WHY I STEER CHRISTIANS AWAY FROM NON-CHRISTIAN EXMORMON BULLETIN BOARDS:

By Fred Anson
fanson@cox.net

I was raised Christian. My brother converted to Mormonism in the late 1960's. He was converted by my Uncle who lives in the Bay Area. And, of course, growing up and living the Southwest United States I've had many, many Mormon friends. I like Mormons and have a lot of respect for them.

However, thanks to good books like James Spencer's Beyond Mormonism, I have come to appreciate that Mormonism is not only a fraud but a very dangerous fraud. If you are still doubting the veracity of that statement and/or Mr. Spencer's book I would refer you to any or all of the following books:
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith by Martha Beck
Escape" by Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer.

After attempting to reason with True Believing Mormons on Amazon.com I was frustrated and confused. It felt like I was talking to a "wall of glass" most of the time. This had been my experience with my Brother too. I didn't feel like they were listening - or even open to listening to anything but LDS Church dogma.

Now I agree with Elizabeth Browning who once said,"Always learn from experience - preferably someone else's" so I knew that I needed to get expert advice from those who HAD gotten out of Mormonism. I was clearily missing something - insight and wisdom. And I thought I knew where to get it!

FLAMED TO A CRISP ON EXMORMON.ORG
Being Internet literate my first thought was to turn to the ExMormon Internet boards. The most popular and well known ExMormon site is www.exmormon.org (often referred to as "RfM" as in "Recovery from Mormonism").

In fact, I had used that site for a lot of my research into the history and theology of Mormonism. So I signed up for their forum and asked the following question: "Is reasoning with True Believing Mormons [in attempt to bring them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ] a waste of time?" Now remember up to that point all my experiences on the site had been positive, so you can imagine my surprise when I got flamed to a crisp in about 15-minutes with innumerable responses like:

"That's like asking which idiot is the biggest!" "You're both nuts so what's the point?" "Crazy wanker! Why should I waste any time reasoning with YOU?"

"As if YOUR so-called-god is any better than their so-called-god?"

All this vitriol was because in my post I made the mistake of revealing that I am an Evangelical Christian. I didn't know at the time that the ExMormon.org bulletin board has a reputation for quickly flaming any person of faith to carbon -- be they Mormon, Christian or anything other than Atheist.

HEALING AND HANGING OUT AT POSTMORMON.ORG
So, still needing to get my question answered, I found www.PostMormon.org via a Google search. I explained what had happened on ExMormon.org and got my question answered straightaway (the answer is, "Maybe, it depends on the TBM that you're trying to reason with." by the way). They were very nice, respectful and accommodating. They answered my questions. They asked me questions. I learned a lot about both Mormon History and Culture. I felt great, they felt great.

So far so good.

I am a computer Engineer and while I'm watching status bars on computers go by I kill idle time by doing posts - like this one - on subjects that interest me. I put up a lot of posts (and I mean A LOT - about 20 per day) on www.postmormon.org and got a generally good reception. I was careful, per the board guidelines, to qualify all my opinions with "IMO" or "from my perspective" or equivalent. To my knowledge I never once told anyone what they should believe. And if I did it was a lapse and not deliberate - I hate that stuff. However, I did speak from my life experience - the majority of which has been lived as a Christian - and I did try to provide food for thought (just like everyone else was doing)

DISCOVERING THE TRUE PURPOSE OF POSTMORMON.ORG
And, yes, I spoke in unflinching terms about what I see as the errors of Mormon Theology and the problems that I see in Mormon Culture. (However, what I said was FAR less incendiary than what was displayed by most of the ExMormons on the board)

However, through it all I refused to recant from my Evangelical Christian beliefs. Again, I was always clear on I was and what I believed. I honestly didn't think that would be a problem on a board that's called "PostMormon.org" as opposed, to say, "PostGod.org", "PostFaith.org", "AnythingButGod.org", "PostMormonNowAtheist.org", or "DontBringYourStinkinGodHere.org"

Never-the-less, at some point the board founder must have decided that these posts from a Christian perspective were a problem. To give you some perspective the board founder attended a Baptist church after he left the LDS Church and in his words (from his exit story on www.PostMormon.org), "I reached the conclusion that the New Testament is pretty much the same kind of white-wash-sell-job as the Book of Mormon. A few basic common sense concepts and a lot of whitewashing and holy sounding stuff. So I quit going to the church." (http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php/pomopedia/The_Lord_in_the_Bahamas/)

He started "calling me out" by taking direct aim at Theism in general and Christianity in particular - directly calling it "Bull Shit". His arguments were well-formed and consistent. He was very impressive and persuasive in style, delivery and substance.

Unfortunately once he started, a gang of militant Atheists lined up behind him and all the faith-based belief systems, got a thorough "stompin' 'n' trashin'". To show you how bad it got some of the posters even advocated banning religious advocacy altogether. Others implied (or simply overtly stated) that non-Atheists were at the very least unenlightened and at the most mentally ill. Suddenly I felt like a Jew surrounded by Nazis on Crystal Nacht. It was, to say the least, unsettling.

I did my best to present a Christian voice in the midst of the fray but it was hard to keep my head above water - there were several anti-Theist threads running concurrently and there were simply too many angry, militant Atheists on the board. I had a few allies but still I felt overwhelmed.

Then the board founder started a new thread called, "Really, what good is Jesus?" and this new thread unleashed an avalanche of unbridled hatred and scorn on Christ, Christianity and Christians. That was when I decided that enough was enough. I silently slid out the door and quietly shut it behind me.

NO, I AM NOT ALONE
Afterward I left, I discovered that my experience on these ExMormon boards is not unique. Here's what others have had to say about PostMormon.org:

"I [an ExMormon] am now a mainstream Christian. Not someone [who] is very accepted on the postmormon board. So I would say unless you do not believe in God; you will not have a great experience there." (http://blog.mrm.org/2007/04/validating-post-mormons/)

". . . they [PostMormon.org] won't welcome me because their communities are not about lifting up Christ. My faith is the sheer contrast. I believe in God who declares absolutes. They are angry at this conception. So it makes heart ministry to post-Mormons extremely difficult." (http://heartissuesforlds.wordpress.com/2007/06/07/postmormonorg-has-come-to-idaho-falls/) If I could have one "wish" for both ExMormon.org and PostMormon.org it would be that they would exercise full disclosure on their true agenda - which appears to be to convert True Believing Mormons into True Believing Atheists.

I agree with Mormon Researcher, Sharon Lindbloom who blogged:

"I love the idea of available support for people struggling with the problems they encounter in questioning or leaving Mormonism, but PostMormon.org seems to be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Truth is freely available to all; yet the ability to know the truth is not an illusion. By embracing this ideology PostMormon.org is merely replacing one deception with another." (http://blog.mrm.org/2007/04/validating-post-mormons/)

SO, UNLESS YOU ARE CALLED, DON'T GO
As for me, I have left and I have shaken the dust of www.PostMormon.org off my sandals (Matthew 10:11-15). I advise other Christians to not make the same mistake that I did -- twice.

These non-Christian, ExMormon sites are simply NOT safe places for people of faith! So unless God calls you there, don't go. There are much better, healthier, safer ways to learn Mormon History and Culture than these sites. In fact, the one that you're on right now is one of the best.

Fred Anson
fanson@cox.net