These are excerpts from messages posted to an internet mailing list whose members share their experiences of having been members of the Mormon church (LDS Church). Although the names of the writers have not been included here, they are on file. Only minor editing has been done to clarify abbreviations, or correct grammar or spelling. All these items were written during 1998.
Terms which may be unfamiliar:
TBM: devout Mormon Ward: local parish unit of the LDS church Bishop: lay pastor of a ward BYU: Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah; the largest of the Mormon church's chain of colleges D&C: The "Doctrine and Covenants," one of the books Mormons accept as scripture, of equal validity as the Bible Relief Society:
the Mormon women's auxiliary organization Primary: a Mormon organization for children under 12 which meets once a week; not the same as "Sunday school"
References to "this site" and to "Eric" are to the internet web site Recovery From Mormonism, and its subscriber mailing list, operated by former Mormon missionary Eric Kettunen.
The sad truth for me when I left was the realization that this was all just a rickety old con game. In that regard, I feel that the Wizard of Oz more closely resembles the truth about Mormonism [than the X-Files movie]. ... The truth is out there--and it's a lot more mundane than any TBM can imagine: The prophet is a boring, 3rd-rate fraud.
Finding out about the church is like putting a puzzle together--piece by piece. After years of study, once the pieces were in place the picture became clear. Unfortunately and sadly, the church is not true.
It's strange, isn't it, that a church which talks so much about getting personal witness of truth, and bandies the word "investigate" around so much, in fact requires the surrender of critical faculties in favour of unthinking trust?
I can only say that for me, even though I was excommunicated, leaving was such a total relief for me. My whole being became at peace. I remember walking out those doors and thinking "Wow!!, no more double life for me". My ex- father-in-law gave me the same old line that the Holy Ghost would leave me, etc... I told him that all I felt was relief and calmness. I don't think he expected that answer. I had been telling him for years that I wanted to leave the church. I spent most of my "church career" working with the youth and I really loved that. I love working with young kids. I had a two-year stint with a Bishopric and hated it. Since I was heavily involved in teaching the youth, it became increasingly harder and harder for me to teach. When bearing testimony to them I had to start picking my words very carefully so as not to say something that I didn't really believe. The stress of believing that the church is FALSE and still trying to hang on as a TBM was incredible. I can only say that for me, I could never go back and face that pressure again.
It's frustrating to think of all the time I've wasted in religion classes at BYU and Ricks when I could have been learning critical thinking, logic, and philosophy. Even more frustrating is the fact that I have been openly taught to not study those things lest I lose my testimony. With the little wisdom I have and my 20/20 hindsight I now understand the real reason I was taught this dangerous idea. If you think outside the orthodox box you will leave the church.
Also frustrating is the fact that I know the gospel so well. I read and reread the approved list of books. I've been through the scriptures so many times, I've lost count. But just like the temple, every time I went through again I merely reinforced the 'truths' I had. I never questioned outside the accepted parameters. More time wasted!
Only a person who takes risks is free.
I have heard it said that the best things in life don't come easy. I have to just keep believing that the best in life is still ahead, and that there is much to look forward to in our future without the church! Because leaving the church, and standing up for our beliefs, (or non-beliefs) is certainly the hardest thing that I have ever done. But the peace of mind, and integrity of soul that I have found is ever worth it.
Philosophically I left the church over 5 years ago. Physically it was 2 years ago. But it wasn't until I found Eric's site and this list towards the end of last year that I was able to see the problems (read: lies) specific to mormonism. So of course I'm bitter. I'm bitter towards an organization that lied to me throughout my entire childhood and teens, and would have kept me in a LOT longer had I fallen into the trap of a mission and the life (investment factor) thereafter. So to those that are upset with me for my bitterness towards the church I'd say #$%@ you! (fill in your own expletive, I think you can figure out what I had in mind).
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. The mormon version: A mind is a terrible thing.
I can also remember not having any friends or associations past the point of casual acquaintances outside the church... I stuck with "quality" people... except for my moments of proselytizing (me and my hidden agenda)... I don't know if it was fear that I would be led away from the truth or if I just thought I was BETTER than the gentiles out there...
Either way it's sad. I wonder how many special people came my way that I never met.
I also started to think about my life and how sheltered I was from everything in life, not just friends, because of the church's influence. They let you peek at the world but know that you do not TOUCH it... Reminds me of pulling back the kitchen curtain a tiny bit to look outside but knowing you will never go out there.. And the thing that is so CRAZY is that when I would peek it would look so "inviting" to me at times that I wondered a little what I was missing but quickly called myself to repentance because I was entertaining thoughts spurred on by SATAN himself, or so I thought.
Now I look back and believe that it was just the opposite. I believe God was saying.. "Shirley, I have a whole world I created for you to experience out there... let go of that tiny, tiny box you have put me in."
I wonder what my life would have been like... if I would have married someone and had a family. I joined the church at 17 and left at age 30... was engaged 6 times but I was so SCARED to death that I had not met the ONE, and was sure I had told someone in the pre-existence that I would wait for them (too much late nite Saturday's Warriors) that I backed out each time and never got married...
The church robbed me of a normal life... being able to explore myself and this world in the way I probably would have if I had not had all those restrictions.. I would have probably chosen a completely different career path and would have followed a lot of dreams that I gave up at baptism...
Well.. can't go back and undo choices made along the way and I am grateful today that I am out, whether it took over a third of my life to get out or not.. I am glad I'm not still there... I have a lot of life left to explore and enjoy.. and I really do enjoy life. I have a miriad of friends who range from the most decent of heathens to a few people I truly consider spiritual mentors and in-between are even a few die-hard, fundamentalist SOUTHERN BAPTISTS...(laugh!)
After fifteen years of marriage, ten of it as a Mormon and five years as an ex-Mormon, I can say it was the most miserable time of my life. My wife and I did the usual Mormon courtship thing--barely get to know each other, get married, and then stress and impoverish ourselves with children right away. I love my wife, but after a while it was clear to me that my greatest virtue was I was a returned missionary and the best thing I could do was to obey the leadership so that she could go to the Celestial f***ing Kingdom with me. On my part, I didn't give her all the passion I felt because I was afraid of not appearing patriarchal enough.
Before I left the Church, my wife told me if I left, she would divorce me. Well, I took a deep breath and left--and she did, too, a few months later after she remembered that her good Mormon father sexually abused her. So, I am out of the Church, she is out, and we are dealing with the effects of child sexual abuse, not to mention my own issues of physical abuse. We are dealing with this and don't have the slightest idea of who one another are because we spent ten years in the Church dealing with each other through our roles. I'm not saying the Church is responsible for our problems, but living in the Church made it much harder to develop intimacy and trust. It is awful when you can't trust your spouse because he or she is having an affair with the Church.
Leaving has been such a relief. No patriarchal image to uphold. No pressure to be perfect. Maybe I can have a partner someday without worrying how I am scoring on her worthiness scale. If I hate the Church system for anything, it is that. The reinforcement by the system to constantly scrutinize and judge my worthiness and recruiting the person I wanted to be closest to into doing the same. I hate that with everything I am. What is sad about it, too, is this judging and upholding the Church standard is one of the few avenues of power for a woman in the Church. The Church encourages the women to withhold sex and love if a man doesn't prove worthy, in essence making her sexuality a commodity in the Mormon system. A woman cannot love a man and bring him into her desire and sexuality unless he pays to the Mormon system. She essentially works for them. At least that is how I see it.
I was a golden girl in the church. I was asked to speak in Stake conference when I was a young married woman because I placed book of mormons every month (usually 10) and was responsible for bringing two huge families into the church--( I shudder to think).
I directed stake plays at the same time ( I was 22). For years I steamed on full of fire and righteousness (so-called)-----then one day years later--I realized that somewhere "I" had been omitted. I fell to the earth with a thud. Why was I running so hard and so fast only to come home and sink to the floor in bitter tears?? Talk about lost youth. I had the weight of the world and the world beyond on my young shoulders---when I should have been enjoying my young vibrant needs. I never paid any attention to my needs--- and neither did anyone else. So---one day I just stayed home. I pulled out some old church books and read them all.....I didn't need any anti-mormon literature to tell me that I was a pack mule for an ever-changing story called "the only true church."
I studied and cried and studied and cried for a year. No one asked why. I tried to tell them anyway---no one would hear me. So that started my days of isolation. I knew it wasn't true. Logic and a gut pounding told me it wasn't. I had a period of time when I would try to go back---I would sit on the bench and someone would start speaking in hushed tones that Joseph Smith did most for mankind, save Jesus Christ himself---and I physically began to shake. (Not to mention what he did to womankind). I knew he was a charlatan who slept with ( I deleted my first choice word) most of Emma's friends in the relief society and other men's wives and daughters....I knew the others "in the know" were in an unholy collusion with him. Here I was, a totally neglected young wife----and Joseph Smith was in a constant sex fest....Among many other things, I could not balance my shame with his lack of shame any more. I had to go. And no amount of cute primary songs and pot luck dinners ever had the power to make me want to go back.
In the church, everything was a Sign but I couldn't always tell whether it was from God or Satan so I would be very confused and indecisive because of it...out of the church, there are no Signs. There is just Life and decisions are easy when you base them on facts.
Mormons can't imagine that a person would leave the church as a rational, sane and completely thought-out direction. It always needs to have an excuse for them.....a personality conflict...an axe to grind...etc.
I want to thank you all for expressing your experiences as exmormons. I am not a mormon, but my sister is and will be forever. It has really hurt our family. Now I know that there is hope that at least her children may use their God-given brains to see through all the lies. The worst thing that has happened to my family is that my Grandfather was annointed with oil AGAINST HIS WILL by some of his mormon friends on his deathbed, even though he was a member of the Episcopal Church. Twenty-four years later-I am still outraged that his religious freedom was taken from him and his death made just that more painful. Imagine-in a nation where millions have died to preserve our freedoms and it was taken away from him just like that.
Peace to all of you--I wish you freedom and happiness! Thanks for making this a public forum where you can give others hope.
[from an exmormon who had returned briefly to the church after leaving it; written in response to a young woman who discussed with her bishop, because of her personal admiration for him, her desire to leave the church; the bishop urged her to reconsider:]
I just don't want to have happen to you what happened to me...
I got on the treadmill again..
Before I knew it I was paying my children's college money out in tithing... spending hours on Sunday in tedious boredom... Putting up with keeping my critical thinking at the door when I entered..
And most of all...finding myself in an interview to get my temple 'ticket' and having to kowtow by professing my unwavering testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and Brigham Young....
and asking myself...."HOW IN THE HELL DID I GET HERE??"
Every interaction with the church reported on this list has had some element of supervison, or monitoring, guidance, or control with it. Every contact with the church is "inspection" of you, your actions and motives. Home teachers (the LDS spy network IMNSHO), the bishop (micro-managing your life), the endless meetings and callings (the "beehive" concept), all designed to suck every last minute of your private life and resources from you.
[from a former Mormon missionary:]
One of these days I am going to pull the mission handbook out (it was a 3- ring binder about an inch think full of all kinds of guidelines "above and beyond" those in that white handbook) and post some of its suggestions of ways of getting people to listen to us. Some of them were, in my opinion, completely unethical and/or dishonest.
Now, in spite of my distaste for missionary work, I will give credit where credit is due. Had I come home early, I would not be the person I am today. Don't get me wrong. I despise the missionary program. I personally believe its stated goal of obtaining converts is actually secondary to taking young, naive men (I don't mean to ignore the women, but the missionary program *really* is about men), and turning them into future church *leaders*. In my case, the church's plan sort of backfired. I was able to use the same strength I used in the mission field to "stick it out" to begin my quest to understand what Mormonism is really about. Had I not gone on a mission and seen the church from the inside, I suspect I would still be a mindless, non- questioning mormon robot.
We have lived where we are now, for nine years. We left the church a little over six months ago. When I started reading the stories on the Recovery from Mormonism website, I thought some of the people sounded a little paraniod. Then I started asking my "friends" questions about the history and doctrine of the church. These "friends" are people that I have shared my life with for nine years!
I have never been so hurt and shocked to find that it was the people that I considered to be my close friends that called and "turned me in" to the bishop because they "care so much for me and my salvation" they "did it out of love for me."
I am now not really paranoid, but very wary of these people. My family say they love me too, yet some have banished me from their lives and call me the enemy. Some think that I have a problem and will come to my senses.
When I told my family that I was engaged to a non-Mormon this is what I got:
1. It must be because you can't find a nice mormon boy.
2. You are choosing sex over our eternal family so that means if you do this you don't love us.
3. You are a bad influence over your siblings so maybe we won't let you talk to them any more.
4. We should have seen this coming since you have always tended to date non-member (aka interesting, in my mind) men.
5. You must be pregnant.
6. Uncontrollable tears.
7. Your mother and I agree on everything so if I don't like it, we don't like it.
By the way, my dad is a Bishop, so I also understand the feeling of "I want to talk to my dad, not an agent of the church" but I think that they have sort of merged into the same thing...sigh...
The Mormons have a message which is ultimately destructive to freedom of the soul and it is based upon a bald-faced lie of gigantic proportions. Those who have been 'tricked' deserve our best efforts at calmly and logically presenting the truth... We need to let all who could benefit from the knowledge know just what this church is all about... the rank and file just follow. That is the nature of a highly developed cult.
The most striking thing [about leaving the church] is getting a wider range of experience than the church would have permitted. I find that access (in my case re-acquaintance) with the whole breadth of human experience can sometimes be incredibly sweet. Sometimes it really is a wonderful world, and I need to remember to enjoy it. At least now I have that option - I don't have to believe the whole thing is a satanic trap designed to lure me from the embrace of the true church.
I was in a physically abusive marriage for more than 12 years. I had talked to various Bishops about this over the years, but always received the same counsel, which was: Try hard to make your marriage work, and try not to do anything to provoke your [Mormon] husband. One of my bishops in Colorado even suggested that I work on my homemaking skills, and try hard to be a better wife to my husband.
Of course, the abuse continued.
In 1994, after a particularly rough year financially and emotionally, my husband's abuse escalated to the point to where not only was he abusing me, but we was abusing the children as well. There was one incident that was particilarly horrible, where he hit our oldest son, knocking out a tooth in the process. I called the police and pressed charges. It's sad that it took this kind of abuse for me to finally take action, but seeing my son hurt like that really shook me up.
After the police had been called, and charges had been filed, I called my bishop to tell him what had happened. His response astounded me! He said, and I quote, "You totally overreacted here, Sister G[....]! You should have handled this through the church, not the police. I can promise you that if you don't drop the charges and let your husband back in the home, your life will be hell".
My life WILL be hell? Didn't he understand that my life had BEEN hell, and my children's lives had been hell?
Well, I didn't drop the charges. I did try for a few more years to make my marriage work. The incredible thing is, the abuse ended after I pressed charges. Throughout the whole incident in Colorado, my husband was NEVER chastised by the bishop for his behavior. I however, was released from my calling. How's that for making me feel valued as a woman??
[from a 20-year-old new exmormon:]
I've been thinking about it and I am really beginning to think that my experience with Mormonism was really not about believing in God. Not really. I think God was something to talk about and almost came secondary. More? I am thinking that Mormonism is about fitting in to a way of living. A way of living which is defined by a group of 'believers'. Who, in actuality, are successful businessmen who are running a successful corporation. I feel pretty sure this is not an original thought, but I am just barely catching on to it. I think my previous brain could not get around it, but I think I am finally catching on.
... for me, the relationships with those whom I love who are in the church are not the way I would like them to be. The church has control over their thoughts and therefore get in the way. I know, I was there too. When I was a TBM I always had the hope that my non-member best friend would someday "see the light" through my example. Then we could be friends in the eternal scheme of things too. I was tainted in all my relationships, and I know my family and "used-to-be-friends" are still there. "If only I would come back to the fold and safety of the gospel". That cloud of sadness, disappointment, (even anger and fear), continually hovers over my relationship with my parents, siblings and well, I guess I can't say friends in the church, because they no longer associate with me. And that is fine with me, I understand that we see the world in completely different ways. But when the family sees it that way, it is painful. It's a bit painful to be "outside the circle, or club". Not that I want that club, I just want an open, accepting love relationship with my family. That is not possible in the LDS lifestyle unless every family member is "in the know". ... My niece was no longer allowed to hang around with my daughter, (they have to sneak around to see each other). But not once has any of my sisters, brothers or parents or friends just come out and said "so what was it that made you decide to leave the church"? I have to wonder if they are deep inside curious, or really do not want to know...but I suspect they don't want to know, or are afraid to know. The church has indoctrinated them into believing that those who leave are influenced by satan, you remember the temple film... "you will be in MY POWER!!!" ?
I've been reading over my "exit letter" this evening. I sent it nearly a year ago. It's not what you are thinking. This one didn't go to the church. This one went to all of the members of my family...and I received some pretty venomous letters in response that I have not looked at in several months. The church truly does cause an incredible amount of pain, disfunction and division. It still causes me anguish as I reflect on these sentiments... accusations of trying to kill my father with my words and assassinating the family name and integrity...wow. Taking a stand for your truth really is a challenge and a sacrifice, isn't it? But you know what I have learned about whoever wrote the New Testament? They got a few things right, one of which is: "And you shall know the truth. And the truth shall SET YOU FREE." That is so profound. There truly is freedom in truth.
I grew up never doubting the church and always did everything I was supposed to do and was considered to be a very strong believer. When I look back, all my friends were either non-members or they have since left the church and/or stopped believing. My best Mormon friend in High School stopped believing while still in high school. I cried for her then. Since our friendship was based on church activities, etc. I unfortunately lost contact with her. My best cousin was a faithful member of the church, served a mission in Norway, etc. but has since been ex-communicated and is gay. My best roommate at BYU always felt guilty and bad because she couldn't live up to what the church told her she should be. She married a non-member and stopped going to church. I was married in the temple, but my husband and I pretty much stopped believing about the same time and for the same reasons. My husband's favorite companion on his mission, a German, no longer believes and is one of our best friends now. My husband and I became good friends with a German couple my husband met on his mission and they also left the church. Another one of our best friends, a Norwegian we met at BYU, also stopped believing after we did. My favorite sibling is no longer a member of the church. These are all friends and family from our and their believing days that have all come to the same conclusion at various times, but our relationships and friendships have remained. I always think about this because it shows me that there really was nothing I could do about my losing my testimony. It is the natural result of someone who has always been drawn to people who think critically and couldn't accept faith as a basis of defining truth. I have not had to give up any friendships since I stopped believing, so I have been lucky in that way. Unfortunately our TBM family members don't have the same tolerance. For both my and especially my husband's parents, we still have to toe the line because they would be devastated if we really explained the details of our beliefs to them. We have been honest with them but not totally open. We have given them every indication to invite questions, but they don't ask because they don't want to know how we feel. This is what really hurts, because we can't be ourselves to our parents.
[a woman comments on her ex-husband's Mormon family:]
It is painful -- everyday I wake up with the thoughts of how the church and this particular family have ruined my life -- then I realize that I volunteered. People ask me why I have a personal crusade to defame the church and this is why -- it is my duty as a human to keep others from screwing up their lives -- to make sure they think for themselves and not become part of the collective. . .
[from a former branch president (lay pastor) in Germany (translated from German):]
At the time when I was in charge of a mission branch and made a point of visiting all the members, I got to know a married couple who were especially poor. Since I was the branch president, I was able to help needy members at my own discretion from the money collected as fast offerings. I was very happy to be able to do that. However, anything that wasn't used each month had to be sent on [to headquarters]. Later I was asked by the mission president who it was that I had helped with that money. It turned out that this couple had not ever paid tithing. The mission president informed me that the church cannot give aid to the whole world. Only those members who regularly pay their tithing should receive assistance.
Not believing in the church did not dull the lively love I communicate---and it was good for my son, my extended family, and this ward to see that. Maybe that is why they give me a respectful space---I am not out to hurt anyone--- and I am still a good person despite my apostasy. It gives them a complexity to ponder....it's good for them.
[from a non-mormon woman who lived for three months in a small Mormon town:]
Living in Utah was the most UNREAL experience of my life. I talked to people on the internet that lived in Utah BEFORE we moved there, and they *warned* me about it, but I just didn't get it. All they would say is "It's just weird". That's how I talk about it now, it's hard to find the right words for the place. It brings to mind a good science fiction novel....or another version of "1984." A mass experiment in brainwashing, and start with the kids, so they never know any different. It's so disturbing to me, and I was never a part of it.
Particularly deadly are the efforts to interpret all experience through the framework of Mormonism and to deny or invalidate anything they cannot shoe- horn into their preconceived categories. Everything gets evaluated in the light of whether it takes you closer to or further from the ideal the leadership has created and the membership has imposed on itself. All efforts are supposed to bring one closer to fulfulling the purposes of the church and if they don't or if your purposes don't fit, their value or their existence is denied.
It is useful to be aware that we all try to fit into life somehow, to make sense of it. Mormonism attacks our ability to be self-reflective and to reflect upon the world for ourselves. The LDS church not only represses its members but it teaches them to repress themselves. Joseph Smith's statement, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves," takes on a sinister meaning with the current church. One of the great discoveries of my life has been that we do not need all the teachings and ideas and forms of control that Mormonism and others try to push on us.
What we do need is the ability to pay attention to how things work and to understand that skilled thinking and behavior usually leads to outcomes we intend and want and unskilled thinking and behaviors usually lead to outcomes we do not intend and want. There is no great need for prophets, but there is need to pay attention--and to pay attention to the things that will get us what we want. Mormonism, among other things, is a big distraction. When I finally got to the point of asking myself if I was really getting what I wanted from my church membership--not in the big grand "Plan of Salvation" but in my day-to-day life--I had to answer no. Having done the best I could at being Mormon for many years, I accepted that maybe it was just time to change, not try harder to do more of what wasn't working.
I happen to be in the prophet's [Gordon B. Hinckley's] ward and have had a few close encounters with him. Although he is probably a fine person, what struck me most about him was his celebrity air. After our meeting everyone was thronging to meet him. As a true celeb he was quick to brush them aside and escape to the elevator. One particular instance caught my attention. An older man who had pushed his way through the crowd walked up to the prophet to shake his hand. The man told Hinckley about how many miles he had traveled and the years he had waited to meet him. Hinckley shook his hand quickly and moved on without saying a word or even acknowledging him. This episode came as a shock to me. The Mormon propaganda machine spins an entirely different image of him. I would have imagined a more, shall we say, Christ-like figure. Not a man who had no time for the little people.
I guess the experience is wasted on me. I am always hearing comments like "we are so fortunate to be in this ward", and the bishop said a while ago "I have to pinch myself when I realize I am really in this ward!" My bad attitude :-) makes it even difficult to stomach this ward. We meet in the Joseph Smith Memorial building, which feels more like the Bank of America rather than a church. But the building is an asset to the city and it's also nice after the meetings (which I only attend when my husband drags me there) to walk out among the beautiful flowers and waterfalls. But then my bad attitude sets in again and I start thinking of all the tithing money that funded all of those magnificent flowers. Then I start thinking about the people who went without in the slums of Boston or Africa so we can enjoy their money here in Salt Lake City. I remember in my branch in Boston people who would give up food to pay their tithing. And then I look at the flowers and they don't seem quite so nice.
Though it was tough to realize at the time, we were always looked upon as one of the "unfortunate" families in our ward due to the fact that Dad was a non-member. Because of this, I received a lot of attention from the LDS Elders, trying to make sure that I would be "the man" in the family. I now realize years later how the local LDS leadership totally marginalized my mom after her and dad divorced. I remember being baptised at 8 years of age, and looking back, remember it as a rather cultish, frightening experience. The bishop and my Grandpa didn't hold hands with me as they immersed me. They gripped my wrists and dunked me under. There didn't seem to be a lot of love in the room.
I "received" the Aaronic Priesthood at 12, and don't remember much about it, probably wasn't paying much attention. After that, the thing I remember most is not being able to spend as much time with Dad as I wanted to because we were always being hauled away to some church function. Three times each Sunday, family home evenings, home teachers, all that stuff.
At the age of 15, I started developing other interests, primarily girls, and my passion to this day, fishing. Growing up in Boulder presented me with some prime-time fly-fishing. My best friend, a non-mormon, and I found a fishing mentor who taught us how to tie flies and fish. One particular August evening, we planned to spend the night tying new flies for a fishing outing the next day. Everything was working in our favor...weather, time of year, hatch, etc. One problem though, it was Tuesday night, and that meant attending the youth group (was it called Mutual?) at the church. Since I had been to church three times the previous Sunday and had home teachers visit on Monday, I felt there was enough church in my life for the past two days and promptly informed my mother that I'd be skipping church and would be at my friends house preparing for our fishing excursion. So, mom makes a bad decision and calls her father. My Grandpa was the epitome of a "Jack", do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, LDS Elder. He was mean as a snake all of his life, a bitter, bigoted, prejudiced man. He calls me at my friend's house and tells me to get my butt to church. No, thanks, Grandpa, I'm tying flies. Unacceptable. "Get your butt back to the house, I'll be there in 10 minutes". So, back to the house I go and in walks Grandpa. Upon hearing and learning of my determination not to attend church that evening for the 5th time in 3 days, he takes off his belt and beats me. For a good 15 minutes this maniac is swinging his belt at me like he's Babe Ruth on crystal methamphetamine. I dodged a good bit of it, but some of it I had to take. Mom still to this day is in serious denial about the whole episode, saying that she doesn't even remember being in the house while her father was beating her son. It just doesn't fit in too tidily with her version of "history", much like how the church deals with those sticky little problems in Joe Smith's life.
Now that most of my family is inactive or apostate, when we get together (by choice) on Sundays for dinner..we have a blast. I feel much closer to my family, and feel a stronger bond than ever. There is a new level of honesty also, since most of us aren't putting on the "happy mormon face" anymore.
Ain't life great when you leave the church? I know there are many bumps and bruises along the way, but I wouldn't trade those for the richer quality of life, and the variety and genuine relationships.
You can "prove" in a hundred ways that the Bible contains erroneous information and the Book of Mormon doesn't reflect the LDS church's beliefs today. But as soon as I bring something like that up with a true-believing Mormon, in my experience they either shoot back with a scripture that does back up what they believe, or say "it doesn't matter" followed by bearing a testimony that has little to do with fact and everything to do with what they "know" (translated: really, really hope) is true.
[My Mormon husband] was telling me just a couple of nights ago how the reason he was feeling bad about the [anti-Mormon] things he had read was because the spirit wasn't with him. If he was doing everything he was supposed to, then reading the "anti" literature wouldn't have affected him. He jeopardized his testimony with this, etc. So, his supposed unworthiness (read imperfections) left him susceptible to Satan's power. That's why God doesn't answer him with a confirmation of the truth of the Book of Mormon anymore...he's got to make himself *worthy* of an answer. I don't mean this as criticism of my husband--it really just breaks my heart. How sad that he has to beat himself up and blame himself like this, all because of a nineteenth century con man. I guess I'm angrier with the institution that perpetuates the myth of Joseph Smith than I thought.
I'm a 10-year convert (re: dupe) who's about to write his letter of resignation. I was an elders' quorum president, bishopric counsellor, read scriptures twice a day, two tons of wheat in the basement, etc. etc. But too much stuff didn't add up and seemed to have no connection to Christ -- especially the temple strangeness, polygamy, heavy-handed leadership and the conforming culture. I took a couple of books out of the public library on church history and learned more in one hour about Joseph Smith's character than I had learned in 10 years of being a church member. I'm outta there. My wife, also a convert, is with me on this. And it looks like our four kids are accepting the sudden change in direction in their parents lives.
[Mormons frequently say to those who leave:] "You left because there is something wrong with you. You know that there is nothing wrong with the church. If you had only tried harder...."
Those were the thoughts that went through my head before I left the church. The big step for me was realizing *gulp* that there was nothing wrong with me and everything wrong with the church. That is when I knew that I would live if I left.
Some of the price for leaving was my marriage. I often felt, even before I seriously considered leaving, that the church was an interloper in my relationship with my wife. I knew divorce was a possible outcome of my "apostacy," and Idiscovered in the five years after leaving just how married my wife and I were to our church roles and expectations and how little we were married to one another.
The sentence keeps running thru my head, that a friend of mine who was investigating the church in high school said, when asked to pray about if the church was true.. "It is like asking the Easter Bunny if Santa Claus is real!" What a smart young man he was! and how much of a waste the last 17 years have been...
I am twenty times the person I was when I "faked" belief in the church. Like many of you, I am kinder, gentler, more accepting and loving than I was while in the church. I see some form of beauty in every person. I no longer feel "more special" than other folks, but instead feel more a part of humanity. The list goes on and on. All I can hope for is that my personal happiness and peace with myself will have an effect on my wife. Over time I am hoping that she will start to question her belief system. .... But I do feel anger at the pompous asses in Salt Lake City who perpetuate this madness and turn a blind eye to all our family relationships harmed by the church.
[another exmormon responded: ]
I could write a book about the anger I feel for the pomposity that has invaded my marriage bed over the past 27 years. The garments for starters. The insistance that sex be with single purpose in mind..... Endless church callings which drain bodies physically and spiritually. I'm just very grateful that our marriage is coming through the muck without being entirely destroyed before it ever got a chance to play itself through...
As far as I am concerned, marriage [as lived] in the church can be soul- death. Little if anything is said about enjoyment. Instead, the relationship fraught with eternal consequences that make every thought, feeling, and behavior of your spouse a potential celestial train wreck. Marriage is loaded with enough freight without adding the heavy expectations of the church.
I joined the church at 19 in Northern Michigan, served a mission a year later to San Francisco and ended up in Monterey, baptized a lot of people, graduated from BYU, married in the temple, have six overachieving children (one on a mission), a wonderful TBM wife, have served in many leadership positions over the years, currently live in Utah, have a great career, and everything is wonderful!!
Unfortunately, I have recently completed a rather intensive study of church history and doctrine and find that the church I thought I was a member of is nothing like the one I read about! Will the real LDS church please stand up!!
It has been difficult these last 6 months coming out of Sangrila and into the real world, but once you see the emporer has no clothes, it is dam near impossible to pretend he is in fact wearing clothes no matter how many people testify that he is!
I was born in 1961 to a devout mormon family. I served as Elders' quorum president and as 2nd counselor in the bishoric.. I was a veil worker in the Portland, Oregon temple. I served faithfully for 34 years. I was a Zone Leader in my mission. I read the scriptures over and over. I prayed day after day. I paid a full tithe. I gave generous fast offerings. I obeyed the Word of Wisdom. I was faithful to my wife. I served in the temple regularly. I did my home teaching 100%.
One day I woke up and admitted to myself that I did not have a testimony. I had fasted and prayed time and time again to no avail. I wanted to believe with all my heart. I shed many tears and begged the Lord to speak to my heart. He was silent.
Now I am an ex-mormon. For the first time in my life I am truly happy.
[after watching an interview of the president of the LDS church on national television:]
I really was surprised by how much anger I felt. I was angry all over again that I'd ever joined, angry that I spent too many years in it, angry that I didn't leave when I first knew it wasn't true, angry for putting myself through the hoops, angry that I felt cheated and lied to, angry that I was chastised when I asked honest questions, angry that I gave them the power to control me, angry about the psychological and emotional abuse I experienced from the Church.
I feel that most Mormons who follow the church doctrine line by line are inherently unable to respect other people's space and opinions. They aren't able to separate their opinions from the church's opinions. Their opinions are therefore the church's opinions and as a result opinions become law, commandment, and the final word. Anyone with a different viewpoint is against the church and is in direct misdirection who is in need of reprimand and reproof.
The big problem with the mormons is that LAY ministry gives roots to LAY counseling. The poor "inspired" (read misguided) bishop, quorum president, 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. counselors and others with "callings" are just not trained or equipped to give the industrial strength therapy that many problems members face calls for. There are exceptions, of course, but the danger still exists.
The biggest outrage is when they "advise" families to divorce if one parent becomes apostate. This is disgusting. It's more than just counseling, it is meddling. Often just telling members with serious problems to "read the Book of Mormon and pray," or telling abused women to "try harder" and "seek the counsel of their husband" (the abuser).
These "church" therapists don't know when to let go and turn the problem over to a professional. They are afraid to admit "failure" and the basic rule that only mormons can help mormons. They seem to believe that any money that mormons pay to "non-mormons" for services is "bleeding" the church.
The church also seems to believe that by joining (and tithing), you have bought a ticket to the Celestial Kingdom. They then feel responsible to see that you get there, or at least NOT blame the church for not making it. You have actually "sold your soul" to the LDS Prophet in exchange for eternal life, your own planet, Celestial polygamy, yadda yadda yadda.
I was out on my bike this morning, and realized that it has been almost exactly two years since I stumbled upon the Recovery From Mormonism web site, and I just wanted to bear my testimony to thank Eric Kettunen for helping to enlighten me so! Oops! ;)
Seriously, when I found the web site, by accident of course, I wasn't thinking I would ever leave the church. I simply wanted to increase my testimony. By typing the word "Mormon" into a search engine, my life was forever changed! I can't say it's all been easy and painless, but I wouldn't trade the pain for anything in the world! The freedom and happiness I have now, far surpasses anything I ever imagined I could have as a Mormon.
The most wonderful change in my life since leaving, has been that I really try to MAKE myself enjoy life everyday. Since developing this attitude, I have also been able to go off of my anti-depressants, and for the most part, be depression free. I also notice all the little things in my life, and no longer feel superior to my fellow human beings.
To go to Voices - Part 2, click here
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