Monday, September 24, 2012

Tommy and Joe

Here's a thing that bothers me about a lot of ex-Mormons. I don't have a problem with talking about crappy church policies and practices, ways that you were hurt by Mormon beliefs, or things that you think are wrong with the system. I don't have a problem with anger, because the kind of hurt a lot of Mormons experience at the hands of the church is something to be angry about. Expressing that anger is often a part of the healing process, and that's an important thing to do.

What I hate is when people talk about "old Tommy Monson" or "old Joe Smith," because there is absolutely nothing behind that but contempt and intentional disrespect. In Joseph Smith's case, it seems like a pretty deliberate reference to the way the Missouri mobs and anti-Mormons talked about him. In Thomas Monson's case—are you seriously calling an 85 year old man Tommy? He doesn't go by Tommy, and you don't know him personally. And since you know that faithful Mormons revere him so much that they feel disrespectful even taking out his middle initial, your use of that nickname seems even more vulgar by comparison.

It's just not necessary, okay? I understand the bitterness, hurt, and anger you might be feeling toward the church. I really do. But this kind of talk doesn't help anyone. A lot of ex- and unorthodox Mormons are working really, really hard to build bridges between themselves and the mainstream church. A lot of people are working really hard to bring about change that will make the church a more healthy place to be, and get people to understand that you don't have to fit the Perfect Mormon Mold to be a good person. I'm not one of those people, but I'm friends with them, and I respect them so much for what they're doing. You and I don't have to participate. But I think the decent thing to do is at least try to avoid making their job harder.


  1. This very thing is why I have such a hard time talking to people about the church. I get very polarized responses: very self righteous and the Church is the be all end all or a total disregard for my belief at all. I really believe that even if you disagree with a particular religion or a facet of a particular religion as the case may be, reverence for another person's beliefs are always in order.

  2. Totally agreed, Blythe. It's the same with politics; people just don't see the need to be respectful to those who don't believe the same way they do. I can understand having that inclination, because it's so very easy to lash out at people who represent—to us—something that hurt us, or something we believe is wrong. But the thing we have to remember is that those people are still people, and they themselves are not the thing we hate. They deserve the same respect we do. It's not okay to intentionally denigrate things they hold sacred just because we disagree with them.

  3. A little respect does go a long way. I will admit to feeling very bitter and acting bitterly when I first went through my faith crisis. Now I hold my head in shame for how I acted; it was wrong and disrespectful. I think that taking the high road (i.e. not mocking other people's beliefs) is absolutely necessary to create a more thoughtful environment inside and outside the earth.