Familjen Erlingssons utträdesbrev ur Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sista Dagars Heliga; Salt Lake

http://xmo.lege.net/xit/erlingsson/saltlake/


<Our full names, dates of birth, address, email>

Date: Mar 15, 2004

Greg Dodge, Supervisor, Confidential Records Section
Member and Statistical Records Division
Thirteenth Floor
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-3684
United States of America
+1 801-240-2053


RE: Resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This letter constitutes our formal resignations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they are effective immediately. We hereby withdraw our consent to being treated as members of the church and we withdraw our consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs and discipline. As we are no longer members of the church, we are therefore not liable nor subject to excommunication or any similar proceeding in the courts of the church. Therefore we request that you send us official written notification that none of us have been excommunicated or disfellowshipped from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that we are no longer members of said church by our own free will and choice, and that the sole reason for removing our names from the membership records is our request.

We have given this matter considerable thought. We understand what you consider the seriousness and the consequences of our actions. We are aware that the church handbook says that our resignation "cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings". We also understand that any one of us will be "readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview". (Quotes from the 1999 Church Handbook of Instructions.)

Our resignations should be processed immediately, without any waiting periods. We are not going to be dissuaded and we are not going to change our minds.

We are asking for a simple administrative procedure under our legal right to practice freedom of religion as defined by Swedish law 1998:1593 "om trossamfund" issued Nov, 26, 1998, "Allmänna bestämmelser om trossamfund", paragraph 3 , that states "Ingen är skyldig att tillhöra något trossamfund. Ett avtal eller löfte som strider mot denna bestämmelse är ogiltigt." This is Swedish for exactly the same rights offered to Americans through your constitutional right to practice freedom of religion. We have the exact same legal protection, in this regard. We therefore expect this matter to be handled promptly and with full confidentiality. If our friends, family or neighbors learn of our resignation through anyone but ourselves, we will consider it an invasion of privacy and we will consider taking legal action against the church. Likewise if the church initiates or starts rumors of any kind of disciplinary actions against any one of us. Remember, we are no longer members.

BACKGROUND

First we want to say that it grieves us to have to express ourselves so sternly and legal to our friends as we do above, but we see this as a necessary precaution in light of the experiences of many other former members with the disciplinary actions of the church. It is thus a pure precaution on our side, we have not in any way yet experienced anything negative in our own relationship with the church, and we feel that there is not really any reason why we should have to expect anything like that from our friends, but we simply dare not chance it. Other members have had the best friendly relationships with both their stake president, their bishop and sometimes even with one or several general authorities, and still gotten in trouble. Thus we take no chances.

Friends, because you are really our friends. We love all brothers and sisters in the church. We are all children of Heavenly Father. And we love you all. In our own ward, we have only the best relationships with all members, and we especially want to emphasize what a wonderful ward it is. We have always had a special love and felt a special warmth especially to the Hägersten ward. There is a special wonderful familiar love there, that cannot be denied.

This big love that we feel and receive makes this decision all the more painful, but absolutely necessary. None of us have through sin made ourselves unworthy of the temple. The only "sin" we have committed is that we have started to think independently. It was Leif that first started to think, but a number of weeks ago Ylva also discovered the circumstances that Leif had uncovered. Later the whole family have discussed these.

Independent thinking started for Leif with the realization that the leaders of the church has made it into a virtue for us, not to know, not to hear and not to understand any of the political processes of evil, in the world. In April 2003 the spiritual leader of the church had expressed himself in disparaging terms about those who protests against war and against the political leaders, while at the same time his homeland was in serious breach of international law and had also abolished basic human and civic rights in breach of international law. And on April 21, 2003, our stake president warned us all, in our stake, in very strong words against criticizing the leaders of the church, and said that they will never lead us astray. Our stake president also said that we should not spend so much time on the world, but rather worry more about our own conversion.

Later Leif's missionary, whom we always kept in contact with, compared Leif's warnings with anti-Mormon literature and Leif with Satan himself when he deceives Eve with knowledge. The background was that Leif among other information had pointed at a Human Rights Watch report about serious human rights violations especially conducted by certain American units, because the former missionary have many contacts in the U.S. military. Leif had pointed out how no American are obliged to obey illegal orders. As an American soldier you even hade the protection of American law if you for example disobey an order to kill an innocent family. Also many other members reacted extremely powerfully and more or less ceased to be friends with Leif after Leif had voiced warnings concerning extremely serious human rights violations performed by the regime they themselves perceived as the proverbial champion of good on earth. It should be admitted that Leif felt an extreme sense of frustration concerning the fact that nobody understood what really happened and is happening. And he expressed this frustration. But never did he compare any member to the Devil or anything any member wrote to anti-Mormon literature.

Near the end of last year, 2003, Leif decides that he must get to grips with where such an enormously emotionally charged resistance to truth telling even among Swedish Latter-day Saints stems from. A very old item of information searches it way up through his consciousness, something he read in a footnote 14 years previously. Something about a conflict between the spiritual leaders of the church and it's historians.

On the political plane, Leif has taught himself to see straight through propaganda. He becomes disgusted every time he sees it. He can see what it does to the minds of people. It turns off intelligence, it makes people not see the evil. Consider Hitler-Germany. And now he discovers that the church itself practices an even more stringent propaganda. In 1985, Dallin H. Oaks explained at a conference for Church educators that balance is telling both sides and that this is not the mission of the official Church literature or avowedly anti-Mormon literature. Neither has any responsibility to present both sides, he said. Boyd K. Packer had already 1981 at the conference for Church educators said that the church is not neutral, that the church is one-sided. And already in 1976 he explained privately to an historian at the church's university that he have a hard time with historians because the truth is so important for them. He said that the truth is not uplifting but that it destroys. And that historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.

Since the church propaganda want to stop us from discovering the whole truth, Leif felt that he must perform a renewed investigation of the church's basic history. And realizing that the church manipulates and hides unpleasant information, such an investigation must needs be performed using sources also wholly outside the control of the church and it's apologetics. Leif has for many years been a member of FARMS; Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, now at BYU. Through it's writings Leif already have a thorough knowledge of how the church and it's apologetics defend the positions of the church. But since he hasn't read the viewpoints of the critic's since 1992 he really has a very dim understanding for why some positions at all need defending. This understanding soon becomes abundantly clear. Together with the realization that the defense of FARMS and others are too weak. Doesn't hold up.

Leif also discovers that the church can be very insensitive. Perhaps especially this applies to Apostles. Lavina Fielding Anderson, who herself was excommunicated because she wrote about these cases of spiritual abuse from the church, runs Mormon Alliance, whose stated purpose is to promote healing and closure for its survivors, to build more sensitive leadership, to empower LDS members to participate with more authenticity in Mormonism, and to foster a healthier religious community. Through the Internet Leif has taken part of a large number of Case Reports concerning spiritual abuse within the church, that often, very often, involves Apostles. Apparently it is also quite common that sexual abuse in the church is hidden and covered up, and that one blames the victims. [ http://mormonalliance.org/SiteMap.htm ] There's even been statements in general conference saying that the victims may share part of the responsibility for the abuse. And that it's best just to forget and go on. There's even been a case where sexual abuse in the family of a general authority have been hidden and covered up.

In 1992 Leif wrote a warm defense for his spiritual testimony irrespective of worldly proof in his diary.

In 2004 Leif finally felt that he no longer must defend faith against the truth. Rather he felt like J. Reuben Clark, First Presidency member, who once said that ``If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.''

Leif at last let go of his dogmatic spasmodic effort to interpret everything according to a given pattern. And he started a very extensive study, that resulted in thousands of printed out pages of text in half a dozen thick covers and a number of important books ordered and read. Books that hadn't been censored by the church. Books by professional historians. Books with sources not cleared by the church. Because through the Elders Ezra Taft Benson and Boyd K. Packer, the church closed their archives from open research from June 1986, and after that it became necessary to permit the church to freely censor in that which one was planning to publish, in order to be granted continuous access to the archives. Happily a small number or historians had managed to do extensive research in the archives before this date, and have been able to publish uncensored real history books, despite church censorship. There are also sources completely outside the church's control. And once one has let go of the thought that everything must be cleared by the church in order for one to dare to take part of it, there is of course nothing stopping one from taking part of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

In the course of all these intense studies, Ylva realized what it was that Leif was studying. She had not reacted earlier because Leif's political interest had in a similar fashion generated huge amounts of paper, etc.

Leif therefore performed an oral presentation of what he had concluded so far. Leif and Ylva continued the intense studies together. After another few weeks of these studies it was quite clear to us that the church isn't what it purports to be. That the church for one thing doesn't only stand for good. And for another thing, the early leaders was everything but morally impeccable, with "spiritual wifes" already married to other men, with marriages with minors, etc, etc. And it wasn't platonic love. One can find out about some of the details using FamilySearch, if one removes ones blinders. Not everything is there, some marriages was kept secret. But there are independent historians who have written uncensored about this subject. A system of lies and fraud was also put into system in the church in order to cover up things that would not stand scrutiny of daylight. Which by the way continued during the time between the first and second polygamy manifesto, when the leaders of the church secretly continued to wed polygamously, and lied about it in public. Of this our opinion is with Dallin H. Oaks at the last general conference (October 2003) that ``Some cultures allow lying, stealing, and other dishonest practices. But dishonesty in any form -- whether to appease, to save face, or to get gain -- is in direct conflict with gospel commandments and culture. God is a God of truth, and God does not change. We are the ones who must change. And that will be a big change for all whose traditions accustom them to thinking that they can lie a little, cheat a little, or engage in deceit whenever it brings personal advantage and is not likely to be detected.''

But everything so far enumerated are human faults and weaknesses -- including all the racists that have been leaders of the church from Brigham Young to Ezra Taft Benson. We might even be able to swallow that the leaders of the church obviously lack any particular spiritual discernment over and above what humans generally have.

What finally makes it morally and ethically impossible to stay are the barn-door-sized holes in the church's historical justifications for it's theology at the same time as it is regularly preached from the general conference pulpits that independent thinking is a sin (you then sin by pride, ex. Ezra Taft Benson, ``Beware of Pride,'', April 1, 1989, where we find that we are enemies to God when we assert our own powers of comprehension against the leaders of the church, which has later been repeated in many contexts). With David O. McKay we maintain that ``Ours is the responsibility ... to proclaim the truth that each individual is a child of God and important in his sight; that he is entitled to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly; that he has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. In this positive declaration, we imply that organizations or churches which deprive the individual of these inherent rights are not in harmony with God's will nor with his revealed word.'' [124th Annual Conference, p. 24.] But by wanting to bring up difficult subjects to discussion with other Latter-day Saints one is today viewed as a trouble-maker, and runs the risk of becoming subject to disciplinary punishments and excommunication. Quite a number of former Latter-day Saints testify of this. We have ourselves since a short time contact with some of them, a contact that we to be on the safe side have kept secret since it is yet another thing that the church wants to prohibit (see item 7 in Temple Recommend Questions; "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?"). And finally, our stake president has warned everyone in our stake in very strong words not to criticize the leaders of the church.

We cannot be part of an organization that consciously lies, and consciously misleads it's members, if we are not allowed to voice a dissenting view without risking spiritual persecution and disciplinary actions. The leaders of the church have at least since January 4, 1922, when B. H. Roberts presented a detailed summary of textual and historical problems with the Book of Mormon before a combined meeting of the First Presidency, apostles, and Seventy's presidents, been aware that there are serious objections against the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Even if they perhaps later have repressed this knowledge. (In 1992 these manuscripts and more was published as B. H. Roberts "Studies of the Book of Mormon", also see http://mormonstudies.com/). One knows that there are far too many internally contradicting versions of the First Vision (detailed explanation: http://irr.org/mit/fvision.html). One knows that the scientific proofs doesn't exactly indicate that Joseph Smith had any particular gift to translate when it comes to e.g. The Book of Abraham (video: http://bookofabraham.info/ and book: http://irr.org/mit/Book-of-Abraham-page.html). Smith also was trapped in a trap when he "translated" the so called Kinderhook plates. The tricksters said all along that it was a hoax, but Joseph Smith and the church claimed for 130 years that the plates really was ancient, until modern testing showed them to be from the 1800's. Then one instead claimed that Joseph Smith's scribe had made a mistake (detailed explanation: http://irr.org/mit/kinderhook-plates.html). Finally one are painting a rosy image of Joseph Smith's character, without openly accounting for neither his promiscuity (see ex. http://irr.org/mit/enigma.html), nor his plans for world dominion and treason (see ex. http://signaturebooks.com/hier1.htm).

A tangible example of information that the church consciously is misleading members about: With the words of Lavina Fielding Anderson, editor for the Journal of Mormon History, ``the [Newell and Avery] biography of Emma Hale Smith was deeply disturbing to me for the documentation it provided about Joseph Smith and the origins of polygamy . . . . Let me be specific. I was shocked and disgusted to discover that Joseph Smith married a fourteen-year-old girl, fully consummated that marriage, and concealed it from Emma. My image of "prophet" did not accommodate this kind of behavior. I could not begin to find holy motives for such behavior ("The Garden God Hath Planted: Explorations Toward a Maturing Faith," in Sunstone, October 1990, 26-27).''

The example is also interesting in that the above enumerated names are more or less a list of excommunicated members. It is not possible to say or write the truth about the church's history without running the risk of disciplinary measures.

Now we want you to understand that despite everything we still retain our spiritual testimonies. Neither do we deny anything of these testimonies. We have felt and still do feel all those feelings. The church have been a very big blessing in our lives, and we feel a big gratitude. But a spiritual testimony of the spiritual truths in the gospel -- and these spiritual truths are largely true because Joseph Smith had a lot of inspiration from God and other inspired men when he was putting together his own version of the gospel -- a spiritual testimony of all these truths cannot erase the reality that the leaders of the church are hypocrites when they on the one hand are saying from the pulpit that ``dishonesty in any form -- whether to appease, to save face, or to get gain -- is in direct conflict with gospel commandments and culture'', but on the other side teach that the church has no responsibility to present a balanced view of itself, and through threats and intimidation propaganda frighten members to obedience and silence.

We cannot in honesty have our names associated with any kind of society with this moral view. Not even should it be God himself preaching this message of hypocrisy, etc. An already married woman who rejected Joseph Smith's proposal are supposed to have said to the prophet that she'd rather be a chaste woman in hell than a whore in the celestial kingdom. In that case, we would prefer to receive a telestial glory with honest and decent people rather than a possible celestial glory with hypocrites and liars.

We have had a family home evening and several conversations with our children Jared and Josefine where we in a simple manner have explained about some of the church's lies, and how it doesn't want us to find out the truth.

We do all feel a great grief over the fact that the church wasn't what we thought it was, what we have tried to "endure to the end" for. It is an immensely heavy work of mourning. We also understand that this will result in a big work of mourning for many other very good people. And perhaps angry and hard feelings. More dogmatically inclined persons will no doubt decide that we were bad people at the core, and that we never really had any testimony. They are of course wrong, but that isn't something anyone can do anything about. Some will tell themselves that we really were sinners or that we deep-down wanted to sin. They are also wrong. We want nothing more than that the church should be true and good in all respects. But once Pandora's box have been opened, there is no closing it again. Once one has judged the evidence without mental blinders, there is no turning back again without oneself becoming a hypocrite We feel that we cannot do that, irrespective all the love we feel to the members of the ward and toward all other sisters and brothers in the church.

Therefore we are no longer members of the church.


With all Love,




The above signatures have been witnessed by us, the hereunder undersigned:



cc: Bishop First Lastname            Email:   email@address.se
    Streetaddress                    Mobile:  +46-76-000-0000
    Zip and City                     Home Ph: +46-8-000-0000
    Sweden

    Stake President First Lastname   Email:
    Streetaddress                    email@address.se
    Zip and City                     Home Ph: +46-8-0000-0000
    Sweden



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