Another exchange that originated on AML-List...
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
Or do we?
We've all heard the horror stories of non-members growing up in Zion who were horribly mistreated by people who profess to believe the Article of Faith quoted above. But our greatest contempt is reserved for those who have the audacity to leave our ranks—and leave in peace.
I have many ex-Mo friends—in fact, socially I'm probably more often attracted to ex-Mos than Mos, and the Mos I enjoy most are the culturally liberal ones. So to whatever degree you're implying your comments toward me in particular because I've allowed myself to run somewhat amuck here with my comments, I just want to say that perhaps my kneejerk claims that leaving the church is never the right decision and someone who does is spiritually off kilter arise from my own fears and temptations along the same lines.
While I do believe what I've been saying, another part of me actually admires and envies people who drop out of the church and get to drink beer and not have to go to meetings and do callings and crap. But I don't want to go there myself, and I don't think it's the right place for anyone to go.
I don't pretend to know much at all about Dutcher's individual case except to feel pretty certain that his artistic ego must be involved at some level, but I do think he's setting a horrible example, and my way of deflecting his bad example for myself is to reaffirm the things I've been reaffirming, perhaps even with a tinge of desperation. I wonder how many others will drop the rope along with Dutcher...
We rejoice in the hardships "apostates" experience because they validate our conviction that they're wrong and evil and they've earned their punishment. I wonder how much of the pain they experience is caused or compounded because of our patently unchristian response to them. And I wonder about the fears they stir within the soul of our community—fears that make us circle up the wagons and shoot angry accusations and flaming hopes for hell fire.
I don't know who you're talking about here—certainly not me! I hate the idea of Dutcher or his family or anyone else suffering. I do have to believe that a guy like Dutcher is giving up some blessings, otherwise there's no reason I'd still be in the church myself. But to rejoice in any misfortune that comes anyone's way, whether in or out of the church—jeez, not me.
What are we afraid of?
Lots of stuff: feeling tempted enough to drop out of Mormonism myself, Dutcher's example encouraging others to make the same ill-advised choice, etc. There's a lot at stake here and many dangers and temptations, and circling the wagons is one way to survive them. There's a lot of truth to that oft-discussed continuum of tolerate-accept-embrace-become, and while I don't usually care for slippery-slope thinking, this is a very slippery slope!