, , , , , , ,

This past week I’ve spent more time at a Mormon church than I have in the previous 5 years. I took my kids to Sacrament Meeting to perform in their Primary program last Sunday. Then, Tuesday, my usual night to have the kids over for dinner, happened to be their ward Trunk-or-Treat. So, we went to that instead.

Sacrament Meeting

The yearly Primary program at the Mormon church is when the children sing and give brief class presentations in front of the adults during the regular Mormon worship service called Sacrament Meeting. It is usually very cute. It’s stuff like this that give Mormon kids practice with public speaking and performing. That’s a good thing.

It is also, unfortunately, a little creepy at times.

Have you ever seen those videos of adolescents pontificating on some political issue far more sophisticated than they could ever truly comprehend at their age?

It’s pretty obvious that they are merely mimicking either their parents, or other public figures. Jonathon Krohn in the video above was 13 when he touted his conservative beliefs, oops.. I mean his PARENT’s conservative beliefs.

This is what the Primary program in the Mormon church is like. Only the topic is Mormonism rather than politics. It’s funny because most active Mormons would probably watch the video above and see nothing wrong with it because it probably aligns with their beliefs. I never had a wholesale problem with the Primary program at church until I left it, except for the testimony part. I always seemed to squirm uncomfortably in my seat each time a child got up to recite exactly what his parents or his teachers told him to say. But then, having to hear from the parent or teacher about how much pure faith and wisdom come from the children is too much for me these days.

It’s not faith or wisdom! It’s parroting YOU! Congratulating them on their ability to convincingly imitate your opinions and beliefs seems a little bit like spiritual masturbation to me. It should be done in the privacy of your own home rather than publicly like that.

Jonathan Krohn later changed his policial views as many do. He says,

“I think it was naive. It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

Same goes for religion. The theme of the program was “choose the right”

Mormon “choose the right” lessons have no underlying ‘critical thinking’ or ‘here’s how to process a difficult dilemma’ to them. They are merely ‘here are some predetermined answers for you.’ I always joke with the kids that they need to choose the left sometimes or they’ll just go in a circle.

Trunk or Treat

Best Mormon-themed Halloween costume ever!

My ex-wife takes my kids to a really large ward. They go to one of those small cookie cutter McChapels where the overflow on Sunday reaches into the basketball courts in the back. We got there 10 minutes early and had to sit back there. So, the Halloween activity in the parking lot was a Zoo.

But it was a relatively harmless one… Hoards of kids in costumes with few fun adults also dressed up. I stayed with my youngest while the other ones appropriately dispersed with their friends. Mostly it was just people having fun, being there with and for their kids. I even felt a twinge of nostalgia wondering if I could fathom going back for the good feeling that was there.

Aaaand…then that ended.

I woke up from that delusion real quick when I observed one of the teenage boys standing in a group next to me mocking homosexuals complete with a limp wrist, mincing walk and laughter from his friends (it wasn’t part of a costume and he didn’t know me or know that I was watching). My kids didn’t catch it. Otherwise, I would have said something. As such it just served to give me a sick feeling and memories of that sort of thing for 40 years in the LDS church environment.

Best gay Mormon Halloween costume.

Obviously you can’t blame the church structure for that  …or can you? That teenager was certainly pretty confident that all his Mormon friends would laugh and agree with him. Perhaps situations like that are a lot like the Primary program where the kids just mimic their parents…