Last fall as my husband and I were meandering through Vermont with my very cute fun 18 yr. old True Blue Mormon (TBM) daughter I mentioned that we'd stop at the Joseph Smith birthplace in Sharon, Vermont so she could see something that was on her list as well as all the stuff on our bucket lists on our New England vacation. I was pretty cool with it till we got off the exit and saw a little church. It wasn't even an LDS church, but may have been the Methodist church Joseph Smith's mother went to. Then we went up this absolutely gorgeous hill past an absolutely gorgeous pond and trees and farms to the turnoff. Instantly I was overcome with anxiety and the panic attack washed up like a huge wave.

We passed a very tiny LDS chapel an up a tree lined asphalt lane and could hear "Praise to the Man" playing on speakers in the nearby forest. The monument is a typical tall granite phallic symbol as most monuments are and there was the traditional LDS visitors center with pretty grounds and pretty trees and pretty sidewalks and pretty decorations and nice placid looking missionaries walking around. There were a few tourists, excitedly jumping from their cars or a bus to go get a picture of the phallic symbol where their prophet first graced the earth.

I tried to be polite but as we walked toward it I knew it would be seconds before I was overcome with the bitter frustration that has welled up for all these years. Some of the missionaries were eyeing us as they are conditioned to do and I could tell that if we weren't careful we'd get some spiel and I was in no mood to take it kindly. The music was supposed to emit an aura of holiness and spiritual confirmation but it was just invasive and contrived. I felt like the whole place was one super frosted highly decorated sugar covered cyanide pill and was being crammed down my throat at the end of a pitch fork by smiling frumpily dressed Post-Amish type cult soldiers, hell bent on making sure everyone got their recommended daily dose whether they wanted it or not.

My daughter had veered off to have her own experience and BABB and I walked the perimeter of the loop and the tears just suddenly started flowing and bursting and I couldn't stop crying. The rage and frustration of the past 47 years of the LDS influence in my life and extortion of my family, my integrity, my creativity and heart just came over me. I was nearly on my knees with the pain I suddenly felt at the church that has drained so much from my life. The lies, the massive wall of lies and more lies and lies to cover lies and lying leaders, lying prophets, lying culture, lying community just came on like a freight train. BABB took me back to the car and I just sobbed for 15 minutes. I really keep thinking I'm over all this and then one little thing can bring it right back.

I know that suggesting that the LDS church is like a Rapist is quite a dramatic comparison and I certainly don't mean to minimize the experience of those that have experienced such a horrific theft of something so precious, but standing there in the place where it all started felt like I was facing the person who initiated all the crimes that have been done to me and many of you who have experienced similar pain at the hands of the LDS church and culture.

I felt so much rage that Joseph Smith had even been born, that he had used the gifts he'd been given to swindle, cheat, lie, and manipulate so many and we are the product of all those lies. I felt so angry, violated, so cheated of the things I can never have with my own family because of how the church and culture have conditioned them to shun and deny any who do not believe as they do. I felt angry on behalf of my children and grandchildren who will continue to feel and learn of the lies, the corruption, the frustrating numbing lifestyle and culture that they belong to. I felt loss at the things I can never have with them because of the barriers the church enforces between us. I felt sadness at the wonder they may never experience because they're held hostage by these backward beliefs.

The sugary sappiness of the whole place, and any of the LDS church history or temple sights offends me. It's all set up to entice people in like flies to a spider web. They have no idea the dark twisted things that exist inside but the prettiness of it all and the feigned placid niceness of the missionaries makes it seem like such a nice pretty pill to swallow.

Toward the end of the trip we stopped in at BABB's ancestral home near Albany. It's a beautiful old 1790s home on about 18 acres of rolling farmland and tree covered hills with a really incredible babbling stream below that has steps and schist’s of dark flinty shale that keep the water cascading gently and pooling into beautiful little ponds. On the property is a perfectly symmetrical mound that the family always considered a possible Indian burial mound but it's never been excavated. When BABB was a kid it only had grass on it but in the decades since it's grown up with trees and brush. Anyway, my daughter and I climbed to the top of the mound and determined our Indian names will be "Shops with a Fist" and "Hey, STOP THE CAR!! I JUST SAW ANOTHER CUTE OLD FARMHOUSE!!!-ahauntas".

I wanted so much to delve into the archaeological discussions regarding mound building but I certainly didn't want it to delve into the BOM legends so I just veered the conversation off into other stuff. What reams my hide sometimes is that the very easily discredited BOM has stolen some rich and varied Native American Histories and wrapped their own arrogant manifest destiny white European Christian bend into the ancient history. To have a conversation with any TBM about Native culture seems to only feed their own bias about how the "Lamanites" got here and traversed the continents. I didn't want to get into an argument with my daughter so I felt sequestered and frustrated that I'm compelled to help feed the illusion and lies with my heavily purchased silence.

As we've traveled through several New England states I can say with absolute confidence that the most ratty run down nasty rusted rat filled abandoned farm house is far more enticing to me than the pristine heated bathrooms of the LDS "History" sites. A dump is honest, it is real, it does not deny it's toxic sludge or rotted stink. It does not draw you in with false promises of glorified Heavenly Reward and then proceed to suck every breath of life from you. A slum is a slum and allows you to accept it on face value. I feel rage at the false facade that I've seen in a thousand dark ways with the LDS experience.

Views: 107

Comment by MikeUtah on April 17, 2010 at 10:09am
You have a way with words Dana! I visited the birth place of Joseph Smith at the age of 8 or 9 during a family vacation trek, driving across the whole of America to see all of the historical sites of Morgdumb. As a kid, few, if any, of these sites had any meaning to me. I am sure that I would have a reaction more similar to yours if I were to visit them as a non-believing adult. My oldest sister is already planning a trip to Nauvoo in 2011 with her kids and any family that want to tag along. No thanks!
Comment by Dana K. Dahl on April 17, 2010 at 10:18am
Mike, if you do bother with the Nauvoo trip, try to schedule it for the fall. I went in Oct. one year and it was really decked out with decorations and was sort of fun. They dress that place up like Santa's Village for the holidays but whatever you do, don't let them trap you in the tour of homes in the old village. You can read about that sort of experience here: http://insanadfindingthepony.blogspot.com/2010/04/moonie-mormon-mis...

I've been to Nauvoo, Palmyra, and of course all the Utah sites and I have yet to come away not feeling like I've just been trapped in an Amway meeting. They really put a lot of pressure on folks and close the doors when you enter a bldg. so that you can't escape. My suffocation strangulation censors were really ticking inside those places.
Comment by Dana Dahl on April 25, 2010 at 3:43pm
I agree Kate. When I meet a lil' ol' bishop I see a player or a good guy just trying to do his job. When I meet a Stake President I know he's paid some dues with the good ol boys club and they know he'll keep the secrets. When I meet someone up the ranks from that, I know I'm face to face with a very corrupt lying power monger who knows how the game is played, how to keep big secrets, how to oppress and marginalize those that speak out. I've yet to meet a leader in the top ranks that didn't remind me of the Kenneth Skilling/George Bush or Dick Cheney type of leaders. Dallin Oaks and Jeffery Holland are some of the most devious in my book and they weild enormous power. They have a lot of lies to protect in the LDS church.
Comment by Phoenix on April 27, 2010 at 2:07pm
Actually, "Rapist" may not be such a dramatic comparison. To share something quite personal, I was molested by my immediate Mormon family. The thing is that they are "righteous" so it goes between it never happening, and it not being that big of a deal. They avoided coffee, tea, and swearing because apparently, those "sins" carry more gravity. When I got away from them and moved out of state they were able to use the Mormon network to locate me. A friend who I was living with received a call from a Mormon bishop who was trying to find me. Because I left the church and suffered from depression, I was the "bad" one, while they are seen as "righteous".

So I don't feel that your usage of the word "rapist" is all that extreme.
Comment by Dana K. Dahl on April 29, 2010 at 12:43pm
I'm sorry you've been through such a traumatic experience Phoenix. I have been beaten and verbally abused but never in the sexual realm. I often feel like I can't relate but can empathize with victims of sexual abuse. Emotional abuse and the abuse the church enforces on it's members does strip our mind of the common rights to free thought, rationality, and even common sense. I felt my mind was raped by my years of LDS indoctrination and my value as a woman was severely diminished while I was a Mormon. In that way, I do think rape is an appropriate term. The church takes something very precious and taints it so that even when we get out, we still suffer the shock and effects of having been abused. I hope you are able to find understanding people to help you work through your challenges. These forums helped me a lot. I think sometimes I'm almost done with the process and ready to move on and then some little incident with family or LDS neighbors brings it all back to the surface. I didn't really recover, I just repressed for a while. Maybe that's all I can ever hope to do with all this dark stuff.
Comment by Phoenix on May 1, 2010 at 9:20pm
I think Cultwatch has some good info. I've found it useful, anyway:
Comment by james on May 6, 2010 at 1:58pm
Powerful post. I agree with the 'false facade' that was my reality for so many years and have wondered many times if my experience would have been different, and in what ways, had the church just be up front and truthful in all regards.

I experience rage like you described every time I see a picture of statue of Joseph and Emma, gazing into each others eyes. I wonder if Emma is seething from her grave, and I feel pains for the other wives that too were fooled into marriage, support, sex!, and compliance with the man. I grow more angry as I think of my own 14 and 15 year old daughters, knowing that they would have been prime prey for him had they been born into those unfortunate circumstances in the early 1800's. The facade of Joseph and Emma is a slap in the face to those women and their ill-fated trust.
Comment by Dana K. Dahl on May 6, 2010 at 9:11pm
Thank you James, I suspect I'm just one of many who have some point where they feel a meltdown in regards to the LDS experience. I think it's happened to me more than once but that time was so pungent. One expects a place so naturally beautiful, so pristine and perfect to emit an aura of earthly holiness but instead it felt so poisonous to me. I found myself loathing the beauty because of the massive lie it held.

I believe you're right, Emma must just be rolling in her grave with resentment over what is presented as a happy marriage. Like the really bullshit temple sealings of long dead couples, it's just such an offensive travesty to eternally bind such people when clearly there was a great deal of contention in the marriage. I don't believe in heaven, hell or the LDS sealings but I find the whole process offensive and invasive. My own daughter would have been traded into some Plyg family long ago had the church been able to manipulate things the way they promote in their own scriptures. I find the whole culture so toxic and the lies so grand. It's very hard to respect those that still believe when they make such leaps of integrity to justify such practices and behavior from the founding prophet of the church.
Comment by Phoenix on May 7, 2010 at 12:05am
Speaking of false facades:

Historically, what other "blond-haired blue-eyed only" groups have demonstrated immaculate "moral purity" while suppressing/scapegoating others?

You just have to browse through old photos of the "fine young men and women" of Nazi Germany to see parallels.
Comment by Dana K. Dahl on May 7, 2010 at 8:50am
Yesterday on NPR there was an author being interviewed who spent time in Afghanistan with various groups who were training and recruiting for the Taliban. The interesting thing that he mentioned was the process by which the Taliban strips the individual of identity in order to make them willing to give their own life for the cause. He described the LDS missionary program to a T and then went on to describe how so many in these training camps think nothing of their own family or life on earth because all they are allowed to think about is the great reward in heaven when they finally die. Death is the only reward in this life and so they can sacrifice other human beings, their family, their comfort all for this illusion of glory and comfort. I've heard so many LDS give the same sort of excuse for why they can shun their family member, or give every thought, every dignity, every comfort to the church to use and abuse them at will. "It will all be worked out in the millenium" Even my own mother lives more for her death than the amazing life she has right at her fingertips.


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