Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Ultra Sad Disease that is Mormon Funerals

I recently had the horrific experience of attending an ex-boyfriend's funeral.

But let me explain. I'll call him Jeff. We really hadn't talked since high school, except for a few chats on Facebook. But from the looks of things, he had a lot going for him. He had a beautiful daughter. He was planning on graduating from college in the Spring in Art and photography; he was very talented. He also had a great support system of family and friends. His death was unexpected and tragic. He also grew up in an inactive/part member family. So he grew up not really going or only going for social reasons as he hit junior high and high school, and I think he continued this same path into adulthood.

Jeff and I grew up in the same Mormon ward (church congregational boundary). At that time the Young Men's president (Sam) was a really great guy. He was compassionate and fun. He was a people person. Everyone liked him. I always had a lot of love and respect for him. Well, it looks like Jeff maintained contact with Sam since they continued to live by each throughout this time. Sam, throughout the last 15 years, has moved up the ranks within the Church. Soon after my family moved from this area he became the local bishop (pastor) for a few years. Now he has moved on up and into the local stake presidency (group of men who run many wards within a certain area). Despite all this moving up, I kind of naively assumed he was still the same old Sam. Compassionate, empathetic.

For those of you who have never been to a Mormon funeral...they are boring beyond belief. They are rote and very impersonal. Sometimes you may get something interesting but for the most part they are pretty cold. And why are they like this? Because Mormon funerals are only for proselytizing. They are using one of the most vulnerable times like a death in the family to promote their church. Here's a link to the article by Boyd K. Packer, one of the 12 apostles in the Church called The Unwritten Order of Things given in 1996.

He says: "...Bishops should not yield the arrangement of meetings to members. They should not yield the arrangement for funerals...It is not the proper order of things for members or families to expect to decide who will speak and for how long."
So even though your family member just died you really have no say in how things are planned or what is said.

"Funerals could and should be the most spiritually impressive. They are becoming informal family reunions in front of ward members. Often the Spirit is repulsed by humorous experiences or jokes when the time could be devoted to teaching the things of the Spirit, even the sacred things."

So remembering your the fun times and the good times about your loved one is a big no no. Somehow the Mormon god will be offended.

"When the family insists that several family members speak in a funeral, we hear about the deceased instead of about the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the comforting promises revealed in the scriptures."

NO talking about the deceased! But of course! Having someone die is just another excuse for proselyting! Does this man have any empathy? Does he realize that funerals are for the FAMILY AND FRIENDS of the deceased? It's a way for us to celebrate our loved one's life and the life we remember and shared with her/him! It's a way for family and friends to find closure and say goodbye. It can be a beautiful and uplifting if allowed to be.

Packer summarizes his complete lack of humanity: "I have told my Brethren in that day when my funeral is held, if any of them who speak talk about me, I will raise up and correct them. The gospel is to be preached. I know of no meeting where the congregation is in a better state of readiness to receive revelation and inspiration from a speaker than they are at a funeral. This privilege is being taken away from us because we don't understand the order of things--the unwritten order of things--that relates to the administration of the Church and the reception of the Spirit." (A zombie Packer does seem fascinating, though).
Yes, let's take advantage of grieving family and friends who happen to either be inactive or non Mormons and try to make them feel horrible and guilty. It's all about getting more members into their church or reactivating those who are inactive in order to get tithing and to make the church look good. If this man truly cared about people as individuals and their pain, he would never have said such horrible things.

I give this background so you can understand my experience at my friend's funeral. The first part of the funeral was actually pretty nice. His brother and sister both spoke and read a letter out loud from his best friend. Then it came time for Sam to speak since 1) he's in the stake presidency for this area and 2) he was also a friend. I was really hoping for some good stuff. But no. It went downhill fast as he gripped the pulpit and stared down at Jeff's parents (who are and have been pretty inactive their whole lives) and "challenged [them] to be worthy to go to the temple one year from today and be sealed to their son. For I now that that is what he wants and what he is waiting for." "He is busy up in heaven and you need to be busy down here on Earth."

WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!????? Are you kidding me? I was horrified. Absolutely disgusted. I looked around to see if anyone else was as shocked and horrified as me...nope. I wasn't sitting close to Jeff's parents. I wish I could have got up and declared bullshit on what he just said and give his parents a big hug. Who are you to use the death of this couple's son to promote your religion? Where is the compassion and empathy. How dare you do that to them!!! How dare you attempt to manipulate and make them feel guilty about who and where they are in their lives!!!! How dare you say YOU KNOW, when you have no FUCKING clue about "where" Jeff is let alone what he's doing or feeling!!! Shame on you, Sam. You should know better. My respect for you is gone. You have sold your proverbial soul to move up the ranks. You may not have wanted to at first. But you have and you did. Their were no "church police" there to stop you if you chose NOT to act like a shithead. You could have chosen the higher ground. Since the family, Jeff, and you are all most likely religious/believe in Jesus/God why in the world could you not have just talked about that!!!! Comfort the family, grieve with the family. Remember they are people who are grieving and are DEVASTATED that their son is dead. They just want to remember their son, grieve, celebrate his life and the good times they had with him.

Thank you for reminding me one of the many reasons why I left. But shame on you, Sam, for what you did. And shame on you, Mormon church, for allowing this to happen.


Hillary said...

I hope your friends parents were able to brush that mans comments off. They were extremely insensitive and exploited their grief. Makes me angry.

I too have been to a funeral like this where a young man died tragically. He was clearly dearly loved as there was a huge attendance. At the time I was a believer, but even then I thought it was especially cold when the young mans mother spoke. She used most of her time to speak regretfully of the fact that he'd been inactive, and she used the moment as a sort of grim reminded for those there that they ought to get back to church if they weren't going. It was sad. She hardly spoke about her son or her love of him. It was all about the church, and the fact that he'd been inactive blotted out everything else about him. Broke my heart.

kuri said...

"A zombie Packer does seem fascinating, though"

But it might be kind of hard to tell him from regular Packer.

jen said...

I know this is how it's done, but it makes me sad and angry and heartbroken... Packer's right, there's no better to manipulate the hell out of people than when they are hurting. Kick 'em when they're down!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me,but Religion is about what happens after a person dies. To not talk about religion, heaven or hell, during a funeral is the hight of hypocrisy for a believer. If you don't like it, don't go to a religious funeral. I would be very surprised if you went to a Baptist funeral and they didn't talk about getting saved by Jesus.

Kaylanamars said...

I never said don't talk about religion. This is a religious funeral! I know that. I was saying that I hoped he would have focused on the good things about the Mormon Jesus. The comforting things and to leave out the proselyting and manipulation of the deceased parents who aren't considered active in this particular religion and hence it was a way to manipulate them because of the death of their son to come back to church. I don't care who you, that is a shitty way to treat people. Period. I've been to a few religious funerals and they always focused on the love of god and the DECEASED and the love between the family and friends NOT MISSIONARY WORK. There's a difference.

Nope, I've never been to a Baptist funeral but I would hold the same standard for them as well. I would hope they'd do the right thing and celebrate the life of the person and to help uplift family and friends and if that involves the person being happy in heaven and in god's presence and love, great! I just personally feel is an abhorrent thing to do to people, to make them feel guilty and manipulated during such a horrific time in their lives.

But thanks for sharing.

Jo said...

I don't think the problem is talking about religion at a funeral--that's totally expected at a religious funeral, and can be very comforting for believers.The problem is the people who use the funeral to make people feel guilty for their lifestyles or for their nonbelief. Focusing a eulogy on someone's lack of church attendance (as Hillary saw) or on implying that less active parents aren't worthy of their church-going son is manipulative and detracts from the proper spirit of the meeting.

I have been to a couple of mormon funerals that were nice, and focused on good memories of the deceased and the hope of seeing that person after death. I think that kind of funeral can be uplifting and comforting for believers and nonbelievers alike. It's shameful to ruin that feeling with fire and brimstone and calls to repentance. That just rubs salt in the open wound.

TGD said...

Thank you for writing this. This is why I don't attend Mormon Funerals. This is why I have chosen to stay away after the death of many family members. There is no respect for the humanity of the living or the dead.

Dan said...

That really is horrible...attempting to reactivate family members when they're at their most vulnerable (which is clearly what Packer meant when he called it "a better state of readiness").

I guess this is what I may have to look forward to when my parents die. Awesome.

Muccavwon said...

I went to a baptist funeral on my mission, and the pastor said that we didn't know where the deceased's soul had gone because we weren't sure if he had ever been saved, but the prospects weren't good considering how he had lived his life and that he died from an OD. He used the funeral solely as a platform to scare people about hell, and exhort people to get saved by Jesus. There was no comfort for the family and friends of this guy--only condemnation.

Robin said...

Whoa-just happened upon this article. This makes me sad for the grieving folks that have lost a special life in their lives. Where did this 'sealing yourself to a deceased a year later at the temple' come from? It sounds like a man made idea. The Word of God says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.". Then, we can choose to believe what the enemy says about us Which leads to a defeated life or what God says about us to determine whether we'll be more than overcomes. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but save us from ourselves and this crazy world, liberate, and bring freedom to be all He desires us to be. Hm, I don't 'get' private ritual type stuff. Oh, and all this 'works' type stuff, I don't get either. Jesus paid it all, period. Out of the love we receive from Him, there is a natural pouring out of that love. Be encouraged that if at one time Jeff confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart, that he is with his Savior and is home. Thank you for sharing your experience and bringing a little enlightenment to me.

Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, M.D. said...

That's why it's extremely wise to have but One choich - Catholicism. We don't have those problems. And the sex abuse in 2001? Simply blown-up by the Liar to try to discredit U.S. --- Nevertheless, see if you can’t glean from this or read between the lines how much we love you. All of U.S. believe in death - death is a part of life, is it not? While the term 'indelible' does mean ‘never ending’, we croak and our soul's indelible --- You'll find-out soon enough in the Warning which will come directly from Almighty God - only a foretaste of Heaven, a horrific picture of Hell, and a picture of Purgatory. You must choose, therefore, which destination you wish to inhabit. Where am I going?? Straight-on-up, baby, no passing GO measly $200. God bless you with discernment.

Kaylanamars said...

Sounds great!!!! Thanks for reading, Dr. Kold.