Friday, September 7, 2012

Abuses of Power

One of the main driving forces for many who leave the Church is when they happen upon an abuse of power and the consequences of that abuse. What kinds of abuses of power are there? What forms do they take? Are they as common as some would claim? These are the types of questions that come into play for people who are still holding to their faith while recognizing there are problems.

 As always, I will speak from my own experiences, or those shared with me by close friends and/or associates. I will start, once again, with mention from a friend of mine, Chris. As I've said in prior posts, he is dead of seizures brought on by stress, and one of his major stressors was the antics of one of his branch presidents. Cache Valley, UT, for those who are unaware, is a rather motley supplement of middle-class and poor with a smattering of upper-class. At the time in question, my friend and his family were living in an apartment complex (via Section 8 housing) in a section of CV that is pre-dominantly upper-class. Now, I've heard of people cleaning the Church for each time they asked a bishop/branch president for help. In the Church's twisted sense of charity, that's fair. But this guy took it to a whole 'nother level (or low if you prefer that term).

For even one trip to the Bishop's Storehouse (the Church's version of a food bank, minus the generosity shown by those who organize such things), my friend's family had to clean the Church-house they worshiped in 2-3 times a week. After services on Sunday evenings, the night after they had Young Men/Young Women (which is Scouts and, from my understanding, a mini-version of 'Relief Society' held once-weekly), and then on Saturday nights occasionally since their worship-house was also the Stake Center. If they wanted to get more than one visit, they also had to have Chris and his sister work at the Bishop's Storehouse for each visit after the first one. This was all done because the branch president, in his own words spoken to my friend's mother, believed their family to be a burden on the Church.

Nowadays, of course, the Church has done away with their regular method of cleaning and the occasional ward members doing it. No, now its everyone who signs up; once again showing whose the 'most faithful' has become a contest. Obviously, my father is one of those who signs up practically every week, somehow thinking he'll get blessings from it. In a way, I hope he does, because he's gonna need them in the next life considering the crap he's pulled in this one. This leads into the second major abuse of power I've seen.

In August 2005, things were not so good between my father and I. I was nineteen, had not gone on a mission, and had recently been let go from Deseret Industries. I was already struggling with spirituality, having been a very spiritual person for the previous 4-5 years. I was watching the original Star Wars movie on a Saturday night, and Dad comes into the room. We get into an argument because he wants to do family prayer and doesn't want me watching the movie, says it'll "disrupt the Sabbath". I don't take stuff like that lying down, and so we continue arguing. Long story short, it culminates in him attacking me, me fleeing to a friends, and charges being filed. But the biggest rub was we had our bishop over prior to my departure; he saw the damage; he saw the way my mother looked; he saw my father's handiwork. His reaction: to ask my father later on if he felt he could continue in his calling as High Priest Group Leader. As if someone who considers he does nothing wrong (and only recently admitted he was wrong and had done terrible things) is going to say anything other than yes. That was the first abuse of power, by someone I had trusted for years, that I had happen first-hand.

Second abuse of power I witnessed personally, and the last one to drive me into inactivity and later apostasy: I had moved to Provo, where I was attending a post-secondary academy for individuals with learning disabilities (such as autism, MR, AD/HD with OCD, etc.) I decided to attend the local singles ward, sure things couldn't be as bad in Provo as they were in Cache Valley. Boy, was I wrong. First meeting with the bishop, he sat me down and told me that because of an occurrence prior to my arrival (roughly 6 months to a year prior, from what the others told me later on) between a ScenicView resident and a young woman in the ward (who apparently no longer attended there), the bishopric had unilaterally chosen to ban all men from ScenicView from dating within the ward. I was shocked, and asked for further clarification, that this ban extended to the entire ward. The bishop clarifies that while he discourages dating within the ward, believing it would disturb the spirit, that the only ones banned were ScenicView residents (which at the time was only men. My understanding is they now accept women, at least as day students).

Suffice to say, I stopped attending Church for the most part soon after, and eventually found my way to sites such as Recovery from Mormonism and Post Mormon. I have found a new community, one where I can air my views without feeling like I'm going to be shot to death because I have a differing opinion than others.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Constitution: Sacred Document, later ignored by BY, now held up as a shining symbol?

So, I was thinking about how everyone in my family (all Mormon) go on and on about how the Constitution is a sacred document. And yet, I can't help but recall that, while the Utah Territory did belong to Mexico for a time, the inhabitants therein (besides the Native Americans) had been taught by Joseph Smith and their other leaders (including Brigham Young) that the Constitution was a divinely-inspired document. In essence, they were teaching people, and have continued to teach them to this day, that the Constitution ranks up there with the Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, and then finally the Doctrine & Covenants plus the Pearl of Great Price. And yet, when it came down to it, the adherents of this ideal left many of the facets of the Constitution behind and lived in a Theocracy, where the leader of the Church was also the head of state for the Utah Territory government.

Brigham Young led a theocracy, wherein he was the Governor and the Council of the Twelve were, in essence, the Legislature along with what would be the Council of Seventy in today's world. People could expect callings such as schoolteacher and Scout Master (the second of which is still considered a calling within the Church) as well as more spiritually-based callings. A good portion of the reasoning for this theocracy was that fact that the Mormon Church had broken many laws in Nauvoo, the idea of plural marriage easily being considered the least problematic. More troubling was the destruction of a press that offered a differing point-of-view and exposed the truth, and countless other cover-ups.

Now, apparently the Illinois governor was moved by the plight of the Mormon Church after they arrived in that region after having been driven from Missouri; I think this, combined with the actions of John C. Bennett (before his eventual ex-communication for exposing the truth of polygamy to the Church for his own lecherous purposes, if one is to believe the annotations of the Mormon Church), led to the creation of the Nauvoo Legion. Another interesting thing is that Joseph Smith was both Mayor of Nauvoo and the leader of the Nauvoo Legion. I think he was even given the rank of General, if I recall my research from all those years ago correctly. Now, I don't know if a city militia does actually answer to the Mayor as their commanding officer, but fi they did, I'm pretty sure a militia does not actually get military rankings, especially not ones as high as General. So we see, in these events prior to the eventual exodus of the Mormons from Illinois (three years after the death of Joseph Smith, one should note, instead of immediately afterward), that there were already leanings of a theocracy. Joseph Smith was prophet, politician, and military commander for Nauvoo. In today's world, that type of person would easily be considered a threat. I believe Osama bin Laden was a similar type of person for those who followed him, and we see the efforts of his design even after a decade of war.

Now, the Mormon Church does not say this aloud, but it is implied that when the Savior returns, that those still alive will be living in a theocracy. By those still alive, I mean those who survive the so-called judgments of the Apocalypse. Honestly, I don't see how anyone can believe in such a wrathful god, especially while preaching the very same god as being a merciful and loving supreme being. I would much rather live in a messed up free republic, or whatever America has right now, than live in a theocracy. Religion has no place in politics; and on the same hand, politics has no place in religion. However, many people seem to favor the mixing of the two; anyone with a brain can see that as the beginnings of a theocracy. I think I'm going to consider moving to Britain....

Faith-Promoting Tale: The Attempted Assassination of Joseph Smith at Age 13

Now, I first heard about this on one of the Church-sponsored videos, the series about the 'Latter Day Prophets'. In the video, which is partially narrated by Lucy Mack Smith but mainly by W.W. Phelps, there's a point that covers Joseph's childhood prior to the 'First Vision'. In this segment, it mentioned that, when Joseph was 13, someone apparently shot at him, the bullet crossing his path, with the intent of killing him. Joseph apparently ran to his home, frightened, and the male members of his family went out to seek the assassin. This is also mentioned in the biography of Joseph written by his mother.

Now, I tried looking for another source about this; but I can't find it. I have come to the conclusion that this is one of those tales that was created to further solidify the idea that Joseph Smith was a prophet and not a con-man. Now, if this actually occurred, I would assume the Smiths went to the constable and reported the attempt. If so, that would require a record of some kind. This event would have taken place sometime between December 1818 and the same month in 1819 (as Joseph was 14 in early 1820 when the 'First Vision' is said to have occurred). Now, if this did in fact occur, one can come to one of two conclusions: either Joseph Smith was, in fact, a future prophet and Satan was attempting to take him out through a worldly servant, or Joseph had angered someone in his local area, possibly by stealing or perhaps conning them and they attempted to get even in a fit of drunken rage. Of those two, if you are someone who considers themselves logical and able to reason, than the second of the two seems far more likely. If you're someone who doesn't need evidence and bases their opinion solely on emotion without facts, than you must believe the former.

Myself, I lean towards the ideal that Joseph had conned someone who had rather poor judgment and needed to work up a bit of courage via drunkenness before attempting to get revenge, which would account for how someone would miss their target in a rural area of New York where even the more posh townsfolk would likely have enough skill with a rifle. And that is if this event even occurred and was not, in fact, fabricated from the writings of Lucy Mack Smith in an attempt to further solidify Joseph's place as a Prophet in the eyes of his followers.

In the coming weeks I'll be working on a post regarding Nazi Germany again, but it will have a far different focus. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bullying & Apathy: A Growing Sign of Trouble Within Christian-based Society

Bullying has always been a major issue in schools; it is only with the current rash of bully-related suicides of homosexual teens that we have seen a more prominent awareness of this phenomena and a push for more harsh punishments for the perpetrators.I have noted, with some concern, a growing rate of apathy by those who profess to be good, decent, loving Christians towards this phenomena and a tendency to not support anti-bullying measures based solely on philosophical disagreements. It is amusing to me to see this, since those who are opposing anti-bullying are the types of people who, in the 1950's, would have been advocating the thrashing of an obstinate child with their belt.

I recall reading in a recent article of my hometown newspaper, the Herald Journal, about an anti-bullying measure in Idaho that was blocked by the state Republican Party, since the proposal came from a member of the state's Democrat Party. This legislation would have ensured that teachers would have to crack down on bullying and involve themselves in these matters; now, I could almost see the point that some might suggest, that it should be an obvious solution that doesn't need to be legislated. But what is rather telling is a comment made by one of the leaders of the Idaho State Republican Party who helped block this legislation. This member was quoted in the newspaper as saying, "This really isn't that much of a problem here, anyways."

Now Idaho, from my understanding, is mainly rural country towns with a few major cities dotted here and there throughout the state. Perhaps the good Senator is unaware that, statistically speaking, more bullying goes on in isolated, rural towns than in centralized cities; in particular, the more vicious kinds of bullying like school hazing and persecution of individuals for the most pathetic of reasons (race, religion, sexual preference being amongst the top) are not only common, but almost accepted as a right of passage. Please note it is these types of towns that tend to popularize the ideal of attaching chains to the legs of an aberrant individual and dragging them through town behind a truck until they are dead. However, even I must note that this does happen often (unless it is covered up to keep people from talking).

Now, I cannot speak for every single town and city in the United States, nor shall I pretend to. But I can note that amongst Mormon teens, the source of bullying is often those who are considered the 'morally-upright'. That is, despite the popular notion of society that the Goth or otherwise emo-kid lifestyle of teens who are considered outcasts mean that they are the trouble-makers, it is often those considered the morally-upright who tend to take the lead in the troubling issue of bullying. In my own experience, it was not the Goth kids, or even the Mexican 'gang-bangers', for lack of a better term, who made the lives of those who were not 'with the moral majority' a living hell.

I will preface my next statement with this: that I am, in fact, someone who gets on quite well with the following crowd, and cerrtainly had friends within it. The crowd of which I speak would be those considered to be the 'in-crowd', or popular students such as cheerleaders, the various sportsmen of the school, and the occasional 'socially-acceptable nerd'. Now, I got along fine with the sportsmen in the years above me; but the ones in my own grade, and the ones who came after us, were often the source of a great deal of bullying.

Within one week of becoming part of Logan High School's social groups (being an outcast myself but without the distinct pleasure of being a Goth or other sub-culture, including 'gang-bangers') I had found myself targeted by one of the more skilled sportsmen on the football team (and later the basketball and baseball teams). I eventually had to take a stand, and was not bothered the rest of my time in high school by these particular elements. But I did take note of their sometimes bullying nature, and so took it upon myself to be around as much as possible, visible in those arenas where their bullying was most likely to take place.

These types of bullies are probably the worst kind, in that they are smart enough to act out when there are no individuals with authority around (or at least capable of witnessing such acts). The 'stand' I mentioned earlier came as the result of nearly a month of this particular boy's concerted efforts. Had I been in better shape, I would likely have been expelled from school for beating one of their better players' to a bloody pulp. Suffice to say, though, my chasing him out of class, evading the grip of teachers who were trying to stop me, sent the message that I'd no longer tolerate his efforts.

Now, please note that this guy later became someone who I could, at best, consider an acquaintance, and he did seem to grow out of this bullying nature; others of his type, however, do not and continue their antics well past high school. But what is worst of all, for those who have become the victims of bullies, is to hear that the parents of said bullies and school officials consider it the fault of the victim rather than the fault of bad parenting or school officials not doing enough to crack down on bullies and their antics. This type of stance, to blame the victim, is highly psychopathic in nature and sends a strong signal to the bullied that they do not matter to this society and are better left off dead and rotting. And so they end their own lives; some would call it taking the easy way out, but most would say that its them making their own statement on their opinion of our society.

It saddens me that the party to which I belonged for several years,and the atmosphere in which I grew up, has truly come to the point of not caring about the many lives lost due to their apathetic nature and willingness to protect those who bully and antagonize to the point of desperation and suicide. I hope that one day, people who profess to be kind, decent, honest, and compassionate will truly reflect upon their choices; it is a commentary in and of itself on society when our lawmakers must attempt to legislate something like how to deal with bullies because society has become so inept at dealing with such problems.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Faithfulness to God: The Contradictory Method by Which Cursings and Blessings are applied

Faithfulness to God; it is taught to Mormon children from Sunbeams on up through their years in Seminary and onto Institute in college and university. Obey the commandments, and you will be rewarded; break the commandments or ignore the promptings of the spirit, and you will be cursed. In the Book of Mormon, Laman and Lemuel were 'cursed' with a black skin because they did not heed the warnings of the angel. Now, way I see it, God's consistent; so if he's going to curse someone with black skin or something dramatic to show their unfaithfulness, he's going to do it regardless. Now, if that's true, I should now be black; but I am still a Caucasian male.

Now, something interesting that cropped up as I got older was that the blessings (which I was originally told would come about throughout my life as long as I was faithful) would, in fact, only come in the afterlife. In this life, the more faithful you were, the more hardships you would face, because Satan and his arch-demons (sorry, but if God has angels, then Satan's helpers must be demons) surround us all. Apparently, there are a great deal more of those spiritual demons on our planet than human beings, and they are apparently responsible for all the suffering of those who are faithful (and even for those who are not, according to Church doctrine).

Well, I was always told God is all-powerful, and that when someone swears their allegiance to God through baptism and keeping the commandments, that God will protect them. So if God is all-powerful, and is easily capable of banishing out demons from people as recorded in other religious histories, than surely he can banish a handful of measley demons who are whispering in a person's ear? Wait, what's this? He can't? Why? Oh, because I'm not faithful enough? But I did all this stuff I was supposed to!

Meanwhile, people who don't subjugate themselves to God through Mormon doctrines have led greatly successful lives, and it is in fact only successful Mormons who tend to fall into leadership positions beyond the local levels. No surprises there; they want to be considered equals, and if one person's the owner of a large business (like one of the New Presiding Bishopric) and one of them is your run-of-the-mill bank manager (one of my old bishops) they're not likely to run in the same circles. Now, I was told that the reason so many 'non-Mormons' had been successful in their fields was because they had given themselves wholly over to Satan and had cut themselves off from the truth. I later heard this phrase used when speaking of the various school shooters, who all tend to have the same blank look on their face.

Now, I had a good friend, Chris, who was among the most faithful people I ever knew. He had a great deal of stress put on him, and one of the most difficult things for me was to watch my friend deteriorate and still try to be the faithful priesthood holder. By the end, it was hard for him to remember what he had said the day before, due to both his seizures and the medications he was taking. Some have blamed a car accident, which may have been a factor, but his greatest difficulty was the stress in his life. I realized, a year prior to his death, that I was contributing in a fashion to his stress, and stopped what I kenw was adding to that. Others would, or perhaps could not. But the thing that added stress to him the most was two-fold: first, sleeping with his girlfriend and getting chastened for it; and then finding out that his girlfriend had actually been actively trying to get pregnant, and get him married to her fast. he told me he found out that her mother actively pushed her daughters into it; after that was found out, social services thankfully descended and removed the younger children from the mother's care.

But Chris was a good man, and an even greater friend; he kept a great outlook on life, and was very spiritual. He rarely committed what some would consider a grievous sin; in truth, the only 'sin' he committed daily was drinking caffeinated soda, which I myself do. So, where is God in this situation? On the one hand, a good, faithful man who was pretty much like a big kid, is dead; and people who have caused him stress in his life, including a branch president with an ego problem, still live and even hold on to their power? I know that life is not fair, but if the promises of the church (faithful is blessed, unfaithful is cursed) are true, than Chris should never have died in such a way.

It was Chris's death that truly showed me the 'great and wonderful mercy of God'. Apparently, the only mercy God could grant was to let Chris die and leave his pain-wracked body. Personally, I don't think that's enough; there was a lot that could've been done to lessen his stress levels so that he wouldn't have even had seizures. I remember when we were in high school, Chris would walk around gripping the side of his neck, and I asked why he would do that. His answer: that he started doing it before going to bed because he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to die in his sleep. He eventually stopped doing it, and what happens? he dies in his sleep. Guess that's another mercy of God's, but it still isn't enough.

Anyways, from my perspective, blessings happen to those who do not follow the Mormon doctrines more than they do to those who do; and those who follow the Mormon doctrines generally live a hellish existence, all the while thinking that they will receive a great abundance of blessings if they 'hold to the iron rod'. Well, I told myself that for over a decade; and in the end, all I've received for my troubles has been an inability to find a decent job (thanks to abandoning my education due to believing the 'judgements of the last days' were imminent), and unable to air my views except online and on the Post-Mormon.org forums (and at the meetings). 
 
Next up: abuses of power, and how eye-opening they can be.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Law of Consecration: A Mormon Version of Communism?

Right, so this was something I spotted way back in high school, and was among the first things I questioned, knowing what would happen (having questioned things in earlier years without realizing the weight of judgment that would befall me). The Law of Consecration, first 'revealed' to Joseph Smith in 1831, is a 'law' wherein members of the church consecrated (read, gave away freely) all their property and means to the church, to be redistributed to the poor of the Church, who were coming into Kirtland in droves. Now, something to note is that among the 'poor' in the church were Joseph and Emma, who shared a farmhouse (from which Joseph would later be dragged, tarred, and feathered, presumably leading to the death of his adopted son, Joseph Murdock Smith). So one can almost see that the leaders of the LDS Church have used the means which the members give them to support themselves almost since the beginning.

Now, let's think about this for a moment: people were coming in, having abandoned successful farms or businesses in Eastern states because they believed so strongly in this new, semi-Christian faith that had sprung up. I would direct anyone interested to watch Work and the Glory: American Zion. In there, Benjamin Steed (who is narrating slightly) says something along the lines of, "I still don't understand it. These Mormons, most of them dirt-poor and with barely a roof overhead, are hard at work on the temple because Joseph asked them to." During this monologue by Ben Steed, we see increasingly fanatical shots of people playing Mormons who are working on the temple. Another point in this same movie is where Joseph asks Nathan, Ben's son, why he's building the temple after Joseph asks him where he's currently sleeping. Nathan replies, "because you asked me to." Not "because the Lord asked me to", but "because you, Joseph Smith, who I believe to be a prophet, asked me to." Now, obviously they had Joseph rebuke Nathan, but its a pretty big selling point right there that a lot of what happened in the early Church, regardless of being 'revealed' or not, was done on Joseph's word, and Joseph's word alone. It is my personal belief that Joseph Smith could easily have been a sociopath; they are capable of faking superficial charms and other emotions in order to lure their targets into their traps. Sociopaths glory in the emotional pain of their targets; and what is more painful in terms of emotion than the threat of losing your family for all eternity?

Now, back to the Law of Consecration: I was told this when I asked about the similarities between communism and this law: "Communism is a crude, Satanic imitation of a good and wholesome law." Well, let's take a look at that for a moment. Communism, at its core, is a form of government where there is no upper, middle, and lower classes; their is true equality, but only because the government enforces sameness; depending on your position within a communist party (for example, if your simply a citizen or one of the inner circle of the communist leader), than you may get a large amount of resources, including a home and amenities. The size of your family may also be a contribution to what you receive. There would also be no boundaries (a stateless society, in essence).  This is supposedly the ideal version of a communist society, before the Marx-Lenin movements.

Now, let's take those points and apply them to the Law of Consecration:

The Church takes into account your status and gives you what it believes you need to survive, and only what you need to just barely survive.

The Church does not respect those who once held high station; your faithfulness to the Church will determine your blessings (in the case of the Law of Consecration, you would receive a larger amount than a less-faithful member in the same circumstances).

The Church decides when and where the distribution of means is given.

Nowadays, the only remnant is the law of tithing, but I remember a bishop of mine talking to me about how one day, the Law of Consecration would become a major player in the Church again (speaking of the founding of the New Jerusalem). I personally found the whole "communism is a Satanic version of a good and wholesome law" excuse very suspect, and always have. Now that I can air my views, I'm not going to hold back. Especially on my own blog!

A small anecdote for those living in Cache Valley, UT: anyone notice that for all the ranting about communist-socialist cretins that goes on here, our local transportation system could be considered a 'communist idea'? Way I see it, if the government paying for something big is a communist agenda, than isn't the government using taxes to pay for free public transportation a communist/socialist idea?

Oh, and apparently, you can't challenge the leader of a communist country without facing execution. In the Church, you can't challenge stated doctrine or a leader of high regard without facing ex-communication (and from my understanding before Utah became a state, it was in fact practice to hunt down and kill anyone who argued with Brigham Young or other Church leadership on established doctrines and/or practices, such as plural marriage or blatant racism).

That's just some of my thoughts on this matter. Not sure what my next topic will be, but it'll either be serious like this, or semi-satirical like my one on addictions. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Addictions: Harmful or Not?

Now, there are definitely some harmful addictions out there. No one's disputing that. I'm talking about addictions that the Mormon church teaches are of the devil and, once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny... Wait, this isn't a Star Wars movie, it's a blog!

Okay, now that I've got that bit of humor out of the way, here are the addictions, if one can call some of them an addiction, that the LDS (Mormon) Church goes on about.

1. Drugs
2. Alcohol
3. Pornography
4. Masturbation
6. Caffeine

On addiction number 1, I do agree that many drugs, illegal or not, can be addictive and harmful if taken in excess. I will never touch the illegal drugs simply because I have had an experience within my own family where the person used so many drugs for so long that multiple cancers ate away at her body, far more than her other siblings. In regards to smoking, well, if you're smoking you probably already read the warnings and have decided to continue, so there's not much I could say to stop you. Long as you're legally able to access cigarettes, I don't think it matters much. If you're not able to, well, good luck if the police catch ya.

Addiction #2: Alcohol
Another one that is difficult to consider coming from personal experience. The same member of my family I mentioned (my biological mother, who gave me up for adoption to her Mormon sister and brother-in-law rather than put me in foster care) was a drunk in addition to being a drug addict. In many of her episodes while the adoption process was happening, she would sometimes call and threaten to take me away and put me in foster care. I have since learned these usually happened whenever my biological father, Frank, would attempt to gain custody of me. In the end, I may drink occasionally, and from my understanding a great deal of people manage their alcohol intake affectively. There are some, though, who are incapable of handling alcohol and become alcoholics, to the point that they're always drunk. A friend of mine has this issue with his stepfather, and we have occasionally considered moving in together to avoid our mutual problem parents, for lack of a better term. Of course, this cannot be simply because we lack the necessary resources.

Addiction #3 and #4: Pornography and Masturbation

Since they go hand-in-hand, I thought I'd tackle these particular elements together. Pornography, to my understanding, includes images, stories, and video clips of a sexual nature, which include hetero-sexual participants as well as GLBT participants, in recent years. These also include such things as bondage games, and videos of bondage that are easily accessible in recent years over the internet. One can even find such videos on YouTube. That says something, doesn't it?

Now, me, I always thought masturbation was a natural part of life, but was told that it was wrong, despicable, and that I would go to hell if I was caught doing it. So I just wasn't caught. Due to my inability to speak to a beautiful woman with the intent of asking them on a date, I have had to utilize masturbation, normally doing so without the aid of a magazine or anything of that nature. I need merely imagine such. I have also found that while it is not a necessary component for me, I do react to bondage videos. When I first realized this, I was horrified and contemplated suicide; I must be truly awful person if I am turned on by bondage videos.

I've since realized it is not a sin to have urges such as that; acting on them with unwilling participants, though, is certainly a sin, and to my knowledge most of these videos online are done by people in relationships that are solely based on bondage. I have mentioned bondage and other such things of what I call 'the darker side of humanity' in my other blog.

Addiction #5: Caffeine

Okay, I gotta ask: what the heck's wrong with caffeine? If you need a bit of a jolt to wake you up in the morning, either coffee or soda is able to do that, depending on your tolerance level for caffeine. According to Mormon leaders, caffeine is bad for you because it is included in coffee. Last I checked, the word of wisdom never said what ingredients were wrong for the body, but I'd wager they weren't talking about caffeine since I don't think tea (not herbal tea but regular tea) has caffeine. And if caffeine's so bad for you, then why do Mormons eat chocolate and drink cocoa so much? Something's screwy with this picture.

As you can see, this post is somewhat less-serious, but still attempting to point out that while some things are indeed harmful, the legal drugs have warnings, people can choose to not drink if they're intolerant to alcohol, masturbation is a natural part of life, porn can be good if used in moderation (which Mormons are incapable of doing because they have repressed their sexuality) and caffeine may be damaging in long-term use, but if that's right, then Mormons are as guilty as coffee-drinkers of this.

Next topic will be slightly more serious. I've noticed a lot of Mormons go on about socialism being communism and such, but how many of them really recognize that the Church, in itself, promotes socialism of the type they supposedly abhor?