Examples of Extreme Pressure to Conform in Mormonism
If you would like more interactive discussion, then please see our Facebook Discussion page.
"[Lavina Fielding] Anderson was never informed exactly what her 1993 ‘apostasy’ consisted of. But everyone knows that she is being punished for a delivering a paper at the 1992 Sunstone Symposium, and publishing a version of it in Dialogue in 1993 that compiled data on more than one hundred examples of church repression against intellectuals. After the article came out, church members sent her information on another hundred cases. Rather than being removed for heresy, in other words, Anderson is suffering church discipline because she conveyed information on church discipline. Her most incendiary accusation was that headquarters operates a systematic clipping service to monitor individual Saints, carefully filing their letters to the editor, other writings, quotes in the media, and public activities. ‘We must protest, expose, and work against an internal espionage system that creates and maintains secret files on members of the church,’ she has declared.
The First Presidency later admitted that it had established the Strengthening Church Members Committee, led by two apostles, which ‘serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world.’ The Presidency cited precedent in Joseph Smith’s 1839 scriptural command that Saints document ‘abuses’ against them and collect the ‘libelous publications that are afloat’ (D&C 123). A spokesman said that Salt Lake officialdom merely supplies the data and that local church officials are responsible for any resulting actions taken against members.
No other sizable religion in America monitors its own followers in this way. The files are only one aspect of a meticulous system of internal discipline through which contemporary Mormonism operates more like a small cult than a major denomination. …But other denominations usually remove those who are found guilty from their jobs without expelling them from the church altogether. The LDS Church, however, is unusual in penalizing members for merely criticizing officialdom or for publishing truthful—if uncomfortable—information. Also, mainstream churches openly state the charges that are at issue (and Protestants often conduct public tribunals), while Mormon officials shroud their procedures with secrecy. The Mormon Church prosecutes many more of its members than do these other religious groups, which tend to focus discipline on clergy in important positions such as theology professorships. Such discipline of rank-and–file members in other churches is virtually unknown" (Ostling, Mormon America, 353-5).
In addition, it’s OK for Mormons to really question God’s existence, but no temple recommend is given if they can’t keep the word of wisdom. Average Mormons can’t go to the temple unless they lie to their bishop. But most Mormons don't care to work on exaltation in this life. I have a good LDS friend of mine who married an atheist. This atheist is still considered "Mormon." He never took his name off the membership roles. Now if Mormons were to start publicly criticizing the LDS Church and actively set out to remove their names from the roles, then of course there would be pressure applied to them. The Church Headquarters told my wife, for example, that there are "eternal consequences" at stake when she requested her name to be removed from their records. The LDS Church doesn’t really care about its inactive members except to use them as a "faith-promoting numbers" on their membership roles.
R. M. Sivulka
The Mormon Alliance
[The following comes from Pastor Chip Thompson in Ephraim, Utah. This event happened on June 13, 2008 at the Manti Mormon Miracle Pageant.]
PASTOR TERRY, GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION
Something else very interesting happened last night. Before reading this, consider the actions and comments of the Lord's disciples in Acts chapter 4 as they were told to quit teaching in the name of Jesus. Following their example, we are also attempting to stand fast and boldly proclaim the truths of God's word - "For we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard."
My brother Terry brought a mission team from his church in Crawfordsville, IN. Last night he went onto the pageant grounds and sat down in front of three elderly LDS people. He turned around and started visiting with them. Then, just as he was turning the conversation toward religion he heard a voice behind him saying, "I am going to have to ask you to leave the temple grounds." Terry turned, thinking surely the guard was talking to somebody else only to discover that he was being asked to leave. He looked at the guard in disbelief and asked, "Me???"
The guard said, "Yes, please remove yourself from the temple grounds immediately." All Terry could think to say was, "Why???" The guard replied, "We don't allow you to preach your doctrines on our grounds." Terry told the guard that he wasn't preaching anything and in fact he was only asking these nice people a question about their church. The elderly people affirmed what Terry had said.
Then the guard looked right at Terry and asked, "Are you Chip Thompson's brother?" This really surprised Terry because to our knowledge none of the Mormons knew he was my brother. Terry said, "As a matter of fact I am." And the guard said, "Then you will have to leave immediately." So Terry said to the people he had been visiting with, "I guess I need to leave, I am sorry, I was really enjoying our conversation."
After hearing Terry's story, we decided that we would go together and talk with the guard because, to my knowledge, I (Chip) had never even been kicked off of the temple grounds. We walked past the security at the gate with no problem and found the guy that had kicked Terry out. After introducing myself to him I asked him why the Christian pageant guests were being removed from the grounds.
He said, "Because we don't allow you to proselytize our people."
I asked him, "Do you realize that the only thing we talk about is the Bible and at times the Book of Mormon - these are both scriptures of the LDS church, why would you not want people to discuss your scriptures at the temple?"
He said, "I am not going to argue with you, I am asking you to stay off the temple grounds."
So I said, "Do you realize that what you are doing is exactly what the temple guards in Jesus Christ's day tried to do? They tried to stop the Lord's disciples from studying the scriptures with the people on the temple grounds."
This really lit his fuse and he said, "If you don't leave the temple grounds immediately, I am going to have you arrested."
So I said, "That's exactly what I am talking about, what you are doing is exactly what the temple guards did in Jesus day, they threatened to arrest the disciples too."
At this point, he radioed for the sheriff and said to me, "This is our turf and we will decide who is allowed to study the scriptures on our grounds."
I said, "Don't you see, what you are saying is exactly what the Pharisees said to the disciples. They wouldn't let the disciples teach at the temple either."
The temple guard said, "You need to leave now. If I ever see you on temple grounds again, I will have you arrested immediately."
So, I said, "We are leaving and we won't try to come onto the grounds here again, but I want you to think about the fact that what you are doing is as wrong today as it was in Jesus day." And, we left.
Not long after this the Sheriff found Terry and myself on the street and (by God's design) one of his deputies was a very close LDS friend of mine. Dave (my friend) asked me, "Were you causing a disturbance on the temple grounds a few minutes ago?"
I said, "Well, I wouldn't exactly call it a disturbance, but yes, we were talking to the temple guard who kicked my brother, Terry, off the temple grounds a few minutes ago."
After Terry explained what had happened to him, I said, "Dave, you have known me for many years. Have you ever known me to be unreasonable? Have I ever defaced property or been any kind of a threat to anyone?"
Dave admitted that I hadn't. So, I basically explained the issues that I had discussed with the temple guard and how the actions of the Mormon church were identical to the actions of the temple guards in Jesus day. To my surprise, he agreed with me and said, "I don't agree with the way the LDS church treats the Christians. We support and protect you on the streets but, unfortunately, we can't protect you if you are on LDS property, so please stay on the streets." I assured him that we were not trying to cause problems and that we would try to stay out of trouble.
The real problem for the LDS church is that the doctrines taught in their scriptures (one of which is the Holy Bible) totally disagree with official LDS doctrine. So, if they allow us to study their scriptures with the LDS people, their people will leave their church and become Christians. They know this, so, they attempt to keep us away from their people in any way that they can.
Christian Evangelists Banned from Using the Bathrooms at Mormon Public Event
"In 2012, in the BBC documentary The Mormon Candidate, Elder Holland of the twelve apostles admitted on camera that the Mormon Church has a strengthening-church-members committee. That committee is alleged to hire former CIA and FBI agents to defend the church against 'any insideious influence.' ...I feared retribution.
Even if the Mormon Church didn't target us in a negative way, their persistent efforts to reach us spooked and annoyed us. My Mormon visiting teachers, the pair of women assigned to watch over me from theclosest LDS ward building, located me at Dad's house and would sneak behind the gate into the closed community to leave notes at his door when I was at work. 'Welcome! Church is at...' Someone on campus with the same last name as one of the visiting teachers dropped by to welcome me and to tell me he'd read my vitae and that we had much in common. Although we had never shown up at a Mormon Church since moving to Florida, the local stake clerk (scurrying serf) was emailing me regularly through my BYU email, which was active for another several months. I was relieved when the email address expired.
I did not yet understand that one of the churche's strongholds, from which I was still trying to extricate myself, was control through fear. I dreaded wearing the label of Mormon Church apostate. This fear had been bread into me over thirty years. I feared the shunning of church members who surely would not be as friendly if they knew what I believed.
...Although the letters had requested that the church remove our names without contacting us except for a letter confirming the removal, on June 11, 2008, a Florida bishop whose church was near my father's house called to talk about our resignation. ...In early September of 2008, we received an official letter from the LDS Church, dated August 11, 2008, informing us that our names were being (not had been) removed from the church rolls.
Inappropriately, the LDS Church continued to invite us to ward activities via mail for months afterward. The church had our new address from our resignation letters, so now another bishop closer to our home had family records" (Lynn K. Wilder, Unveiling Grace, 292-3 and 296-7).