Friday, July 31, 2015


"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense."
--Chapman Cohen

It seems that I am not the only person having fun arguing with religious people on Facebook. A friend of mine, who has also left Mormonism, recently posted his thoughts on the current debacle between the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the fallout of which has devout Mormons squirming.

For years the BSA has been wrestling with its policies which discriminate against gays. Some revisions came down the pike a year or so ago, thus allowing openly gays kids to participate in the program without being kicked out. This caused a bit of a stir among Mormons at the time, but now, apparently, they are claiming that they were in support of this revision all along. I have some gay ex-Mormon friends who might challenge this claim...

At any rate, the question now is whether or not openly gay men can be leaders in the organization. In typical religious fashion--standing in opposition to facts and reason--Mormons are upset that the BSA has recently reversed their outdated discriminatory policy, which will allow gay men to be scout leaders.

Their objection, which they hold to be doctrinal, and therefore, a form of religious liberty, is that it is inappropriate for gay men to be leaders of youth groups. Apparently Mormons still think that gays try to "recruit" teens and that homosexuality is closely linked to pedophilia--both of these misconceptions are dispelled by science.

As my friend points out, Mormons have no problem with straight men overseeing Girl's Camp (the lesser-funded female version of Scout Camp). Nor do they object that these same men ask male and female teens--behind closed doors--intimate questions about their sex lives. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Although I have huge problems with religious-based bigotry, I do agree that the Mormon Church has the right to exclude gays from their organization (for the same reasons that the KKK can refuse to allow black people in their group). Unfortunately for Mormons, however, the BSA is not justified in their discrimination since they are a multicultural organization which receives government kickbacks, and financial stipends.

For instance, the BSA is allowed free access to hundreds of military personnel and millions of dollars of equipment--paid for with tax dollars--for their annual national jamboree. Also, many of the Boy Scout facilities and camps are on government-owned property and the BSA is charged a lowly $1 a year for rent.

These are major perks which other youth programs and nonprofits are not afforded by the government. This kind of support is the reason so many people are calling for a revision in the BSA's discriminatory policies. The Mormon Church is free to discriminate, but the government is not.

In response to all the hubbaballoo, the Mormon Church has issued a statement that, should the BSA go through with this change (allowing gay Scout leaders), then the Church will withdraw from the BSA and start their own scouting program. This will be a major blow to the BSA since the Mormon Church is their single largest supporter (approximately 25-30% of all scout troops are Mormon-run). This has been one major reason why the BSA has been so reluctant to change their policy.

The magnitude of the Mormon-BSA relationship is precisely what the Mormon Church relies upon when making the threat to withdraw from the BSA. Mormons are known for many things (some less favorable than others), one of which is sticking with their principles. They are also known for managing money well.

Should the Mormon Church withdraw all support and sever all ties with the BSA (a relationship about 100 years old, by the way), then whatever scouting substitute the Church devises will NOT receive the same government support as the BSA. This means that Mormons will spend significantly more money to run their scouting program.

It is because of this unavoidable monetary spike that I think the Mormon Church is bluffing. I think they will not pull the trigger on their threats of disassociation. I think they are trying to create a power play to strong-arm the BSA. Should the BSA go through with their policy change, I strongly doubt the Mormon Church will make good on their promise to withdraw--the financial stakes are too high. But, only time will tell.

In the post my ex-Mormon friend wrote on his Facebook page he mentioned that he had left the Church. And from out of the woodwork crawled some of his devout Mormon friends, hellbent on defending Mormonism and, if possible, saving my friend in the process.

One Mormon devotee wrote an especially pretentious and closed-minded response to my friend, [N]:

"I know that somewhere deep down inside of you, [N], that you remember why you "used" to believe. I know that you remember feelings and promptings that you had, I remember perfectly hearing you talk about them. I remember listening to you testify of the very things that you try to tear down with logic. I know that you know, however buried that may be by emotions, pain, or whatever else it could be that God does exist. The bottom line is something convinced you that there was a God and that everything you taught as a missionary was true. You had a testimony and still do. If you choose to bury those memories than that is fine. But just as you desire to point out your opinion so do I. I cannot deny the very real feelings that I have had in my life. The confirmations that there is a God and he loves us. No matter what information someone provides. I will always know. I love you [N], and I hope that you know that I always have your best interest in mind."

I have never heard a more condescending, presumptive, or closed-minded testimony. Not only does this person claim to "know" that there is a god and that my unbelieving friend likewise "knows" this, but this person states that "No matter what information someone provides," he will always know that god exists.

This is the definition of closed-minded. But in Mormon culture this phrasing is seen as admirably strong conviction. Too bad he doesn't support his claim that his super strong feelings are indicative of god. Too bad no one ever has.

Another Mormon friend of my friend wrote a rather wordy response, so I won't post it here. In his word-salad, he made an interesting point I have not heard in a while. He related the struggle for gay rights to the 1978 change which allowed black Mormons to attain the priesthood.

He said that a possible reason why blacks were not allowed to have the priesthood before 1978 is because members were not yet ready for such a drastic change. To him this is more plausible than the common criticism that the Church only made the change because of societal pressures, as they seem to have done on the issue of polygamy (polygamy was endorsed by the Church for decades; it was not until the Mormons sought to make Utah a state that they abolished the practice; also, the US government threatened to confiscate millions of dollars of Mormon assets should they continue polygamy, much like they currently threaten Fundamentalist Mormons who still practice polygamy). 

The idea that Mormons were "not ready" to allow blacks to have the priesthood before 1978 does not speak favorably of Mormons at the time. The civil rights movement picked up a lot of steam in the 50s and 60s. What does it say about Mormons if they were behind the times by over a decade? Now that gay marriage is legal, how long will it take for the Church to catch up and once again claim moral superiority and exclusive access to divine revelation and prophecy?

Aron Ra was right; god moves in mysterious and delirious ways...


Coheed and Cambria performing Supreme Court Justice Scalia's "dissent" on gay marriage:

Thursday, July 30, 2015


"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
--Richard Dawkins

Through a conversation, which started innocently enough, I learned that a nurse with whom I work believes that dinosaurs are not real. She admitted to me that she holds "some strange beliefs" before explaining her "theory" that dinosaurs are a man-made conspiracy. So, on some level, perhaps, she recognizes that this belief is ridiculous.

When I challenged her on this point (by pointing out that evolution and the age of the earth have been confirmed independently through multiple scientific fields), she began spinning her reconciliation wheels at full throttle. Dinosaurs, she explained, cannot be real because that would mean that the earth is millions of years old, and that, in turn, would mean that the bible is wrong.

Oh, the bible. What else could screw up a person's perception of reality so magnificently?

This thirty-something woman not only attended nursing classes, which surely would have included biology, but she passed with high enough scores to be allowed by the nursing community to administer medical care.

Why is this a big deal? Is a belief in evolution and dinosaurs and an "old earth" really necessary to be an effective nurse? I don't know. But I do know that the antibiotic pill she gave to a patient two minutes prior to her ludicrous admission would not have been developed without those scientific theories being understood by the scientists who developed it.

Furthermore, this nurse is a member of the medical community, yet, she rejects a founding principle of one of the most basic fields of science. She believes that scientists are engaged in a global conspiracy to make the earth appear older than six thousand years. Think about this. An airtight, decades-old global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists across multiple fields--in multiple countries and cultures and religions--is more plausible to this woman than the possibility that the bible might not be literally true. And we allow her to give antipsychotic medications to children...

This is the power of religious faith. This is the power of beliefs based on feelings rather than evidence. Not only must the believer protect their beliefs from criticism, but at times they are forced--usually through exposure to evidence to the contrary--to concoct outlandish and baseless ideas to barricade their core beliefs.

It is this powerful corruption of one's reasoning faculties which drives an otherwise reasonable woman, who has studied science and medicine, to throw out her reason when it conflicts with her belief that a Bronze Age holy book is literally true. When I caught myself doing this very same thing in college, I realized my error and rejected faith altogether.

Without evidence-based support, beliefs should be tentative. When beliefs are supported by evidence, they are not based on faith. When evidence conflicts with a belief, it should be reevaluated, and possibly rejected. In either case, faith is useless. And no amount of conviction makes faith evidence.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


"Given this overwhelming tendency to stupidity and selfishness in myself and among our species, it is somewhat surprising to find the light of reason penetrating at all. The brilliant Schiller was wrong in his Joan of Arc when he said that "against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." It is actually by means of the gods that we make our stupidity and gullibility into something ineffable. 
--Christopher Hitchens, god is Not Great

In recent weeks I have been overwhelmed by the stupidity which surrounds me. Sure, I am often surrounded by ever-dimming light bulbs in the cluttered shelf that is my job. I expect this; I can manage this. What I am referring to is an influx of stupidity from people who should really know better.

Those who have read my posts from the last few weeks will note my struggle on Facebook in dealing with Mormon friends and family who oppose gay marriage. It has been exhausting.

One of the more distressing annoyances has been people throwing clever-sounding one-liners at me, as if it should automatically shut me down. Inane lines such as "hate the sin, not the sinner," or "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith," or "I find more and more that I am not allowed to criticize those who oppose traditional values," or "The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center," or “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

My blood boils further when I address their comment intelligently, or simply ask them to explain their position in more detail (i.e. The Socratic Method), and they drop out of the conversation all together. What does it say about a person's argument if they turn tail and run when asked to explain themselves?

Having thought a while longer about the phrase "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith," which was popularized in Mormon culture a couple of General Conferences ago, I realize that many people do not really understand what is being said by it. "Doubt your doubts" implies a level of investigation.

For instance, if I hear that the Book of Mormon contains archaeological inconsistencies which fly in the face of what scientists say about ancient America, I might begin to have doubts about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as an accurate historical record. To "doubt my doubts" in this instance would mean that I would look at the research on the subject and then draw a conclusion. It may be that such anachronisms are not really in conflict with known history; but if they are, research should reveal this. If a conflict exists, I would want to know.

Many believers reject such troublesome inquisitions out of hand. They have a knee jerk reaction to opposition. I think this is where the sound-bite arguments come in to play. They build up a superficial wall around their pet beliefs. When their shallow wall starts to crumble, they cower.

One underhanded argument which is occasionally presented to me is that "one can leave the church, but one cannot leave the church alone." This is meant to be insulting. This is meant to get under the skin of the doubter. In this way, it attempts to validate the believer's scripture-based assumption that non-believers do not exist--they are merely rebelling against god's commandments, which are written on the hearts of men.

This is childish. This is no better than non-believers claiming that believers only believe to make themselves feel better. This is no way to live in a civilized society.

The accusation that people who leave religion, such as myself, continue to criticize it because they are trying to convince themselves that they don't believe, when, in fact, they really do, is nonsensical. In a strange way, it reminds me of a trend I have noticed at my work. I have worked in social services for many years, and every so often troubled teens admit to me that when they grow up they also want to work in social services.

Many of them are victims of physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, usually some combination of all of them. As the kids understand how therapeutic practices can help abuse victims find peace and methods of coping, they feel the need to assist other victims in the process. Their desire to be a therapist or psychologist or counselor is motivated by their empathy.

This is analogous to people who leave religion with a bad taste in their mouths. I do not continue to criticize Mormonism because deep down I believe it is true. I criticize Mormonism because I believe it is a harmful ideology. I have seen the harm of Mormonism in my own life and in the lives of those close to me, many of whom are still entrapped by it.

The harm of Mormonism may not be as overt as the psychological trauma caused by abuse. But the way such a life-encompassing theology warps a believer's perception of reality and confuses sound methods of attaining knowledge with subjective feelings attributed to god, thereby fooling believers to accept as true ridiculous claims for which they have no evidence, suggests a pervasive corruption of the mind every bit as deep as abuse. And it will take more than clever soundbites to expunge this smiley-faced evil from society.


Christopher Hitchens on the harm of religion:

Christopher Hitchens responds to a stupid question:

Thursday, July 9, 2015


"The Christian resolve to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the arguments I have heard recently attempting to rationalize why the Mormon god does not allow gays to act on their homosexual urges is that he is putting them through a sort of "test." Mormons see homosexuality as a weakness or temptation, akin to an addiction or a bad habit, over which one must gain control.

The problem with this--the first problem--is that homosexuality is much more than simply an urge. It is a biological drive. Mormons believe that heterosexuals also have this drive, but heterosexuals are given an avenue to use it "appropriately." For a Mormon, there is no appropriate way for a homosexual to "control" their sexual urges except through homosexual celibacy.

For straight Mormons there are stages of appropriate sexual behavior. For example, unmarried straight couples are free to hold hands, kiss (in moderation) and even cuddle. Sex is prohibited, but only until marriage, at which point they are free to have sex as often as they want.

Gay Mormons, on the other hand, are not afforded the same gradation. It is not just about gay sex. It is also about gay hand holding, gay kissing, and gay cuddling. Mormons think of themselves as accepting of gays. But they fail to understand the basic biological and psychological need--and it is a need--to have sexual release and love.

I have heard Mormons say "We prohibit all forms of premarital sex, including heterosexual premarital sex; therefore, we ask nothing different of gays." To these Mormons, this means that both heterosexuals and homosexuals are treated equally within the church. But they completely miss all the basic forms of affection that come before sex, which the church prohibits for homosexuals, but not heterosexuals. It is not just about sex.

For many years the church refused to even acknowledge the existence of homosexuals, claiming that such debauchery was just a form of heterosexual rebellion. They called it a choice. And as a choice, it was a sin.

Now that the scientific evidence shows pretty darn conclusively that homosexuality is not a choice, the church is spinning the angle that it is not a sin to be homosexual; just acting on homosexual urges is sinful. Well, this is about the most wicked thing a god could do to a person.

Keep in mind, that since Mormons view homosexuality as a trial or temptation meant to test one's ability to obey god, this also means that god chose to give this particular "trial" to particular people. God could have just as easily chosen to not have homosexuals. Why didn't he? Why would he give someone an urge as basic as the sex drive, and command them on threat of damnation that they cannot ever act on it?

This is not love. This is not a test of character. This is torture. This is abuse.

According to Mormons there are three "degrees" in heaven: the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom. According to the Book of Mormon (which, curiously, mentions nothing about these kingdoms), sexual sins are the worst sins a person can commit after murder and denying the Holy Spirit.

In the case of denying the Holy Spirit, the transgressor will be sent to "outer darkness," which basically amounts to annihilation. There is some debate within Mormonism as to what it means to deny the Holy Spirit; so, as an ex-Mormon who has been through the temple endowment ceremony, I may or may not qualify.

The worst murders, first-degree premeditated murders, will send one to the Telestial Kingdom. Lesser murders, such as manslaughter through neglect, may afford one an opportunity to repent and go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. This is not well defined in Mormon doctrine, however.

Depending on the severity of the offense and one's level of repentance, sexual sins will either send a person to the Telestial Kingdom or, if one repents hard enough, to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Only the most repentant sexual sinners (to a level where god says "it never happened") will be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom. This means if one does it a couple times, but they are super sorry (to god) and never do it again, they might make it.

To my knowledge, the church has not explicitly stated what "degree" in heaven a homosexual can attain. I would imagine that should a homosexual manage to stay in a straight marriage and suppress all homosexual urges (which is not recommended by psychologists at all), they can make it to the highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom.

If they remain celibate for their entire lives, or at least show sufficient penance for engaging in homosexual activities, they can make it to the bottom of the Celestial Kingdom (meaning they make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but they don't get the perk of an eternal family and eternal sex; this means that a truly celibate gay Mormon will literally never have sex--ever). Anyone who engages in any homosexual activities without repenting will not make it to the Celestial Kingdom, and possibly not even the Terrestrial Kingdom.

Gay Mormons know that the best they can hope for in this life is either a straight marriage or a life of celibacy. Should they act on their homosexual urges in the same way heterosexual Mormons are allowed, they will likely only make it to the lowest Kingdom (Telestial). Worst of all, for those headed to the Telestial Kingdom (those gay Mormons who cannot help but act on their powerful sexual urges), suicide will not change the outcome. This is why many gay Mormons struggle with suicidal ideation. To them, suicide will just speed up the process of the inevitably of the Telestial Kingdom, and it will remove the persistent homosexual temptation they would face in this life.

This is only made worse when Mormon leaders promise that, like an addiction, homosexual urges can be overcome through fervent prayer. Some leaders have even taught that homosexuality can essentially be "cured" through enough prayer and scripture study. When this does not happen (as the scientific community clearly states), homosexual Mormons are caught in a self-perpetuating guilt cycle and are left wondering why god won't help them.

The short answer is "There is no god and homosexuality is not bad." This realization has freed many gay Mormons from the psychological shackles with which the church has tried to ensnare them. It really does remove all the guilt, the shame and the "final solution" gay Mormons face. Sure, some gay Mormons just leave Mormonism for a more progressive church. And on some level I am fine with this. At least they are no longer caught in the abusive center of the Mormon Church's attempts to reconcile their close-minded beliefs with science.


Cult of Dusty reviews a Mormon anti-masturbation video [WARNING: explicit language]:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Recently, I have been asked by friends for reference materials on homosexuality. So I figured I would post some good places to start.

For scientific materials, I would start with the American Psychological Association.

These are some of my posts, which focus on legal rights and the implications of Mormon doctrine:

Refracted Light
Lemon Test
Straight-and-Narrow Minded
Skip a Beating
Prop Hate
Morally Straight
It Gets Better

For those interested in the most current position of the Mormon church on homosexuality, they have created a site featuring gay Mormons who have found a way to stay active in the church (usually by smiling through a straight marriage). While there is some sound scientific information on this site (like information dispelling the myth that homosexuality is a choice), keep in mind that the church still only permits homosexuals to either marry some one of the opposite sex (i.e. Some one they are not sexually attracted to) or to be celibate for their whole lives. This causes a psychological dissonance many are unable to deal with while remaining in the church. And for good reason. Nonetheless, here is the site:

In contrast, here is a blog of a good friend of mine who tried to reconcile his homosexuality with his Mormon beliefs.

Here are some great clips from the Atheist Experience on homosexuality:

Here are some videos from the YouTube page "iamanexmormon." This first video features a middle aged man who tried gay reparative therapy through the Mormon church:

Here is a side project from columnist Dan Savage, the "It Gets Better Project," featuring videos of adult homosexuals and celebrities offering support and advice to young gays and lesbians facing opposition from family and friends:

There are also films like "Philadelphia," "Boys Don't Cry," and "Milk" which deal with homosexual issues. And, of course, the documentary "8: The Mormon Proposition" which exposes the Mormon church's political and financial influence on a bill in California which sought to make gay marriage illegal by changing the state's constitution. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


"The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example."
--Mark Twain

In my last post, "FUDGE PACKER," I wrote about my frustrations in dealing with my Mormon friends and family over the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. In my frustration, I changed my Facebook profile picture to a satirical photo of an anti-gay Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, whose words have contributed to prejudice against homosexuals which has forced many gay Mormon teens to live on the streets and, in some cases, to suicide.

The conversation which has resulted from my picture has been exhausting and frustrating. In the instances where I was misrepresented and stereotyped by people I care about, which were many, I became angry. Like, "screaming at the top of my lungs while riding my motorcycle to work" angry. But amid the madness and anger I was also bolstered by the supportive words of many people.

I want to share some of the more positive comments I received, some through private messages for fear of a similarly deteriorating conversation on their own pages.

[friend from high school]:
"Matt you are awesome, from the time I first got to know you, you are a hell of a wrestler and even more, a hell of a man! I agree with you who are we to judge how another human being lives their lives"

"Thank you Matt! You're what's right with the world"

[friend from high school]:
"Matt, may I just say, your bravery is remarkable. Thank you."

[same person, private message]:
"I need share my sincere gratitude for you. You get it. Life, God and all that we are here for. I never really knew you before as young people, but I am so glad to know you now. I guess I didn't understand me either then. Sad to see him say he think he knew me in high school...and to see him be a victim of circumstance. You truly have remarkable things to say and I've shared them with my Wife tonight. Keep it up friend."

[friend from BYU]:
"Matt! This pic is genius! You are hilarious. It's the perfect mix of pointed and poignant!"

[friend from BYU, private message]:
"Yeah, I was just reading the great debate and thought it was pretty crazy that he passed away in the middle of it. I'll say the conversation has been interesting. I took the picture more as satire, as you explained but I don't usually get offended (or dissappointed) by facebook posts"

[friend from high school]:
"I have to admit that I have been reading your profile pic discussion and I think it's really nice to see that you are willing to stick with your own beliefs and you provide very sound reasoning to back it up. I know that you are facing a lot of opposition regarding your profile pic choice but the discussions that have resulted from it can only be a good thing. The evolution of change regarding peoples views on these types of subjects is a very slow process but an open dialogue, with well thought responses, will only speed up the process of love and acceptance for all. Thank you."

[a religious leader from my youth]: 
"The whole discussion has definitely been interesting. I tend not to get too wrapped up in stuff like this. I like to keep up on current events, how the world turns and how we are responding to it. I can definitely see both sides of the discussion. I really think that when it comes down to it we have to remember we are children of a loving father in heaven. With that said we also need to remember that we need to treat others as such. - - - I will also add that I have fond memories of my interactions with Matt. He is a hard worker, dedicated and loves his family, friends and (I am sure not much has changed) always shown respect for those around him. In this case some have chosen to be offended. As [F] has said it has opened up a line of discussion and I do believe that in any instance that can not hurt. One of the beautiful things about this country is that you can stand toe to toe and discuss / argue different points of doctrine, policy, law and what have you without retribution. I think that Matt has some points that are worth looking into. I may not agree with his stance but I can respect it and show respect to him as he has owned it. That takes a certain type of courage and shows fortitude. Lastly - I will add that the doctrine has not changed. The attitudes of society and the members of the church has changed in recent years. I think as a whole the members of the church are slowly able to look past peoples short comings and see them as people. I think as a whole we are becoming more honest and less apt to discriminate. I despise the phrase "hate the sin love the sinner". I will in this instance say that the gospel doesn't define people by their struggles. We we define people by who they are. What they do. We all struggle with something. Our daily choices and how we choose to live with/ overcome what pulls us in different directions is what defines us. Are we compassionate, are we accepting, are we humble, are we teachable, are we kind, are we trying to be like Christ? Matt you definitely opened a can of worms, There is still a lot to be discussed with regards to doctrine, culture and how things are changing."

[friend from high school, private message]:
"I'm not a religious person and would not venture to take a stance in the conversations happening regarding your profile picture. However, I've read the threads and would like to commend you. Not just for taking what I believe to be the just position, but for eloquently articulating your thoughts to an audience who disagrees with your sentiment, and maintaining a level of civility while doing so."

[relative, private message]:
"First of all, I friggin love your profile pic. Second of all, thanks for not taking it down. I think it's actually makin a lot of people think, me included. Anyway, it's been pretty epic reading your discussion thread, it's pretty crazy how insensitive a lot of people have been, in the name of good Christianity. I'm not commenting on the picture just because I know [C] doesn't want anything to blow up before the wedding and all... It's taking a lot of will power.... But anyway, just wanted to let you know that I think the pic is some awesome satire and really I appreciate you not backing down. Me personally, I absolutely do not have the guts to post a picture like that. So thanks for saying things a lot of people like me don't have the courage to say. I think you've really shown a lot of character, it's just a Facebook post, but it seems that a lot of your close friends are letting it completely warp their perspective of the quality of individual you must be. I've read nothing but respectful comments from you and obviously it's a subject you've taken time to actually educate yourself on, both sides of the issues. Anyway, this subject hits a personal note with me for a lot of different reasons but seriously, just wanted to say thanks for starting an insightful discussion and absolutely not backing down."

[relative, private message]:
"Nice! Yeah, ive seen a lot of posts of people being offended by being called bigots and use that to say our side is the unloving one. Your picture is about as 'in your face' as his homophobia is. People call out public statements of public figures all the time so its hypocritical to say his church power makes his opinions immune to debate. Plus the picture was relevant to the world views he stood for and opened up a discussion about the significance of his influence. it wasnt just making fun of him for being an old fart or something so its not even a personal ad hominem attack."

I have no regrets.


I posted a link to this on a post a while back, but I feel it applies to this post as well. For those of you who want to see truly offensive satire of religion, click here [WARNING, very graphic. NSFW].

And, I'm just gonna leave this here...:

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Ordinarily I don't do much on Facebook. I scroll through my feed and look for amusing posts, but I haven't posted anything all year. Until yesterday...

I knew that the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage last week would bring out the worst in many people, especially considering I live in Utah county, home of the Mormon-owned BYU. I even knew that many of my friends, family and coworkers would likely express disappointment in the ruling and make ignorant projections about how their religious liberties will be taken away. And I was not wrong.

What I did not expect was the level to which my blood would boil listening to this filth. It is everywhere I go. Facebook is laced with it. Reddit is covered by it. Coworkers spew unfounded, fear-mongering drivel at inappropriate times. I am sick of it. Seriously, I am fed up.

In one conversation at work a coworker laughingly noted that another Mormon coworker had posted a rainbow picture on Facebook (this has become a symbol of support for the gay community). This picture featured a Mormon temple with a rainbow overlay. I thought it was a fantastic idea, so I made one of my own: a picture of Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer with a rainbow overlay [see left].

It fills me with such joy to see the face of Mormon bigotry in apparent and ironic solidarity with the gay movement, even if it is only in a satirical form. It makes me so happy inside that I made it my Facebook profile pic...

This morning I saw two condemnatory comments on my picture from people with whom I have not spoken in over fifteen years:

Jon W.:
"Wow, Matt... is that truly what you think of Elder Packer..."

Chad F.:
"That's sad Matt. Not that you changed your pic or did the rainbow, I get that, but that you would use it in clearly a mocking manner."

Jon W. (replying to Chad F.):
"Sadily, I went to school with Matt, I never expected this of him."

This is what I wanted to say in response:

"I am not a swearing man, but...

"Fudge Mr. Packer's homophobic hate speech cloaked by religious expression! Fudge his attempts to impose his religious values on to other people! Fudge anyone who defends him or sympathizes with his views! Fudge Mormons who think that a fudging donation to a real fudging charity that feeds homeless gay teens makes up for the millions of dollars the fudging Mormon Church has spent fighting against gay rights, directly contributing to the fudging homophobia which put them on the streets in the fudging first place! FUDGE PACKER! FUDGING FUDGE!"

This is my actual response: 

"Chad and Jon: What you call "mockery" I call "satire." And given the awful things Mr. Packer has said about the gay community for many years, I'd say my satirical photo of him is pretty poignant. It is strange to me that you seem to be more offended by me painting Mr. Packer in a more tolerant light than his expressed position (again, in a satirical manner) than you seem to be by his own hateful words towards people he does not know. If this really is the case, I am happy to disappoint you."

Well, this seems to have opened up the floodgates. Here is the conversation thus far:

Chad F.:
"It's the fact that you openly mock a person that you know many of your friends hold in high regard. You were a spiritual giant to me, and more than anything a guy that taught me a lot about caring for others. I don't agree with but understand your thoughts on Elder Packer, but what you are doing has no impact on him. It does impact those of us who wish to call you a dear friend."

Matt [me]:
"I also have many friends who have been hurt by Packer's words. This picture is for them. Regardless, I appreciate satire--especially of sacred cows. I can't help it if others are offended. And I certainly can't live my life tip-toeing around people--even dear friends. But this still misses the larger point: I chose Packer for a reason. His words about the gay community has caused more harm than my photo ever could. Just look into the number of gay teens living on the streets of Salt Lake City and the number of gay teens in Utah who commit suicide because their families took Packer's words seriously. Homophobia perpetuated by Mormon leaders, such as Packer, impact these numbers, at least in part. Is Packer to blame for all the homophobia in Utah? Certainly not. But as a leader and spokesman of the Mormon majority in this state, he contributes to it. I believe that any friends of mine who find my photo offensive should look inward and ask why?"

Jon W.:
"Matt, I can understand how you feel but that is something you can't prevent. Bro. Packer spoke what was needed to be said and regardless the church leaders have always counseled us on the issues of homosexuality. Please go read what Bro. Kristofferson I know that's not spelled right but my iPhone spelled it wrong as you might consider something's he recently said."

"I don't see how Packer's homophobia is needed."

Jon W.: 
"Because you don't understand I am not faulting you Matt. Just show respect to him like you would like someone such as your grandfather. It is the best way to look at. Also there are times you just need to turn the other cheek."

"I can't respect someone who has hurt so many lives. I never heard my grandfather say anything hurtful against gays (but I never spoke to him about it while he was alive). My conscience will not allow me to "turn the other cheek" to hate. And I am truly saddened that you defend him. Truly I am."

Jon W.: 
"I respect my church leaders and I will never let society dictate what they believe. I am sorry that you don't understand why I am this way."

"I wouldn't presume to know why, Jon. But I think it is healthy to challenge beliefs we take for granted. And I hope you take a serious look in to how much of your respect Packer has actually earned."

Jon W: 
"Elder packer is the second highest church leader and I won't turn my back on my beliefs. You are allowing your personal feelings dictate how you feel. I for one have many gay friends but I don't let Elder packer dictate what he says about them because they aren't members so they can live their life the way they want to until the end of days. When Heavenly Father returns."

"What about gay Mormons? How do you think Packer's words have affected them when he tells them their love is counterfeit and they can change their sexual orientation if they only pray hard enough?"

Chad F.: 
"You are missing the larger point, you didn't post something in support of gay marriage and the picture itself is not what's offensive. What's offensive is your disregard for what your friends find important. I recognize you that you think it's all a big fairy tale and that there is nothing important about these men, but that doesn't change the fact that you know many close to you don't think or belive as you do."

Jon W.: 
"Well said Chad, I appreciate that you also stand up for what you believe in like I do. It seems we also have some other mutual friends. I used to live up in Idaho falls, but moved to pokey in 2011."

"I'm sorry if your regard for Packer is greater than your regard for the people he has hurt. You are free to believe whatever you want. But beliefs matter. Packer's harmful comments on the gay community matter."

And then I posted a quote from Voltaire: "To Learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." [see left]

Jon W.: 
"Matt, I don't ever oppose church leaders it is wrong to when you sustain them on a daily basis. Society views doesn't change the fact as I don't hate that those who want to live their lives but when they mock others but I will let them live their lives the way they want, as it doesn't affect me. It only affects me when they start blaming church leaders as they are only speaking prophetically."

"No offense, but I had trouble reading this comment. I think I get your meaning, though. You are welcome to believe what you want, sustain who you want, for whatever reasons you want. I hope you don't do it blindly, which is what I see a lot. I am stunned by your defense of this man and his comments. Society does not need a prophet telling gays they are inherently sinful and can change and should change their sexual orientation. This is abuse."

Jon W.: 
"Matt, those who he has hurt are not of the faith. I don't do anything blindly."

"Wrong, I know many gay Mormons who have been hurt by his words. Even if this was not the case, to dismiss those who have been hurt by Packer in this way is disrespectful and dishonest."

Jon W.: 
"He spoke the way he was supposed to. I will not debate that. I take for granted that you don't share my views. I can't tell you how to view everything and you can't just blame one person as he is not the only one who is speaking truth why not look something as a whole. It is just like I could blame the entire JW faith or the people who never took my word for the abuse I suffered as a teenager."

"Again, you are defending the indefensible. Packer has been saying for years that gay Mormons can and should become straight by praying. Do you have any idea what happens to a young gay Mormon teen who tries this and fails, over and over again? No wonder so many gay Mormon teens kill themselves. There is a reason psychological organizations around the world classify "pray away the gay" reparative therapy as abuse. Because it is. And this is what Packer is calling "truth" and you are defending him. Furthermore, Packer is not a lone wolf here. He is simply the most vocal and the most consistent."

Jon W.: 
"Matt as I said I will not debate this. I must ask you but do you honestly believe that people are born gay? I will tell you it is a choice and that choice is something that can either make or break you. This is my last comment on this matter because you are blinded by not what I am saying. I know you're hurt by his comments and that is your choice but I can't let you think I will ever have my beliefs be changed."

"This saddens me most of all. You are so dismissive of the pain of others and you refuse to entertain the idea that your beliefs might be wrong. I welcome debate. I am open to any evidence you might have for your views. If I find your evidence compelling, I will revise my beliefs. As for your question "is homosexuality a choice?" All the evidence I have seen unequivocally indicates that it is not a choice. Homosexuals are born that way. To quote Packer, himself: "Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" Why, indeed. I differ from Packer in that I don't see homosexuality as a bad thing."

Jon W.: 
"It is a choice Matt you can't possibly think homosexuals are born gay. This is so wrong on every level. I will not tell you how to live that is not my choice but honestly show me where a baby that is born chooses to be gay, lesbian or transgender"

"Ummm, I don't understand your last question. No one chooses to be gay, lesbian or transgender. That's the point I was making."

"You should ask all your gay friends how many of them chose to be part of an oppressed minority. Their answers may shock you. And while you're at it, do some research into the psychology of homosexuality and ask your question again. It is not a choice (not that it would matter in the conversation of rights)."

Lyndsey D.: 
"Matt, may I just say, your bravery is remarkable. Thank you."

"Likewise, Lyndsey."

Jon W.: 
"I know it's a choice and no matter what you may think those who I know that are gay tell me it is a choice. There is too much evidence to show otherwise. Lindsey I admire that you for saying something but honestly you were much different in school and you changed after high school as you choose to live your lifestyle the way you want. I don't have anything to tell you as I am not here to judge you, except to say your life is your own and only Heavenly Father is your judge and you will be judged according to the way he sees fit when the time comes. I do wish you all the best."

"Going back to your comment, Jon "you can't possibly think homosexuals are born gay. This is so wrong on every level." It is only wrong on every level if you believe that a god would create you gay and then condemn you for it. Gay Mormons are given two options by the church: Marry some one you are not attracted to; or be celibate for the rest of your life. Tell me, which would you choose?"

"Also, I would be interested in meeting gay friends of yours who think it is a choice. I have never had that conversation."

Derek D-Roc Hansen's photo.Derek H.: 
"Jon W., when did you decide to become straight? Or where you always attracted to girls? When did you choose to be a man? Or where you born a man? I'm guessing you were born that way. So why are homosexuals different. I have always been attracted to women, and I was born the gender I identify as. Have you ever sat and listened to a teenager who was battling with this? I have. I have seen their struggle trying to be someone they are not."
Derek H.: 
"I also have a friend who's gay and is married in the temple and he says it's not for everyone."

"I understand the doctrine just fine, thank you. Are you saying that your gay Mormon friend who is in a straight marriage is sexually attracted to their spouse? As far as unfriending me, do what you gotta do, I guess. I hope you don't hide your beliefs, just as I hope you challenge them and learn to defend them."

Jon W.: 
"I would never jeopardize my temple recommend to oppose my beliefs and because I know that without it I would be lost. For Derek, I knew friends growing up that were attracted to women then only became gay by a choice later on in life."

Derek H.: 
"Then they weren't straight to begin with or they are bi-sexual."

"Jon, I am asking a hypothetical question. No risk of losing your temple recommend. But seriously, which would you choose? To be married to someone you are not attracted to or to be celibate?"

"Good point, Derek. Jon, have you considered the possibility that your friends might have been in the closet? Lots of gay people hide in plain sight out of survival."

Jon W.: 
"I will answer more when I get to work I am busy right now"

"Take your time. Gay marriage is legal now, so no rush. lol"

Hillary T,: 
"Matt... I respect this. I respect you. Anything more I have to say about this would surely flame the fire."


Boyd K Packer on Gays: