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Comments about ‘Ask Angela: It's unfair that I'm forced to go to church’

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Published: Saturday, Aug. 3 2013 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

MajMarine makes a really good point -- and his examples are more than convenient. Really apples to apples. And Ben Franklin thanks for pointing out the blog. Reading that exchange sheds greater depth and understanding of both Amy and with Angela's answer. Which ties well to Mimifrans suggestion of meeting with the missionaries or, as discussed with Angela, learning about other churches. Hopefully Amy will read Geoman's comments here; some great insight.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@joe5 – “Your attitude is the problem today. People don't believe in real truth; they only believe in relative truth… your allegiance to intellect… is a woefully insufficient standard for eternal understanding.”

It’s a fair point and certainly there is a great deal of moral relativism in the world today, and young people can be especially susceptible to latching onto “truths” that are little more than selfish and destructive desires.

But let’s not make the mistake of thinking religion has a monopoly on either objective truth or moral behavior. It certainly works for many people but the fact that people can be moral across a variety of religious traditions (that make many incompatible truth claims) or even no religion at all, belies your characterization.

And despite belief in the contrary, the Bible contains a fair amount of moral relativism so this is not just a problem for the secular.

Harrison Lapahie
Shiprock, NM

Don't force them, give the child an option, but tell them the benefits of going to church and that they will be blessed. If they don't, that is their choice.

This is just my personal experience. I know of a Bishop, who forced his son to go to church, and then go on a mission. Now his son is at BYU. He never gave his son an option. His son is doing OK at BYU. I also know of other Mormon parents who forced their children to go to church and also on a mission. These parents did it because they love their children, and want them to go the straight way.

I give my daughter the option, but so far, she has always said "Yes" even when she was tired the previous night. I had always loved going to church when I was a teenager but not when I was a youngster. But I had no option, I had to go to church with my parents, because we were a family. When I was a teenager, I use to love running back home from church to continue doing my homework.

Dan Maloy
Enid, OK

Yeah...

Please don't take me anywhere....

- where I am taught that I have eternal, intrinsic worth
- where I am taught who my Creator is
- where I am taught, in words, songs and whisperings to my heart, to love others
- where I am encouraged to speak one-on-one to my Maker
- where I am encouraged to set goals
- where I learn about self-discipline
- where I learn about the need to forgive others
- where I learn about the need to forgive myself
- where I am taught about the value of family
- where I am taught about the value of good friends
- where I am encouraged to seek after anything and everything that is good and valuable

Yeah, please don't take me anywhere where I would learn those things.

(sarcasm "Off")

This young woman has a lot to learn. She'll learn it but she'll learn it much, muuuuch more slowly outside of the Church.

I've told all 4 of my kids they can leave the Church if they want when they're out of my home but they're not taking me with them. Period.

Dan Maloy
Enid, OK

When I go to church meetings with even the tiniest bit of a good attitude I always leave the meeting happier and more optimistic about my life than when I came. ALWAYS!

The times I go with a bad attitude (which has, in fact, happened a few times) I leave no better than when I entered the building.

Yes, attitude really does matter in this situation.

lollyclk
Bloomfield, NM

I notice that in your letter you say that your parents are requiring you to participate in a social activity - going to church. Are they forcing you to say personal prayers (family prayers don't count because regardless of your religious non/belief you can send good vibes to your loved ones and leave out things you don't agree with)? Are you required to teach classes? Do you have to get up and bear your testimony? If the answer to these questions is no - then I'm afraid you don't have a leg to stand on. Your parents are placing you in a social situation that you find uncomfortable. That's hard, but it's also life. You will be in uncomfortable situations later on, and hopefully you can use this experience to learn how to deal with things you don't like while being polite and kind. That's what being part of a society means. We are polite to others whether we like them or their actions or not. Ask yourself what specific doctrines or practices you disagree with and then talk to your leaders, parents, or the missionaries about them.

kenj
SOUTH JORDAN, UT

We have 5 children all but one left the church. It took me 15 years of prayer and study to learn that it is ok. We are all sinners therefore we are all prodigals. Like the prodigal son who left and returned, if we are faithful to our temple covenants are children who have left will return. If you want some comforting statements regarding this doctrine look up the quotes by the prophets in the 2002 sept. issue of the Ensign.

Kit2350
Honeyville, UT

Your parents can only tell you what to *do* they cannot tell you what to *believe.*
Parents make rules for their children, children who do not want to participate in those rules have to grow up and move out and take responsibility for their own lives. That includes things like curfews, language, how to dress, and yes, even going to church. When she's 18, she can get a job, move out, and do whatever she wants.
Rules are what responsible parents do. When you have children of your own, you can make whatever rules for them that you want.

EW
HENRIETTA, NY

Great article, Angela.

One thing to add to the discussion in the comment section: sure, many 8 year olds don't really understand what they're committing to at baptism in the LDS Church. However, some conscientious and wise parents carefully prepare their children for this decision, or action, if you prefer. And some learn from teachers without parental support. I once knew an 8 year old whose nonmember father would not allow her to be baptized, which broke her heart because she already had a testimony and wanted to make promises with God. He later gave in, and she was baptized. I know other similar situations as well, including an 8 year old who was baptized as the only active member in her nuclear family (divorced parents). She continued to attend church, getting rides with a different family.

So yes, culturally not all 8 year olds are prepared to be baptized; but no, just because not all 8 year olds are properly prepared doesn't mean that it is impossible for a child that age to be prepared.

EW
HENRIETTA, NY

One other thing to add to the discussion: there are three related yet distinct entities involved whenever we talk about Mormonism: the gospel, the Church, and the culture.

The gospel embodies all eternal truth and love as taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. The Church teaches the gospel, but as it is administered by imperfect mortals rather than divine beings of course people make mistakes. This is an opportunity for the people nearby to practice the gospel by loving and forgiving. Third is Mormon culture. Sadly there isn't always much correlation between the culture and the gospel or the Church because it is a byproduct of lots of Mormons who live and work in close proximity and it is most pronounced in areas with high LDS populations (I've lived in all sorts of concentrations and regions and attended internationally). The culture is to blame for most of the negative stereotypes about Mormons, like being exclusive, judgemental, "blindly following," etc.

In short, just because the culture is flawed and Church isn't perfect does not mean the gospel of Jesus Christ is flawed.

william e. kettley
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

I put it in the category of my mother insisting that I take piano lessons, didn't like it at the time, but glad it happened, and I've improved my life through her insistence in a worthy endeavor for her son. William E. Kettley

soulsister
houston, 00

Brahmabull thank you for changing up what i said. Do you work for the media?

lmc
West Jordan, Utah

I am again amazed at the wisdom of this young woman. Her advise is something I only learned through raising several children and watching them raise their children. Looking for the positive will make any situation easier to bear.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will find it." From Pollyanna, 1913 Eleanor Porter's classic novel. To which I would add "and you will be miserable in the discovery." Sadly, "misery loves company" so those who seek & find the negative become obsessed with pointing out their negative findings to others (especially those "Pollyanna types who just don't seem capable of seeing the negative). I've tried the negative approach. Its no fun. I've also been accused (at times) of being a "Polyanna". Its a lot more fun.

patriot
Cedar Hills, UT

LDS parents (myself included) assume that their kids will continue the family tradition of active church participation as they graduate from high school but the pressures and confusion of the world today are much greater than ever before and I think our kids may surprise us when they reach the age of self accountability of 18. When your kids get to choose for the first time for themselves some feel the need to experience the world in spite of anything you can say or do as parents. When you see parents with pre-mature grey hair understand where much of that comes from....

suzyk#1
Mount Pleasant, UT

Angie - when I was your age I loved Young Women's. I wasn't thrilled about high school because I was not popular, I was tall, skinny, quiet and active in the Church. Instead of staying close to Heavenly Father I chose to go the other way...I pray you won't make that mistake. My choice altered everything good I had had up to that time. I was sexually abused, misused and forgot all about what I truly believed was true. Satan is very real and just waits for us to become bored, angry or sad and he steps right in and takes control. I pray you will get down on your knees and ask your Heavenly Father for help...He is always there - we just have to ask. You can do this - I know you can.

kargirl
Sacramento, CA

I like Angela's advice. I would also suggest doing a personal inventory toascertain whether the desire to stop attending meetings came from a wish to separate herself from her parents or lack of belief in this particular faith. If it is the latter, she is still required, as a daughter, to go, but she might still follow Angela's advice. She also might do some reading on her own, find things she does believe. I can think of nothing sadder than someone who, when times are dark, and no one seems to be there, has nowhere to turn--or, conversely, when times are bright, and there is no one who can truly comprehend one's joy, has no one to share it with. This is when people want faith in a Higher Power...Amy will want that someday, and certainly it is that, more than anything, that her parents want for her. At least, that is what I, a parent myself, want to believe.

Quagthistle
Hays, KS

The problem is that forcing a 16-year-old to attend church will almost certainly drive her further from it. The moment she's no longer forced to attend, she's much more likely to never set foot in a church again. There's a good reason Satan's plan of compultion was rejected in favor of the Father's plan of free agency, with it's natural consequences to choices both good and bad. I'm sure the parents are doing it out of concern for her eternal welfare, but forcing someone to attend church against their will has never had a positive effect on anyone I've ever met who went through it. That said, a parent can set the rules. They may be ill-advised rules that put their children in further spiritual jeopardy, but those rules are their choice, and they will be held accountable for them, for better or worse. Sadly, there's little she can do except try to stay positive, as hard as that is to do when being compelled to attend a faith she does not embrace, a violation of the sacred right outlined in AoF 11.

moniker lewinsky
Taylorsville, UT

I'm not really sure how to explain, in a way that will be acceptable to the moderators, why it's not only INAPPROPRIATE to suggest that a girl who doesn't want to attend church probably has "chastity issues", but that it's also just so cliche.
When I left, it was not due to chastity issues. I do not regret it. I shall never want to return. It was a fabulous decision.
At some point you are going to have to stop painting each and every person who has a different philosophical way of thinking as lazy, apathetic, or sinful. Sixteen is young, but old enough to start developing political, social, and philosophical beliefs that would preclude a person from wanting to be a member of a particular group. For the sake of brevity, I will not go into each and every possible reason right now. I'm sure those who have been taught that apostasy is always the result of some sort of "sin" would learn nothing anyway.

Amy, hang in there. Follow the house rules as long as you are forced to. Start making a plan for when you turn 18. Meet new people. Live your life.

redpointgirl
Provo, UT

I wonder if maybe your reluctance to attend church might be related to not feeling welcome there - because as some people have said, it's not just a spiritual environment, it's also a social environment. I know when I was sixteen and didn't have any friends at church and on top of that wasn't really sure if I believed what was being said that church was hard to go to.

All I can say is, even if you decide you don't believe in the gospel, attending church because you have to will still teach you valuable things, like how to get along with people you don't like or don't agree with. It can teach you how to express your opinion in a public setting, how to ask good questions, and how to avoid arguments. Even disregarding the important spiritual things I have learned in church, those things can mean a lot to you in the next few years, even if it's hard.

Good luck!

Markie23
Springville, UT

I made my kids go to church because I *knew* it was true. Then I discovered it wasn't. Sorry kids!

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