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A Heretic’s Question


Someone I consider a pretty good thinker posted this response to people who don’t understand why he’s critical of his religion, what it is that causes him to question the status quo:

People always look for one instance that they can blame for my bitterness…. I’m hurt when people do this because they assume my reasoning is not based on logic but that I [just] haven’t devoted enough time to finding answers.

I have confidence in what I write because I have spent time reading and thinking. Where is your confidence? Why do you fear people will read what I write and believe me?

This is why I am bitter. LDS people don’t question. They won’t read (and believe) anything by anyone who isn’t LDS. They’re guilted into thinking they could never find happiness outside of the religion. But their religion creates the sins that it frees them from.

Here’s my response:

A reticence to face honest questions is not a uniquely Mormon issue. Institutions create cultural safety barriers, and most people are willing to give up almost anything in exchange for safety (even their souls). For this reason, you will find stilted logic and stunted minds in any and every religious institution.

Look at the Puritans who fled religious persecution in England only to create an American state in which more people were persecuted more harshly for their beliefs (and questions) than had ever been the case in England. Look at Richard Wright’s experience within Seventh Day Adventism (as described in Black Boy). Look at Angelina Grimke’s experience with Quakerism (criticized for speaking to mixed-gender audiences and for sitting with African-Americans during Sunday-morning services; kicked out for her marriage to an abolitionist from another denomination). She made people uncomfortable, questioned the tenets of a do-nothing faith on which their safety was built.

In fact, look at fundamentalism wherever it exists. Fundamentalist Christians are no different from fundamentalist Jews, and fundamentalist Jews are no different from fundamentalist Muslims. They’re all legalists. To question their rules is to admit that you don’t belong, and the only way fundamentalists can cope with your questions is to soothe themselves with the notion that you must be in the wrong. (Whether traitor or lunatic, it all amounts to the same thing.)

To question their rules is to admit that you don’t belong

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