guys very often get what they deserve? But, in spite of all these good qualities, I do NOT believe the Book of Mormon to be God-Breathed Holy Scripture.
    On Christmas Eve, 2002, my father was in a car accident and suffered a stroke. I sat with him in the ER, terrified I would lose him. I called and called the Protestant church my husband and I attended–no answer. Finally, when I did get someone, they told me they could get a Stephen minister out to talk to me in two weeks. So, I called my Dad’s best friend, the same man I had rebuffed all those years before. The first words out of his mouth when I told him what had happened were, “Would you like us to give him the sacrament of Laying on of Hands?” My response was, “There is snow and ice on the roads! I don’t want you to get hurt!” To which he replied, “Don’t you worry! I’ll get Brother Bill and we’ll be there as soon as we can.” On Christmas Eve, treacherous roads notwithstanding, they made it to Dad’s bedside in 45 minutes. As we gathered around Dad and prayed, I felt so deeply ashamed of the way I had treated him all those years ago.
    So, my advice to all who have left the LDS church and are angry is: Be very careful how you treat your friends and family during this time-be very careful of what you say. For you do not know what the future holds, and you may one day deeply regret the things you now say in anger. I know I do.

    May God add his blessing to the intent of these words.

  6. Nice story Lisa. Thanks.

    Kullervo, I’m sure you realize I wasn’t directing anything negative your direction. I’ve read your comments enough to tentatively put you in with the “amicable divorcees” (admittedly, I don’t really know your history).

    I guess the problem is that the really angry ex-Mormons tend to make such an impression that it kind of steals the spotlight from more reasonable folk.

  7. Oddly enough… I am on the post-Mormon path, and watched Soylent Green for the first time just last night. Although I can’t watch a Heston movie without half expecting to hear, “get your hands off of me you damn dirty ape,” it was a great show.

    While the similarity did not strike me at all while enjoying this unique doomsday flick… I definitely see the relationship and can understand, both personally and from a general point of view, how one might feel when finding out something they once trusted is in fact something completely undesirable.

    When I go to bible study tomorrow night, I will have to declare SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!! just because. I’m going to have to go buy the DVD now, it’s taken on new meaning.

    Thanks Tim.

  8. “I ask the question, if fornication is not a bad sin, just what DO you Evangelicals consider a bad sin to be?”

    This is always one of my issues with religious zealousness in any denomination–Mormon, Baptist, Catholic, etc.–is the focus on degrees of sin. Admittedly, it is very impressive that Mormons, as a whole, have a sense of commitment to their values that is on a level completely different than practically any other denomination. When they say they’re not going to have sex before marriage, they don’t; when they say they’re going to remain married for good and that divorce truly isn’t an option, they mean it; when they say that family is their absolute priority, they show it (Family Home Evening, etc). Sure, we Evangelical Christians espouse these same virtues and ideals, but as Lisa said, 40%-80% of ECs are having pre-marital sex and getting divorced left and right. So where are things going wrong?

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that–other than to say that we’re all sinners and we all screw up along the way. Why do Mormons *tend* to not fall prey to some of these problems? I don’t know the answer to that either. What I do know is that as an EC I believe that my salvation is not tied to my acts or deeds. That is, nothing I do could ever possibly be good or holy enough to deserve salvation; likewise, fortunately for me, my screw-ups also don’t take my salvation away. That’s the whole point of Grace and is probably one of the cornerstone beliefs of ECs that sets us apart from other belief systems and denominations. Nothing we can do can earn salvation and nothing we can do will make us lose it. It’s the whole “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Yes, people LOVE to take issue with this belief, citing the example of the person who says he/she is a “born again” Christian and then spends the rest of his/her life in horrible sin, denying Christ, and not living a life that would be considered “Christian” to others. My only answer to that is that none of us can ever truly know a man’s heart–only God and that individual know whether or not that person’s profession of faith and statement of salvation was genuine. Yes, if one has accepted Christ, one would assume that they would bare fruit, try to live a Christ-like life, and would exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. But it is not our place–ever–to judge another man’s salvation. We cannot–that is not our job or privilege.

    So going back to my whole point of this posting . . . ECs believe that we have been “saved by Grace through faith, and this is not of your own doing, but is a gift of God–not by works, so that no man can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). So my works have nothing to do with my actual salvation; therefore, neither that which I do or don’t do affect my salvation. Does that mean that I go on blatantly sinning because I know I’m covered by Grace? Of course not. (Rom. 6: 1-9) I am commanded to try to live as holy and blameless a life as possible, knowing full well that I will always come up short. And, of course, that’s where Jesus steps in.

    Only man has created a hierarchy of sin–pre-marital sex is worse than running a stop sign; murder is worse than telling lies; rape is worse than treating my spouse disrespectfully. But it is clear in the Bible that to God a sin is a sin is a sin–they ALL separate us from Him (Isaiah 59: 1-2). We all deserve death (that is, we don’t deserve salvation)–Rom. 6:23–but by God’s Grace, and our acceptance of Christ and belief that because of his death on the cross, I can have eternal life in Heaven.

    So to answer you, Lisa (in a VERY long way), EVERY sin is a bad sin. Yeah, pre-marital sex is wrong, and so is active homosexuality, and so is disrespecting my parents, and over-spending, and over-eating . . .and, well, you get the point. What I always tell people is that there is no “degree” to my sins; however, the consequences to my sins will vary greatly. If I run a stop sign, I may not get caught at all and nobody knows that I did it except God and me . . . or maybe I do get stopped and get a traffic ticket; BUT, if I have pre-marital sex, I could get pregnant, contract a STD, etc. Clearly there are significantly greater consequences to my sexual activity as opposed to the traffic violation.

    We will all be held accountable one day for our actions on earth. By God’s grace, I will try to live as holy and blameless a life as possible, but I am thankful that my eternal life in heaven is not dependent upon what I do or don’t do on this earth.

  9. Aidan, nowhere in my post did I ever say that I thought salvation was by works. And I am not judging anyone’s salvation–you are correct–that is for God to decide! But, I have a choice what kind of people I choose to associate with, and I have chosen never again to worship with Evangelicals, partly because of the abysmal fornication rate among Christian singles, but also for other reasons. I really do not agree with this “All sins are equal” tactic that so many Evangelicals use. In my opinion, that is EXACTLY why there is a 40%-80% fornication rate among single Christians. (according to some stats) If getting an STD is all we need to fear if we commit fornication-there are antibiotics for that! Becoming pregnant? Many teenage girls who have never experienced true love and acceptance from their parents deliberately get pregnant because they want to be “loved.” To me, this “All sins are equal” business is just something Evangelicals use to try to shut people up–people who are asking questions or criticizing observed bad behavior. Until Evangelicals begin to view fornication as a SIN and repent, and take responsibility for their actions–I believe there will be no change in their fornication rate–or their divorce rate, because in my opinion, premarital sex contributes to problems in marriage. Of course, one always hopes and prays that all who are committing these sins would have a change of heart and repent.
    I don’t think you really paid any attention to anything I was trying to say in my post, you just saw the “RLDS” and assumed I still believed in salvation by works. I said in my post that I felt that fornication was a horrible thing to do to someone whom I professed to love–for me, it would have been a horrible betrayal of my Lord Jesus Christ. For someone to compare that to running a traffic light is, to me, very offensive. Try to put yourself in my shoes as a new Christian, why should I be less of a person just because I’ve “accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior?” as you put it? Why should I lower my standards that I’ve had all my life just to suit the Christians I now find myself surrounded by? Now that I’m a born again Christian, someone who is supposed to have put on the mind and heart of Christ, fornication is LESS of a sin than it was before? This all goes back to what I told Tim in my very first post– I’m supposed to live my entire life after conversion in the company of other Evangelical Christians. And you guys sure didn’t make it very easy.

  10. I guess this is a major reason why Mormons have a problem with the Evangelical notion of “being saved.”

    It really does seem like carte blanch for “doing whatever I feel like.” No matter what kind of garbage you are pulling on your fellow human beings, no matter what kind of damage you are doing to your own spiritual life – “Jesus still loves me” so everything is hunky-dory, right?

    Now, I realize that any evangelical preacher worth his salt is going to have a ready answer for this – namely that true belief in Christ and his Atonement is going to result in correct behavior. The motivation of love we have for Christ is going to result in us doing our utmost to live up to his expectations.

    That’s nice and all. I mean, I would certainly think this “fruits of true conversion to Christ” concept is quite doctrinal within the context of the Bible, AND within the context of the Book of Mormon. And I don’t think anyone disputes that love is a much purer and stronger motive than fear ultimately.

    BUT… nice doctrine and nice practice are not always the same thing, are they?

    The truth is, whatever doctrinal distinctions evangelical ministers are trying to impress upon their congregations, the message isn’t necessarily getting through. The minister may give a nice half hour sermon explaining the true nature of the Atonement and all. But then her parishoners get up and leave the building thinking:

    “Oh what a relief! Christ will forgive my gambling habit! He knows I’m too weak to change my ways and has provided a way for me to be saved anyway. I’m so glad I know this! I was really beating myself up trying to change, and it was SOO hard! Now I don’t have to fight that fight anymore. Off to Vegas I go!”

    Maybe they don’t say that explicitly, but you get the idea. These fine doctrinal distinctions just don’t seem to always be making much of an impression on the lay membership.

    And I bet you that this is EXACTLY what a lot of LDS leadership has been thinking about when they preach the Atonement. If we start emphasizing the ‘free grace’ part of the Gospel too much, we’ll have the same problem the protestants are bedeviled with: congregations who are complacent about Gospel living and unconcerned that they are living in open, unconcerned rebellion against God’s will.

    This is just going to be the key point of contention between the Mormon and Protestant traditions I think.

    For Protestants, “orthodoxy” – correct belief – is preeminent. For Mormons “orthopraxy” – correct practice – is the primary concern. For a Mormon, correct belief is a secondary concern to righteous living. If a particular doctrine is interfering with that righteous living, then, as a purely practical matter, it can be deemphasized in favor of other doctrines that will yield better results.

    I think it’s entirely fair to say that a Mormon really doesn’t care what your theology is if your life stinks. I’d take a morally admirable Buddhist over a theologically correct, but morally depraved, Protestant any day.

    I think Lisa’s account shows that when you’ve been “raised a Mormon” these sensibilities never really leave you. It’s a very hard-nosed and practical religion. And it has very little tolerance for what it sees as theological BS-ing.

  11. This is all really off the point of this post. It’s interesting but it will be lost here. Hold off on discussion on this for a little bit. I promise to create a new post based on it.

    My short answer though, I’m just as disgusted by those who claim to be saved but don’t live rigtheously as you are. Jack Mormons, Cafeteria Catholics and Back-row Baptists are all people of the same stripe.

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