Yesterday I had two Mormon brothers knock on my door. I engaged in a very....very long porch conversation. I am looking for any further advice as to how to engage in a meaningful conversation to make them THINK about the flock they are following. Any ex-mo advice would be helpful. I know this is only the beginning and I am looking forward to the challenge. 

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They were both born and raised in it. They know nothing else.

I'm not sure about conversation topics, but I will say that my girlfriend is ex-mormon and for her one of the early steps in questioning came about because she saw that I was a good person without believing any of the same stuff that her whole family believed. I actively tried to become mormon to be with her (non-mormons can't marry in the temple, which is the only "real" marriage a mormon can have), but I just couldn't do it. Not honestly anyways. She didn't understand how I didn't just "get it" like she did even though I was obviously trying. We broke up when she moved back to SLC and she later became atheist on her own. It will never be a quick "Aha! God doesn't exist! What was I thinking?"

That's a really cool story Lee! I went through something very similar and also found the LDS church to be impossible to swallow. There are some positive aspects. Sense of unity and togetherness...but you have to follow their teaching to be part of this. There is a lot at stake for leaving compared to your watered down mainstream shake-hands-and-go-home version of shallow Christianity.

Lee, I am honestly impressed, and genuinely appreciative, how accurate that was. :)

I feed the  young elders that come to my house. 

It's sort of a soft spot for me. I have family in a small town that's predominantly Mormon. Hell, I have family that's Mormon. (An aunt that helped to raise me is adamant that she'll just have a Baptism For The Dead on my ass when I die, so I'll get into a close enough level of heaven to visit. It's no as good as being sealed as an eternal family, but it will have to do, considering my 'ideas' on religion and lack of proper spiritual guidance.) I also had a friend that I knew prior to his mission and then as a RM. 

It's pretty messed up, what they go through. 

Some assignments are worse than others, of course. 

I had a mate that survived a particularly rough one. He had to be deloused, defleaed and dewormed upon re-entry to the U.S after two yeas in some hell hole set of islands off the Portuguese coast. He'd lost over twenty percent of his body weight. They are perpetually poor and perpetually hungry. 

So I feed em.

At the end of the day, they are usually scared, 18 year old boys away from family for the very first time. I know the 'rules' enough to know what to offer and what not to. 

Usually I end up saying something that makes them never come back. 

Currently I'm also tending a pack of stray Jehovah's Witnesses. 

I have a discussion on it up in the Theist Debate forum. 

I'd leave a link, but that would require me to open a new tab. 

I'd open a new tab, but that would take forever unless I restarted my computer. 

It's not going to happen. Sorry. 

I'm sure you can find it if you're interested, though. 

No matter what you do, I'd suggests visualizing your best-imagined outcome and then simply.. working towards that. 

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to have a platform for good role modeling behavior as an Atheist American (or wherever you're from.) or do you want to plant seeds of doubt within their mind? 

Chances are, you won't be able to do both. 

Not because it isn't possible, but because it's just damn hard. 

Keep us updated!

That is awesome Misty. What do you feed them out of curiosity? What will they eat?

In regards to your question:

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to have a platform for good role modeling behavior as an Atheist American (or wherever you're from.) or do you want to plant seeds of doubt within their mind? 

Chances are, you won't be able to do both. 

I hadn't really thought about that until now but I think more than anything I was hoping to accomplish both. Why do you believe those two things wouldn't go hand in hand? Why couldn't you accomplish both? 

Because they are on a mission. 

That's the keyword there, my friend. 

MISSION. 

Take a look at a dictionary definition. There isn't a whole lot of wiggle room. 

They are engaging you with one objective. If you do not show progress along that objective, they will disassociate and move on. 

If you do progress along that objective, you're not exactly planting the seeds of doubt, now are you? 

It's their way or their highway, and if backed into an intellectual corner or challenged..they are out. Gone. Poof! 

Some people are really beyond rational conversation. These kids have been trained in total immersion. They have been conditioned and prepared for any argument you can put at them. Once you express any one of a certain number of 'unreachable' doubts, they move on to someone else and you are written off. 

(Well, actually, you're responses are documented, recorded and handed over to their Bishops.) 

I'm experiencing the trade-off tactic with my returning JWs right now. They come back tomorrow. While I have much less experience with their cult than I do the LDS flavor, I'm starting to see that door-to-door tactics follow a pretty familiar pattern. 

Oh, if you're really interested, I feed em whatever I'd feed anyone else, minus alcohol, caffeine and anything brewed with or from the coffees and tea plants.  Depends on the weather, really. I've got pretty extensive gardens with my current location, so it was home-grown products last year. 

That makes sense Misty. Thanks!!! When you said homegrown products my mind went somewhere else for a minute. Wouldn't that be a sight!

In my experience:

If you're talking to a born-and-raised Mormon, there's very little you can do. Unless they're already somehow questioning the doctrine themselves, 99% of the time any conflicting thoughts you share will only make them mentally dig their heels in deeper. Mormons are raised in a sort of "us-versus-them" mindset, where they're actively persecuted/misunderstood by everyone else because of their history (not even gonna get into that), so if you start saying anything that even slightly goes against the church, they get protective, the blinders come up and they go into their happy place where their faith and testimony trump logic and reasoning. Because to them, their testimony of "the truth" IS logical. Testimony, from church doctrine, usually comes from physical confirmation (ie a burning of the bosom, occasionally accompanied by a "still small voice" aka the Holy Ghost). Problem is people go "I *think* I felt something, and I feel good, so that must be it!", or essentially just had gas. Point being, it's usually an actual experience for them, and when church leaders confirm "THAT'S your proof" at a young, impressionable age, it's hard to give that up. It's actually very clever. Assholes.

Now if you're talking to a converted Mormon (ie someone who was baptized later in life and/or didn't grow up hearing Mormon doctrine in their household), you may have an easier time talking to them simply because they're more familiar with a non-Mormon perspective, so it's not as much of a stretch for them to relate back to before they were converted. Other than that, I got nothin'.

What got me out was a combination of a bunch of smaller things that happened before I even BEGAN questioning the doctrine. First was what Lee was talking about earlier, how I was a Mormon teenager who was crazy-in-love with a non-member and desperately wanted him to convert so we would have a future together. Well, we broke up, and the same thing happened with the guy I dated after him (who I eventually married in a Mormon temple). He was raised in the Mormon church but had started having doubts, and I couldn't understand why these people who I thought the world of (the ex-husband not so much now, lol) couldn't see what I did about the church. Keep in mind I was a 110% Koolaid drinker for years. Second was going to college in Utah and seeing how the members there used the religion to persecute people they didn't think were Mormon enough (like I somehow WASN'T already??). Third was going through the temple for endowments and the marriage ceremony, and coming out with a huge headache and disillusionment about how the ceremony went (very weird, cut and dry, couldn't even wear my wedding dress). It was my first punched-in-the-face example of how "God" and religion were more important than even my own wedding day.

ONLY after all that did I begin re-examining the religion, let alone questioning it. If Lee or my ex-husband (who, bless his heart :P, got married in the temple to try and give the church another shot) had tried convincing me to "see the light" before then, we would have been broken up within the week.

I realized as I wrote all this (sorry for having the actual advice come at the very bottom!), I think the best thing you can do, if you really want a shot at having a productive religious discussion with an active Mormon, is put your arguments in terms of being just opinions ("this is how look at x"), because they'll feel less attacked that way. Like, you're allowing them, and even think it's okay that they believe what they do - and just segway that into what you in turn think about it. They may not extend the courtesy, especially if they're missionaries, but that's about the best bet I think you'll have.

Hey Stephy you have an amazing story I must say...REALLY awesome...

so if you start saying anything that even slightly goes against the church, they get protective, the blinders come up and they go into their happy place where their faith and testimony trump logic and reasoning.

This is good advice and I will take it. I suppose to a certain extent I'm a lonely single mom with nothing better to do on a friday night than talk to mormon missionaries, lol!!!! I probably won't make a dent but the challenge sounds fun. They have already tried to move in on me with their faith statements and "testify" what they "know to be true" and you're right...when I ask the hard questions it's like the walls go up and the faith kicks in, but both of these young boys struck me as super bright and not beyond logic...We'll see...

I wish you the best of luck! Many of those missionaries are very sweet young men and women (my younger brother is about to be one of them in July - in England!), and they can be great company. And to be fair, many young men (not so much women) go on missions simply because it's expected of them and they're trying to make the best of it, so having balanced religious discussions won't always be completely fruitless. I think you'll be able to tell those missionaries apart from the ones with the "I'm gonna get FIFTEEN baptisms this week!!!" outlook LOL.

Just out of curiosity: Do they have a quota or something? I'm asking seriously because I always wonder what's in it for them? Besides that it's expected of them of course.

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