9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Kishkumen
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9/11 Impact on my Faith

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When the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were struck by terrorist-hijacked planes, I was still an active member of the LDS Church. I would remain an active member of the LDS Church for another 6 years. Sure, I was aware of problems with the history. I was already persuaded that the Book of Mormon was not an ancient text. Still, I believed in fundamental teachings about charity, forgiveness, etc. There was a lot that I liked about the LDS Church.

My departure was complicated. I can't point to just one thing. What I would like to do, however, is say something about the role that 9/11 had in my disaffection from the LDS Church. Maybe no one else looked at things in this way, or was impacted by those events in the way that I was, but in my estimation my desire to affiliate with the LDS Church was deeply impacted by the 9/11 attacks.

First, you should know that, for better or worse, I voted for George W. Bush. I came to regret that over time, and I was troubled by the events in Supreme Court and in Florida that secured his victory over Al Gore. But, I did cast a vote for W, albeit in California, which went heavy for Gore anyway. OK, I knew that my vote had no great practical impact on anything, but I have always taken my responsibility to vote very seriously. When the Twin Towers were struck, for a while I felt relieved that I had voted for W. In retrospect I had no good reason to feel relieved by my choice. Again, California. When Bush rallied Americans and promised to strike back at the terrorists, I felt a visceral hometeam pride that we would get our revenge.

It was when there started to be rumblings about the role of Iraq in 9/11 that I was first really unsettled. Honestly, I just didn't believe that Iraq had anything significant to do with 9/11. It didn't make sense. Moreover, the thought of initiating yet another serious war on the other side of the world just seemed like a bad idea. The evidence against Iraq was dubious, the prospects for success dubious. By the time we invaded Iraq, I was convinced it was a bad idea and probably a trumped up war. I could not believe that we were doing something so risky and consequential based on such flimsy evidence.

And here is where I get to the LDS Church part. The Church, of course, was very supportive of these wars. This should be no big surprise, but I think it was my conviction that the Iraq War was such a bad idea that was founded on faulty or false evidence, that really started to alienate me from the leaders of the LDS Church and my fellow members. You see, I saw the Church cozy up to the Bush administration, and I saw conservative members of the Church increasingly as loudmouthed ideologues who were blindly in favor of a bad war and not sufficiently concerned about the impact of 9/11 and our wars on our financial future as a country and our freedoms as citizens. I recall one particular low point when BYU gave Dick Cheney an honorary degree. By this point in time, that really sickened me.

So when the Church decided to mobilize for Prop 8, I was already in a very bad place with the LDS Church. It was this further conservative political activity against gay marriage that did me in. As a descendant of polygamists, I found it the very height of hypocrisy for the LDS Church to push the definition of a "one man/one woman" marriage in a fight against gay marriage. I started to get tired of the LDS Church playing both sides of various issues. Sure, they won't repudiate polygamy, but gay people sure as hell shouldn't infringe on "one man/one woman marriage"!

If 9/11 helped significantly to erode the line between politics and religion at church meetings, then Prop 8 removed any remaining barriers. What I perceived was the LDS Church's strong alignment with the GOP and with cultural "conservatives" of the Religious Right. Obviously the members bearing testimonies of George W. Bush and against gay marriage saw exactly the same thing. Personally, I did not a person with my values being comfortable in that place. The fact that we had moved to the South did not help. Southern Mormons seemed to be a lot more like their Bible belt cousins than Mormons in other areas of the country where I had previously attended church.

I hope everyone understands that this is an autobiographical story. It is a story of my perceptions and my recollections. It is not sociological work that seeks to explain disaffection from Mormonism on political grounds as a phenomenon. All I can say is that for me, 9/11 was a significant event that put me on a course that took me out of the LDS Church. It is not the case that I felt I had ceased to be Mormon as a result. What I lost was any real sense that I needed to be concerned about the leadership of the LDS Church and the opinions of other LDS people.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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This all makes good sense to me actually. The fact that the church has entrenched itself even further in the GOP and Trump is just positively horrifying to me these days. They can have no moral compass being in league with Trump. NONE. That such a heinously immoral man is looked up to by so many church leaders exactly tells me of their own moral compass. It simply isn't there anymore. They have nothing to offer either in this world or the next. I found that elsewhere, happily enough!
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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I understand, Kish. Thanks for sharing the story.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Yeah me too, I get your story and it makes sense to me. Looking back, we should not have invaded Iraq. If we had proof they had an illegal station then we could have hit it from the air. Going into Iraq was macho Americanism with the big stick and it didn't need to go down that way. So much suffering and misery has come of it. I suppose had the US just left the powers that be in force it would have served as a check against Iran and the status quo would have continued.

But all that is just my viewpoint. I would much rather have Bush as president today than that madman that's in the White House now. It's really all come down to this? What a circus. What a joke. What a sad story and situation. I don't even like being an American anymore. I just don't care. I don't give a damn anymore. I'm going to vote for Biden and a straight ticket and leave it at that. I'm not doing anything else. I'm done.

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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:54 am
Personally, I did not see a place for a person with my values being comfortable in that place.
This tells me everything about the person you are and who I have come to know over time. I can relate to the need for authenticity that you discuss in your post. It is the very same reason, in fact, that I left my own Southern Baptist church. The straw that broke the camel's back for me would seem inconsequential to most anyone else but it was one in a series of experiences that so glaringly convinced me that I needed to disassociate myself from my Southern Baptist church.

I get it, Kish. I so completely get it.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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It's funny how people experience things differently. My main memory of the LDS church and the Iraq war was the talk given by Gordon B. Hinckley on the subject. The talk could best be summarized as: "Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn't; it's hard to say." At that time I was, like you, a faithful member. However, even at that time, that talk was disappointing to me. For me the main philosophical/theological issue was the new political doctrine of a preemptive war and I was hoping that the LDS church would address it. When Gordon B. Hinckley started talking about the war, I thought he would do so. I wanted and was expecting to hear a prophet of God, instead I heard a political operative wanting it both ways.

My wife and I were living in California at the time of Prop 22, the often forgot precursor to prop 8, and I was still fully LDS. The LDS church convinced us to do some door-to-door canvassing for that proposition. We went to three doors on the list we were assigned. After the third door I looked at my wife and said, "This is BS, who cares?" She agreed, we chucked the dumb list, and went home. By the time of prop 8 I was out of the church. My memory of prop 8 was that the LDS church was not showing their true colors and were going all in. It was almost like they were trying to use the proposition to show Evangelicals and Catholics how awesome they were and that they too could fight political battles for good. Ironically, by that time I think a lot of EV's and Catholics had given up on politics, which is why the LDS church basically had to go for it alone in 2008.

I think their involvement in gay marriage issues had little to do with gay marriage and more about being able to continue to hold up the fig leaf of the Manifesto as the reason for no longer engaging in polygamy. They surmised, probably correctly, that preventing gay marriage would also prevent legalization of polygamy. I think the LDS church is absolutely petrified of legalized polygamy. Wilford Woodruff left the door open to a return of polygamy by not denying the doctrine, but only stopping the practice based on the legality of it. When the legality problems go away, the Manifesto becomes null and void, at least on a plain reading of the text.

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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Philo Sofee wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:06 pm
This all makes good sense to me actually. The fact that the church has entrenched itself even further in the GOP and Trump is just positively horrifying to me these days. They can have no moral compass being in league with Trump. NONE. That such a heinously immoral man is looked up to by so many church leaders exactly tells me of their own moral compass. It simply isn't there anymore. They have nothing to offer either in this world or the next. I found that elsewhere, happily enough!
Yeah, I’m so out of the loop these days that I have no clue how favorable LDS leaders are toward Trump. I have heard of b-list former leaders who are. I know that idiot Hatch is. I have heard, though, that his support thins out among the top leaders. Where he finds a lot of support is among the general membership in the US. I wouldn’t want to try going to an LDS Ward in the South right now.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Res Ipsa wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:18 pm
I understand, Kish. Thanks for sharing the story.
Thanks for reading, RI.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist

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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Shulem wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:29 pm
Yeah me too, I get your story and it makes sense to me. Looking back, we should not have invaded Iraq. If we had proof they had an illegal station then we could have hit it from the air. Going into Iraq was macho Americanism with the big stick and it didn't need to go down that way. So much suffering and misery has come of it. I suppose had the US just left the powers that be in force it would have served as a check against Iran and the status quo would have continued.

But all that is just my viewpoint. I would much rather have Bush as president today than that madman that's in the White House now. It's really all come down to this? What a circus. What a joke. What a sad story and situation. I don't even like being an American anymore. I just don't care. I don't give a damn anymore. I'm going to vote for Biden and a straight ticket and leave it at that. I'm not doing anything else. I'm done.
I’m feeling pretty down myself. The country is so terribly divided.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Jersey Girl wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:07 pm
This tells me everything about the person you are and who I have come to know over time. I can relate to the need for authenticity that you discuss in your post. It is the very same reason, in fact, that I left my own Southern Baptist church. The straw that broke the camel's back for me would seem inconsequential to most anyone else but it was one in a series of experiences that so glaringly convinced me that I needed to disassociate myself from my Southern Baptist church.

I get it, Kish. I so completely get it.
That must have been difficult, even though you felt it was the right thing to do. It is interesting. I used to wonder how it could be that others did not see what I was seeing. It was definitely a learning experience—wrestling with that question. I continue to be surprised at my own limitations.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist

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Kishkumen
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Aristotle Smith wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:01 pm
It's funny how people experience things differently. My main memory of the LDS church and the Iraq war was the talk given by Gordon B. Hinckley on the subject. The talk could best be summarized as: "Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn't; it's hard to say." At that time I was, like you, a faithful member. However, even at that time, that talk was disappointing to me. For me the main philosophical/theological issue was the new political doctrine of a preemptive war and I was hoping that the LDS church would address it. When Gordon B. Hinckley started talking about the war, I thought he would do so. I wanted and was expecting to hear a prophet of God, instead I heard a political operative wanting it both ways.

My wife and I were living in California at the time of Prop 22, the often forgot precursor to prop 8, and I was still fully LDS. The LDS church convinced us to do some door-to-door canvassing for that proposition. We went to three doors on the list we were assigned. After the third door I looked at my wife and said, "This is BS, who cares?" She agreed, we chucked the dumb list, and went home. By the time of prop 8 I was out of the church. My memory of prop 8 was that the LDS church was not showing their true colors and were going all in. It was almost like they were trying to use the proposition to show Evangelicals and Catholics how awesome they were and that they too could fight political battles for good. Ironically, by that time I think a lot of EV's and Catholics had given up on politics, which is why the LDS church basically had to go for it alone in 2008.

I think their involvement in gay marriage issues had little to do with gay marriage and more about being able to continue to hold up the fig leaf of the Manifesto as the reason for no longer engaging in polygamy. They surmised, probably correctly, that preventing gay marriage would also prevent legalization of polygamy. I think the LDS church is absolutely petrified of legalized polygamy. Wilford Woodruff left the door open to a return of polygamy by not denying the doctrine, but only stopping the practice based on the legality of it. When the legality problems go away, the Manifesto becomes null and void, at least on a plain reading of the text.
Thank you for sharpening my recollection re: Hinckley’s talk. That WAS my issue at the time—his lack of clear opposition to preemptive war. That is more accurate and careful. I think that my overall sense over time was that the Church largely supported the Iraq War, but I am sure that impression was colored by interactions with local members and the general cozy relationship with the Bush administration.

Thank you for sharing your experience with Prop 22. Good for you in dropping out of that effort early on! We specifically left over Prop 8. The bishopric came over to our house to address our concerns. That went nowhere. By the way, one of the counselors that came with the bishop that day has now left the Church too.

I have had the same thoughts about the Church's rationale for opposing gay marriage, but at this point I think it was really mostly an anti-gay thing. I say that because of Oaks’ consistent involvement in that issue since the 1980s.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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The Rev: "Thank you for sharpening my recollection re: Hinckley’s talk. That WAS my issue at the time—his lack of clear opposition to preemptive war."

I was unaware of that trend from the pulpit itself. I'm quite aware of the Mopologist's justification of preemptive war at Interpreter, and also the fact that given they embrace the idea, the idea enables the expanse of Mopologetics. Attacking Mormon transhumanists? Get 'em now before they become a problem for us! The Book of Mormon tells us to!
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:57 pm

That must have been difficult, even though you felt it was the right thing to do. It is interesting. I used to wonder how it could be that others did not see what I was seeing. It was definitely a learning experience—wrestling with that question. I continue to be surprised at my own limitations.
By that time it wasn't difficult at all. I walked out never to return and I knew it. I know with the Saints, home teachers are often sent to call upon folks. No one in my church came looking for me, do you know what I mean, and I had held "callings". When I saw church friends in public, we greeted each other and had long personal conversations to catch up. We still do.

We'll always be family to each other but some of the things I saw going on first hand particularly with "newcomers" and how the climate seemed to be changing, I couldn't be associated with it and still be who I am. I'm not one of those people who can walk around with a smile plastered on my face acting like the vessel isn't taking on water.

I always say that churches would be fine but for the humans involved in them. My experience was such that I came to think that too many parishioners try to fill insecure places by using church positions and alliances to fulfill their needs instead of letting their faith in God lead them to a better state of being.

What can I say? I believed what I was taught in Sunday School and I no longer saw it at work in that particular church.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Jersey Girl wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:00 pm
By that time it wasn't difficult at all. I walked out never to return and I knew it. I know with the Saints, home teachers are often sent to call upon folks. No one in my church came looking for me, do you know what I mean, and I had held "callings". When I saw church friends in public, we greeted each other and had long personal conversations to catch up. We still do.

We'll always be family to each other but some of the things I saw going on first hand particularly with "newcomers" and how the climate seemed to be changing, I couldn't be associated with it and still be who I am. I'm not one of those people who can walk around with a smile plastered on my face acting like the vessel isn't taking on water.

I always say that churches would be fine but for the humans involved in them. My experience was such that I came to think that too many parishioners try to fill insecure places by using church positions and alliances to fulfill their needs instead of letting their faith in God lead them to a better state of being.

What can I say? I believed what I was taught in Sunday School and I no longer saw it at work in that particular church.
Yes, that's the thing: walking the walk. If the organization does not reflect its teachings, or, in the case of many Protestant congregations, Biblical teachings, then what's the point?
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Kishkumen wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:43 am
Yes, that's the thing: walking the walk. If the organization does not reflect its teachings, or, in the case of many Protestant congregations, Biblical teachings, then what's the point?
Walking the walk. You clearly understand my meaning.

I want to say what the little thing was but first some of the incidents that seemed larger to me. In order of occurrence. 1) The way leaders spoke about LDS. 2) the fact that they refused to participate in a Christmas community event with LDS for which I was organizer. 3)The obnoxious approach they took to a fundraising drive. I raised my hand, stood up, and spoke up more than once on behalf of LDS. In fairness, I would have done it for similar comments made about any other faith group. My children were listening. LDS were our friend. LDS were regular visitors to our VBS program and visitors to our worship services. LDS were contributors to our offering plates. What if they had heard what our leaders were saying?

I try hard to check myself for hypocrisy. I don't deal with it well in myself or others.

The straw.

A young mother in the church who took on a children's preschool choir ministry asked me to help her. I had taught her first child and was teaching the other at the time. I gladly aided her for 2 years. It wasn't one of those "keep the children busy" things. She taught them music theory, allowed them to experience adult instruments hands on, had a craft, a snack, prayer, and included a Bible story. When she saw that I was teaching preschoolers to sing and sign in my classrooms "D, come watch this!" We immediately added ASL to the church choir on account of the fact that preschoolers pick up ASL effortlessly in much the same way that they easily acquire differing spoken languages at that age. I had a mother teaching me, then I taught my class, then brought it to the choir. I'm talking quarterly performances during worship services as well here. A lot of effort went into that ministry.

When her husband received a job offer out of state, she needed to give up the ministry that she herself created. On her last night, I watched as parent after parent came to pick up their child, watched the youth director busily walking through the hallways with a smile plastered on her face, watched the Senior Pastor do the same. And when the room was empty we organized her things in dead silence. Finally, I asked her, "D, did anyone thank you?" And she went to tears and said "No". Of course I sat down and talked to her about all she had done, her devotion, and thanked her. Of course I did!

The next Wednesday I got a call at home asking me where I was and why wasn't I there for choir. I said, "D resigned. I thought we were done." "Well, we thought you would take over." " When were you planning to ask me that?" "Well we just thought..." and so on. Yeah, no. Wasn't having it. Wasn't enabling it either.

The sheer lack of appreciation or personally expressed thanks for a job well done. The rude assumption that was made regarding my personal time. Oh wait, the church did give her a gift card to Olive Garden prior. But that, in my mind, doesn't replace the personal touch of an embrace or eye to eye heartfelt thanks from parents or leaders. Not even close.

That was it. No one should be in tears in church unless they are tears of gratitude or if they are in emotional/spiritual pain. The pain shouldn't be coming from the church itself!

D's last night turned out to be my last night, too.
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Re: 9/11 Impact on my Faith

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Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:54 am
When the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were struck by terrorist-hijacked planes, I was still an active member of the LDS Church. I would remain an active member of the LDS Church for another 6 years. Sure, I was aware of problems with the history. I was already persuaded that the Book of Mormon was not an ancient text. Still, I believed in fundamental teachings about charity, forgiveness, etc. There was a lot that I liked about the LDS Church.

My departure was complicated. I can't point to just one thing. What I would like to do, however, is say something about the role that 9/11 had in my disaffection from the LDS Church. Maybe no one else looked at things in this way, or was impacted by those events in the way that I was, but in my estimation my desire to affiliate with the LDS Church was deeply impacted by the 9/11 attacks.

First, you should know that, for better or worse, I voted for George W. Bush. I came to regret that over time, and I was troubled by the events in Supreme Court and in Florida that secured his victory over Al Gore. But, I did cast a vote for W, albeit in California, which went heavy for Gore anyway. OK, I knew that my vote had no great practical impact on anything, but I have always taken my responsibility to vote very seriously. When the Twin Towers were struck, for a while I felt relieved that I had voted for W. In retrospect I had no good reason to feel relieved by my choice. Again, California. When Bush rallied Americans and promised to strike back at the terrorists, I felt a visceral hometeam pride that we would get our revenge.

It was when there started to be rumblings about the role of Iraq in 9/11 that I was first really unsettled. Honestly, I just didn't believe that Iraq had anything significant to do with 9/11. It didn't make sense. Moreover, the thought of initiating yet another serious war on the other side of the world just seemed like a bad idea. The evidence against Iraq was dubious, the prospects for success dubious. By the time we invaded Iraq, I was convinced it was a bad idea and probably a trumped up war. I could not believe that we were doing something so risky and consequential based on such flimsy evidence.

And here is where I get to the LDS Church part. The Church, of course, was very supportive of these wars. This should be no big surprise, but I think it was my conviction that the Iraq War was such a bad idea that was founded on faulty or false evidence, that really started to alienate me from the leaders of the LDS Church and my fellow members. You see, I saw the Church cozy up to the Bush administration, and I saw conservative members of the Church increasingly as loudmouthed ideologues who were blindly in favor of a bad war and not sufficiently concerned about the impact of 9/11 and our wars on our financial future as a country and our freedoms as citizens. I recall one particular low point when BYU gave Dick Cheney an honorary degree. By this point in time, that really sickened me.

So when the Church decided to mobilize for Prop 8, I was already in a very bad place with the LDS Church. It was this further conservative political activity against gay marriage that did me in. As a descendant of polygamists, I found it the very height of hypocrisy for the LDS Church to push the definition of a "one man/one woman" marriage in a fight against gay marriage. I started to get tired of the LDS Church playing both sides of various issues. Sure, they won't repudiate polygamy, but gay people sure as hell shouldn't infringe on "one man/one woman marriage"!

If 9/11 helped significantly to erode the line between politics and religion at church meetings, then Prop 8 removed any remaining barriers. What I perceived was the LDS Church's strong alignment with the GOP and with cultural "conservatives" of the Religious Right. Obviously the members bearing testimonies of George W. Bush and against gay marriage saw exactly the same thing. Personally, I did not a person with my values being comfortable in that place. The fact that we had moved to the South did not help. Southern Mormons seemed to be a lot more like their Bible belt cousins than Mormons in other areas of the country where I had previously attended church.

I hope everyone understands that this is an autobiographical story. It is a story of my perceptions and my recollections. It is not sociological work that seeks to explain disaffection from Mormonism on political grounds as a phenomenon. All I can say is that for me, 9/11 was a significant event that put me on a course that took me out of the LDS Church. It is not the case that I felt I had ceased to be Mormon as a result. What I lost was any real sense that I needed to be concerned about the leadership of the LDS Church and the opinions of other LDS people.
I think in retrospect most all of us view the invasion of Iraq as having been a bad choice.

I have a friend who is gay and was raised in the church and I had the same thought about the church's history of polygamy. I personally tend toward a more biblical view of homosexuality and I believe that if the LDS church has the same convictions on the matter, then the church should stick with its convictions. However, I can see how evading the polygamy issue while taking such a strong stance on gay marriage is a problem.

You stated, "The fact that we had moved to the South did not help. Southern Mormons seemed to be a lot more like their Bible belt cousins than Mormons in other areas of the country where I had previously attended church."
I'm curious, please elaborate, if you wish. :)
"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19 ESV

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