VOICES OF FORMER MORMONS - 6
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
Terms which may be unfamiliar:
TBM: ||devout Mormon|
|Ward: || local parish unit of the LDS
|Bishop: || lay pastor of a ward
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 (also "RS"):
|| the Mormon women's
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
As I grew up in the church I was told over and over not to
masturbate. It was evil and took away the spirit. It seemed I
spent my whole youth feeling guilty. I had to go to the Bishop
several times, being humiliated to have to confess my sins. I
remember the horrible feeling when nature took its course, it
made me feel so evil. How about the time I broke down on my
mission and started masturbating. I was told that I was
responsible for the souls I couldn't baptize because I had lost
the spirit. Wow - what a huge guilt trip. I thought I was going
to hell. I lived the real-life Clockwork Orange.
After I left the church, none of my LDS friends wanted to have
anything to do with me! These women who were my 'sisters' and
'best friends' for almost 20 years would walk past me and not
speak, even if I spoke to them first. Guess it was that being
cast into outer darkness thingie....or whatever, and they were
afraid. Afraid of the unknown, afraid of being an outcast
themselves or jeopardizing their own church membership. I left
the church voluntarily, so it wasn't even like I was
excommunicated or disfellowshipped either. When I see people now
that I know I must have treated that way in the past for leaving
the church, I tell them I've left and apologize and ask for their
When I was on my mission, our mission guidelines instructed us
missionaries to buy the newspaper, go to the vital statistics
page, and get the names of people who had had a death in the
family, people who were newlyweds, people who had a new baby,
etc. We were instructed to go visit them and use the "would you
like to know where you came from" (the new baby people), "why you
are here" (for those just married), and "where you are going"
(for the family of the dead). We were instructed not to mention
anything about the newspaper, but rather make it appear as if we
had been inspired to seek these folks out. Deceptive? Without
question. Unethical? Without question. Indeed, a good number
of missionaries (to their credit) found it offensive and refused
to use it. Others did use it. That the Mormon church uses such
deception would, of course, be of no surprise to anyone on this
Of the people I had a hand in baptizing on my mission, I will
hazard to say that virtually all of them had some gaping hole in
their lives that they were desperately wanting to fill. We just
happened to drop by at the right time. After baptism, and after
the hole eventually got filled on its own, probably 90% of the
people I baptized dropped out of church activity. But, by god,
the church had their names on the membership roles.
[A comment on the previous comment:]
BINGO. As a former missionary, I agree completely. Yeah, we tried
to talk to successful and intelligent people, but we ended up
baptizing refugees, nut cases, and people that thought we were
cute. And we knew it.
I should have listened to the spirit when I prayed Moroni's
promise, and the answer was always NO NO NO! Worse yet I had lied
to myself, and that hurt the most.
I was thinking tonight (that dangerous habit of mine!) and
realized something very important to me. Two years after
deciding to investigate Mormonism and seven months after I last
tried to set foot in a Mormon chapel trying to be an "active
Mormon", I am finally able to rid myself of the extreme and
unreasonable self hate and anger due to a bad choice I made back
in 1992, to become a Mormon. I realize now that I did the best
I could with the knowledge I had and that I grew despite the
restrictions I allowed that cult to impose on me. Today, I am a
stronger more tolerant and compassionate person and I am feeling
more grounded and confident in my abilities and relationship to
deity. I choose to be involved in the community around me. I
am working on myself and am building a circle of friends based on
common interests and goals. I am accepting myself as an
imperfect being and am changing the things I can and dealing
with the rest. I am a work in progress.
I was baptized in the church when 8 but it wasn't until I was 16
that I found any value in the church. But soon it became the
single most important thing in my life, and the corner stone for
all of my ideas, plans, and personality. I began reading the
scriptures nightly, going to seminary, church, writing a
journal, paying my tithing. Any way I imagined that God wanted
me to act I acted. In return I found a sense of importance, a
tap into the secrets of the universe, and a sense I would be
taken care of for eternity. I went from failing out of school
to a 4.0 my last two years of high school. I taught myself the
piano, and was alive with the search for knowledge.
But it was this same passion that betrayed me. My break from
the church had more to do with my adherance to its ideas than out
of a convenient denial of them. I began reading books like Ayn
Rand, Sartre, Hesse, Potok. When I made it to college I began
meeting people who were not mormon. I began my study of
philosophy. More and more I grew from listening attentively to
what was said at church to being impatient, frustrated, or angry
at the emptiness of their ideas, or the constant need to
reconcile what was spoken with what I read and more importantly,
what I've studied as gospel beforehand.
My parents divorced when I was five years old, and at the time my
Mom was a major TBM. She wouldn't have considered leaving my
father if not for the fact that he had been beating her up for
years, and then she found out that he'd also had a child with
another woman while they were married. She finally decided to
leave when she caught him having sex with our 17-year old
baby-sitter. My mother was six months pregnant with my little
sister at the time. She went to the bishop because she didn't
have any money or anywhere to go with three little kids, and she
needed help to get out.
The bishop told her that there is never a good reason to break up
a family, and she would get no help from the church if she left.
He said that if my father was beating her and sleeping around,
then she just needs to try harder to please him and initiate sex
more often. Luckily, my grandparents (the paternal ones, no
less!) found out about the abuse and helped Mom find an apartment
and gave her some money so she could get out.
It didn't stop there, though. The next Sunday after she left
Dad, the bishop announced in Sacrament Meeting that my mom had
abandoned her husband and "spit in the face of God" by breaking
her marriage vows. It was our last week there, since we'd moved
into a different ward, and the old bishop called the new one and
told him that my mom shouldn't get any help from the church
because of what she'd done. Luckily, the new bishop was slightly
more progressive and was willing to help out on occasion as long
as she made all of us show up at church every Sunday.
When I left the Church, I asked to voluntarily have my name
removed from the church records. They tried excommunicating me
first because of a letter I had written to our children
explaining my feelings and concerns about the Church. When the
leaders found out that that excuse would not hold water they then
asked me to turn over to the Church all the documentation we had
accumulated that proved the Church to be untrue, or the so
called anti Mormon literature re Church history. They asked me to
do so immediately. I refused, telling them I would not, because
we wanted to share that information with others.
They then called for a church court and excommunicated me for
apostasy for not turning the documentation over to them. We had
dedicated our lives to the Mormon Church, always giving 150% of
our time, talents, finances, and support. When we realized there
were real problems with the Church, we were serving in the Manti
Temple as assistant supervisors and I was also serving as a
counselor in the Bishopric and my wife was serving as counselor
in the Relief Society Presidency, all at the same time. We had
given all we had to the Mormon Church, and just because we
started questioning and had some concerns, they decided we were
no longer welcome. We were treated as though we were never even a
part of their organization, and ostracized without even a thank
you. The Stake President gave me the opportunity of staying in
the Church if I chose to, but in order to do so, I needed to
repent and go back to being submissive to the leaders, and
absolutely not to question authority or doctrine. We were tired
of not being able to study and then discuss and ask questions.
Mormonism for me caused manic depression. When I was manic I
thought it was the holy ghost and when I was depressed I thought
that it was because of my incredible unworthiness (masturbation
and sexual thoughts). Gave up mormonism and now I live in a happy
place inside without the huge, near catastrophic mood swings.
Does mormonism cause depression? I wonder...
Hi, This is to let everyone out there know that I have left the
church after being born in the covenant and having my endowments
two years ago. I have sacrificed family and friends for this,
but it was a move that should have been done several years ago.
I have two small children and they need to know that what I did
was also done for them. I have a feeling of peace and belonging
now that I never had as a mormon. My family has disowned me and
the only friend that I have is my best friend who is still
mormon. It sure does make me feel good to know that there are
others out there like me that I can talk to.
You know what? I am SO proud to be a thinker, an individual, an
APOSTATE! I am so proud to be counted among those who broke free
instead of following the herd! Sometimes it just hits me that if
I hadn't followed my inner voice, I'd still be there dissecting
turds in Gospel Doctrine class, or telling young girls how
special it is to be married in the McTemple. Sometimes my spirit
literally CELEBRATES the freedom that I have given it!
I was going to show my mother how to live a perfect life. Since
she'd married a non-Mormon I was going to marry a Mormon in the
temple to show her that if she'd only done "the right thing" to
begin with, her marriage problems and the split religion
household would all have been cured. Instead, I got in the
church so deep that I couldn't leave because of pride and fear
of admitting I was wrong! When I eventually left the church at
age 40, I was in such intense mental and emotional anguish from
being super active on the outside yet still not having a
testimony on the inside that admitting I'd been wrong was the
least of my worries. My sanity and the strength and emotional
health of me and my five children became top priority.
As a Mormon, I had to keep my thinking compartmentalized. One of
the great strides I made in getting out -- I remember the feeling
of Ah Ha! I had that day -- was I realized I didn't believe what
I said I believed, I didn't feel what I said I
felt, and I didn't do what I said I did. I was living in
a fantasy world about myself. Then I asked myself why I acted
that way -- fatal for my testimony -- and it was because I was
afraid! I was afraid I wouldn't be liked, I wouldn't be loved, I
would be alone and lonely. Then I started paying attention to
what I really believed, what I really felt, what I really did,
and I saw that the church and I are not a good fit. I had to lie
to myself to be a Mormon. So I stopped.
It is always a mind stretching experience to get out of our
comfort zone and do something totally different. If you continue
doing the same thing, you will always get the same results. A
rut is a grave with both ends knocked out. Living without the
LDS church is like climbing out of the hole and declaring that
you believe in "Life before Death."
That was the huge contradiction in mormonism for me... that on
the one side they say "you are of infinite worth" and then every
sunday you go to church and the speakers remind you what a piece
of unworthy shit you are because you don't do this that or the
other well enough.
If your business was booming, they'd say it was because you were
paying your tithing.
If your business failed, they'd say that you needed "some growth"
and "will learn something from it".
But because you weren't paying tithing it is SO easy to find
I joined the church 20 years ago and have struggled for all those
20 years. I finally threw my hands in the air last year and
decided to stop all the usual "things": tithing, prayer,
scripture study, fasting, etc.
Guess what? Nothing changed except that I'm 10% richer! No
lightning bolts. The earth didn't open up and swallow me. I'm
fine. And I'm happier.
Tithing opening the windows of heaven is a load of malarky.
As some of you know, I am still a church going woman. But, I am
not happy with the church and I am reading and studying to
decide what I actually want for the rest of my life. So far in
my reading, I am not leaning toward staying in the church. But
at least I am not comtemplating suicide like I was a couple of
weeks ago. All of you deserve thanks for that. You and your
postings have helped me a lot.
Here are a few things I've learned since I moved out of the
Mormon Bowl (AKA Salt Lake Valley):
You CAN be a "good" person and not be LDS.
You CAN have a good relationship with your family if you're not
Those are big ones for me. I assumed, growing up, that every
person who wasn't LDS was automatically a smoker and a drinker,
lived in a dysfunctional house, and was just a Bad Person in
general. I thought they were all miserable but most of them
probably didn't know why.
Well, since I moved here to Louisiana, people still seem happy to
me! What a shock! And my boyfriend's family is much closer and
a lot LESS dysfunctional than mine! Double shock! I thought
they would be wallowing in misery, but they are not. And they
are Good People. I thought only Mormons were Good People. Phew,
knock me over with a feather.
I remember looking at GBH and some of the apostles while they
spoke at a conference just before I truly began to question the
church. I remember thinking: "There is just no way that these
uptight and self-righteous old men communicate with any Deity.
They all lack the compassion, love, and mercy that Jesus
represented in the scriptures."
One of the main reasons I began to doubt the church was that the
leaders were always so strict, firm, and self-righteous. I
never actually thought that the apostles were actually in on
some kind of scam, or that they were deliberately lying to me;
however I was definitely afraid of them, and I was deeply afraid
of the God they claimed to communicate with. I decided that I
wouldn't worship, or be under the authority of, any being that
had to gain my respect and devotion through fear tactics.
The best decision I've ever made.
On balance I found Mormons to be good people. Socialization is a
big part of their culture, but don't upset the cart or you'll
find out that they are not as nice as they could be. I am
extremely glad that I am no longer under Mormon misconceptions. I
have no desire for religion at all, Mormonism cured me of
I was born and reared in the LDS church, am an ex-missionary and
a BYU graduate, and have benefited tremendously from what I
gained from it.
The main reason I left was that I couldn't imagine leading my
five strong daughters deeply into it at today's level of
information. Most of them thank me for liberating them from it.
And, certainly, it's much more difficult to sustain than before,
given the current easy availability of debunking information,
especially on the internet.
I just discovered this list about 1/2 hour ago and decided to
join. Moments ago, I finished typing bits about myself in my
profile and hope that you check it out. I live in "happy
valley" (Orem, Utah) right now and am studying church history
objectively to try and figure the mess out. I'm feeling a bit
betrayed as I'm discovering things that have been kept in the
dark my entire life. This may sound funny to Y'all but I can't
stop drawing parallels to the church and the movie "The Matrix!"
I live in a real world, where considering the LDS claims as the
truth is the same as considering cartoons to be the real
[The following is a response to the comment, "There is no
analogy to "hitting bottom" with exmormons. Mormons become
exmormons for reasons other than hitting bottom."]
I know the experience of 'hitting bottom' since I've done it a
few times. (wry grin) I reach a point where I am willing to do
'whatever it takes' to stop the hurting. That's what I did when
I left that church. I was willing to forfeit my hope of eternal
salvation to stop hurting. I hated myself as a Mormon. I was
very depressed. I constantly expected more of myself than was
humanly possible to achieve, and thought I was righteous for
expecting those things of myself. I tried for many years to
squeeze myself into Molly's glass slippers, and they just kept
I grew to hate the lack of diversity in that church. I grew to
hate the lack of appreciation for individuality, both in personal
growth and backgrounds. I grew to hate the lack of depth
surrounding me, hidden behind pious Pharisees. I grew to hate
the control and manipulation that started at the highest levels
of that church and filtered down to my own ward and even my
family at times. I hated that I learned to internalize my own
But I must say one thing: those same things are found in other
places and not just that church. My father was an alcoholic and
I learned a lot of those same behaviors in my family. I learned
perfectionism, not to question 'authority,' not to trust myself
or other people, not to believe in myself and my capabilities,
how to wear a Happy Mask, how to bury my feelings until I didn't
feel anything any more... and the list goes on. That church felt
very familiar to me, just like home.
If I had stayed in that church I honestly believe I would have
died. Oh, I would have existed another few decades, but the part
of me that is Me wouldn't have lived. I would have been living
someone else's idea of what my life should be. Easier, but not
My dad, a bishop, chooses to ignore me for the most part and
casts his disapproving eye at me whenever I see him (on the
average about once per year). So, to that end, I have had to
accept the fact that I will never have a close relationship with
my family. I find it very sad that the church breeds a culture
that doesn't support or allow members the ability to share a
mutually respectful and loving relationship with family members
that are not believers. I know there are members out there that
get past it and do accept their non-believing family members, but
I think it is the exception, and definitely not a possibility in
my family. However, I have made my own happiness in life. I
have a great husband and two wonderful children. I often find it
comforting that of my mom's three kids, I have the happiest
marriage and the most healthy and well-adjusted kids (my other
two siblings are still living in the same Utah community and
still members). I get a bit of pleasure knowing that it baffles
my parents as to how I have managed to remain a "good and moral
person with values" all outside of the sanctity of their church,
and that they have to admit to the fact that I am the happiest of
their children - and the only one fully out of the church.
My Parents and siblings are all NAZI TBM and in the past it has
been very difficult for me to spend time with them. I am always
held up as the bad example and am a constant recipient of "the
attitude". In spite of the fact that I am completely self
sufficient, well educated, a great cook, and a helluva lot of fun
to hang out with, I find some members of my family seem to be
almost offended by my mere presence. The church not only allows
them to treat me this way, it seems to require they treat me this
way. I guess it comes with the conflict of not being able to
associate with apostates. Frankly, I am always surprised when I,
my husband and children are invited to family get togethers. I
suppose even if they don't want to be around us, they feel they
can use the opportunity for missionary work.
Just the thought of IMNSHO, has given me the confidence and
permission to field their subtle attacks. In the past I would
just hang my head and agree with them. Now, I can respond with
my opinion. I have realized that I have that right as a family
member and human being. I have also realized that there is
nothing I can possibly do to make them think less of me than they
already do as an apostate. It really can't get worse. There is
a lot of freedom in that.
Last November when my parents were in Central America picking up
my sister off her mission, I had a feeling to call my 18 year old
brother that was at home alone. When I called he was getting
ready to commit suicide. (I'm crying and shaking thinking about
how we almost lost him - because of that cult.) We talked for
four hours. He told me that he didn't believe the church was
true and he could never be "good enough" (he was a "perfect" kid,
he had just got his Eagle badge, went to youth temple trips, was
captain of the cheerleaders and won state finals, went to
seminary at O'dark 30 without a fit, etc). I told him that was
why I had left.
He was shocked, he hadn't even realized I had left a year prior.
He said, "You!? The molliest mormon I've ever known?!" For four
hours I validated his feelings. He said he had hope for the
first time in over a year. He is a brave, terrific kid. And now
he just finalized on having his name removed. (I've been trying
for a year to get mine removed - from start to end he had it done
in 30 days.) Guess where he is going at the end of this month
when he graduates from high school? .... not a mission ... to
Germany to back pack with friends and just have fun! Someone was
watching out for my brother, since I was "prompted" to call him
at 11 p.m. on a school night -- a prompting that saved his life.
Remember the mormon lie? God/HigherPower doesn't help us after
we leave the true church ... I mean the cult.
I know that after I started the 'wonderful' Young Women's program
and started learning (or getting the message) that women were
less important to God, I was suicidal off and on from 15 to 32
years old. As soon as it hit me it was all lies I snapped out of
my mobot trance, and I've been fine since. I can only imagine
that the plight for gays is even harder than I had it; being
raised in the cult and being gay.
I came so close to losing my soul (personality) to that
organization. In the church we are taught to focus on god, not to
take care of each other. Because if we are righteous, we don't
need help. And if we aren't righteous, we don't deserve it. When
I look inside myself, I see a blackness welling up with anger and
hatred for what has happened. For the life I lost, the family
that looks suspiciously at me, the friends that hesitate ... I
built my life on a lie -- a lie I told myself. A lie I used to
comfort myself when my marriage became less and less what I had
dreamed it would be. A lie I believed because I so wanted to live
in a community of people that loved and cared for one another.
And instead I lived in a community of people willing to judge
first, rather than love.
I assumed at age 19 that even though I didn't have a "strong"
testimony, I would gain it on my mission. Not to mention the
subtle fact that, had I refused to go, the social consequences
would have been horrid. I believed the "borrowed testimony"
theory. It was time to get my own and the whole prospect of
sacrificing two years for the lord seemed noble and appealing
A missionary is shot from the role of normal teenager with a
borrowed testimony to instant "expert" in the field of salvation.
You wear the label, everyone tells you how great you are, you
subtly satisfy you ego with your role, you're convinced that the
most powerful being in the Universe is on your side. Girls
flock to you as never before, you gain experience, learn skills,
and you acquire some genuinely good traits along the way. It's
almost impossible for a missionary not to become TBM. As a
pre-mission teenager, very few delve into any information that is
not sanctioned by the church, so you usually arrive at the
church's conclusion. During the mission you're basically going
through a heavy course in indoctrination far from family and
friends. Immediately after the mission, you're the pride of the
family. Very few have the courage and personality to question
I just could not bring myself to believe that God could possibly
care whether or not I wrote in my journal, or planted a garden
or even whether I went swimming on Sunday. I could not believe
he insisted that I had to spend three hours in church each and
every Sunday and that I had to sing every word of every hymn or I
was a bad person. That I had to use certain words when I prayed,
that I had to be on my knees or it didn't really count. Surely a
God, ruler over the universe, had more important things to think
about than if I was wearing a particluar style of underwear
(perhaps world hunger or ravages of war?) I am amazed that this
concept is not more obvious to those who remain in the church.
For me, I left the church in tiny increments. I remember many
years ago wishing it weren't true! It was just too much hardship
and sorrow for me to try to do all the things I was supposed to
do and as time went on, especially after my first trip to the
temple, my heart just wasn't in it. I officially left when I
moved out of my house into another town on my own. I had vague
thoughts about going to Sacrament meeting but didn't. Time
passed and I started feeling really happy and started feeling
like the self I was at 28, the year I converted. I noticed that
none of the bad things were happening that were supposed to
happen - like spiritual darkness, misery, SIN and so forth.
Well, I did sin - but I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt no guilt!
I still felt some kind of loving presence around me, but I felt
encouragement and not judgment. Go figure. Now it's been over
three years. I'm not interested in religion of any kind but I am
interested in my own personal spirituality and possibilities of
things I haven't tapped into yet. I do it at my own pace, only
when I feel interest. I'll never go back. Leaving was the right
thing to do.
And the inconsistencies became too much for me to handle. A
friend, one of my mission companions, in fact, gave me "Emma
Smith: A Mormon Enigma" and reading about how Joseph Smith lied
to his wife and associates just blew me away. That's my trigger
point - JS's honesty. If he isn't honest in all things, I don't
believe God would call him to be a prophet. Forget that
"prophets aren't perfect" crap, we still have be able to at least
trust the guy. Joseph Smith lost that trust.
From there, barely more than a year ago, the dam burst. I now
have a sizable library, that which TBMs like to label "anti-
mormon", but it's well-researched, referenced stuff, and no one's
been able to refute it.
It's hard for me... Not leaving the church, that's easy enough.
I can't stand to have my name associated with a fraud, and I now
KNOW, in the true meaning of that word, that the LDS church is a
fraud. But dang it, I gave my entire adult life to this fraud, I
gave it my heart, might, mind, and soul, only to find I was
living a lie. The depths of anger I continue to experience every
time I think about a new aspect of that lie keeps surprising me.
I've never been so mad at anything in my entire life.
While I have been insulted, slighted, and snubbed by members of
the church, they were NOT what drove me away. If anything, their
indecent behavior probably made me cling more insistently to my
"perfect" church. It was the deception of the Mormon hierarchy,
the lies embedded in its basic foundation and claims. Mormonism
is constructed in a such a way that if there is anything false in
its basic nature as a DOCTRINE, or in the history of that
doctrine, the religion in its entirety cannot be true. In my
search for truth, I found the cracks, and the result was that I
chose knowledge over ignorance, empowerment over submission. The
church is not untrue because of horrible, abusive people... it is
untrue because it is FALSE.
It was when I realised that the Mormon God, expecting me to
swallow all this crap, was completely alien to me. I realised I
had no desire to live with a God capable of creating such a
mountain of evidence against His Church and giving me a mind
incapable of ignoring it. There was then nothing, absolutely
nothing I could do to stop myself from admitting it was all a
[The following comment was made on the German exmormon list;
it is translated from German]
I wasn't a member of the church for very long; soon after I was
baptized, I realized that I had made a mistake. But emotionally
I am having trouble dealing with the whole thing. I'm not doing
very well. That's why I'm glad there is a group like this. I
have made a firm break with the Mormons, even though it isn't
easy. Once I had a chance to look into the doctrines of the
church, I couldn't accept them. But as an investigator (which I
was for quite a long time) you don't get all the details, not at
all. But you get emotionally involved, and that's why I am
having trouble going back to a normal life. But I hope I'll be
able to do so soon.
So I guess I can look for things to get better? It certainly
couldn't be any worse. I am counting on a brighter tomorrow.
Who else here wakes up every morning thinking "I am free, I am
free!" or any other such thought? I am so excited about living
life on my terms now. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Every
day is a fresh and new perspective on life. To be honest, I
really am stuck on stupid because I don't know what to do first.
It is amazing how I almost feel like an infant discovering myself
for the first time in my whole life. I highly recommend it to
one and to all. I didn't know there could be life after church!
Now my life can start. HEE HAWWW!!!!!! look out world!
This made me think of how I'd feel after sinning... I'd go to
sacrament meeting, hear talks about being perfect or whatever and
I'd come home feeling horrible. I remember many times sitting in
the shower with the water turned up as hot as it would go, tears
streaming down my face as I begged God to give me some kind of
confirmation that I was forgiven and that I was not a bad person.
Of course, the feeling never came, and I assumed I was a wicked,
dirty person and pleaded even more plaintively for absolution
from my guilty conscience. I never felt more tormented and in
anguish. I felt like I had no control, that there were
definitely times I felt powerless to my weaknesses, and I almost
hated God for not keeping that promise in the bible about making
the weak strong.
Corporations create mythologies about the leaders and doctor the
corporate history to ensure the employees feel good about what
the company has done and is doing. Sound familiar? I was left
feeling I was part of a corporation -- rather than a church --
that didn't give a damn about me personally and was mainly
concerned about my "production" in terms of the number of
meetings attended, hometeaching visits, and tithing paid. I
determined the church ultimately had no respect for me, for the
needs of my integrity. This was borne out when I asked my bishop
just before I left if I could ever be right on an important
matter and the church wrong. He said, "No," and I replied, "Then
I will always be wrong if I stay, and I can't live with that." It
struck sometime back when Hinckley said in an interview,
essentially, that dissenters from the church don't matter because
there are always others to take their place. One employee quits,
another joins the company. We're all replaceable. What a cold,
cold place corporate Mormonism is.
As far as Mormons being the nicest people on earth - I have
to say: Not once you've crossed them. Mormons are really nice
if you're a member or a potential member. But otherwise, they
don't give you the time of day. All their niceness is really
done in order to be a good example so that those seeing them
might investigate the church. I know this is a broad
generalization, and some are not this way, but I believe most
are; it's programmed into them.
I, too, was baptized at age eight. Did I want to? Did I
understand what the choice was? Did I know anything except my
desparate fantasy that the Holy Ghost was supposed to descend
from heaven on the morning that I was confirmed and sit on my
shoulder and whisper all the 'right' answers to me for the rest
of my life? Not likely. But I too, was bitterly disappointed
when a few days after my baptism I'd 'sinned' and was once
again wretched and stained and in need of God's forgiveness or
else I would never see the rest of my family again in the
The Mormon church is not a benign organization filled only with
silly, bland, well-meaning people. It is a powerful, living
organism designed to fend for its continued existence by any
means possible. Lies, guilt, brainwashing, enmeshment, extreme
co-dependency, public humiliation, threats of eternal damnation
are among its prods and whips. The most converted members pry,
threaten, and meddle extremely and with feelings of total
impunity in the private and personal affairs of their family
members, friends, ward, or stake members. Lack of respect for
the individual member is completely and totally lacking in any
aspect of Mormonism or in the Mormon church.
Yes, I have left. Yes, I want people to know I have 'moved on'
and have 'healed many of my issues' from 40 years a Mormon. And
yet, I desire to keep speaking strongly the truth of my time
there; the truth of my Mormon life of fear, guilt, confusion,
blind obedience, pain, worry, deep shame, and insecurity. Most
of all I desire to express what I feel to be the most damning
legacy of Mormonism to me which was the snatching away of my own
divine, inner power of self guidance. In its place I was issued
a church concocted, electroplated, liahona, made of cobbled
together teachings, historical fiction, and the opinions of men
mingled with scripture. This theft of self compass through
relentless, expertly crafted brainwashing teachings from infancy
onward kept me rudderless and relying on church 'inspired'
guidance until I was nearly forty. These ten years post-Mormon
have been outright grunt work hiding out in bunkers of inner
self searching; scaling dizzying cliffs of despair and low self-
esteem; and shuddering in blasts of scathing resentment and
bitterness from former Mormon friends and loved ones.
Oh yes! I am chipping off the Mormon crust from my life and
moving on! But I am still wanting to shine a spotlight of
reminder on what happens to an individual recruited as the
drone, either through birth or conversion, in service to power
hungry and toxic religion.
I joined the church at 19, having endured 19 years of physical,
sexual, emotional abuse in my family. Boy, did Joseph Smith
sound like a rescuer to me! I needed him desperately to bless my
life with his gospel and his religion and the power of his
personality, or so I was taught.
But you know, a funny thing happened; I moved in with various LDS
families so that the gospel could be taught to me first hand, and
the abuse and pornography and lies continued. When I would
approach a bishop for help in overcoming this and past abuse,
I've had some pretty intense counsel, such as: how old were you
when you were raped the first time? (I was 8) Well, then,
because you were at the age of accountability, you are morally
responsible for it; and also, you could have chosen to kill
yourself instead of being raped. Or, this is your cross to bear,
you chose it in the pre-existence, so deal with it! Or, smile
and endure to the end, even though priesthood abuse just kept
coming, they doubted me, not them.
I am a very good abused child, teenager, woman, Mormon woman. I
can do that all so well, endure to the end, keep serving, keep
smiling, serve, serve, serve, because you'll have it all in the
The problem is that after learning about Joseph Smith marrying
other women, and coming on to young teenagers, I felt nauseated,
deceived by the leaders of today's church. In fact, I never left
an abusive home - I joined another one with millions of members!
I am now being treated twice a week for post traumatic stress
disorder, and let me tell you, I feel like I've been kicked in
the stomach, and I am so glad that I've found all of you
exmormons! I was married in the temple, I've had seven callings
at one time; I joined 25 years ago and have seen many people go
through hell. I am glad to be working through this.
I think any time you leave any sort of group like the morg you
have feelings of self-recrimination...how could I have been so
foolish? let myself get sucked in? etc.. it seems pretty
normal, because you are seeing a much bigger picture than you
were in the beginning... I just try to remind myself that, had I
truly seen the whole big picture at the time, I no doubt would
have run away screaming... unfortunatly for us, the church is
really good at hiding the parts of the picture they don't want
you to see.... the lucky ones are the ones who, like us, saw
enough of it to realize that it wasn't a picture we wanted to be
That was one of my greatest sorrows about that church - that
they keep people from throwing themselves wholeheartedly and
joyously into that vast treasure house of learning and culture
that's out there and set themselves up as critics and detractors
of great literature and philosophy and so on. In spite of their
"Glory of God Is Intelligence," they seem to absolutely revel in
ignorance and simple-mindedness. I was often embarrassed for
people to know I was a Mormon and many times dismayed at the
spectacle of some ignorant hick proclaiming the superior
spiritual sensitivity and discernment of the Lord's chosen while
ridiculing the "learning of the world," etc. Sometimes I thought
it was a little like Ma Kettle reciting "a reel good pome" to
Emily Dickinson or Lord Byron. I was often so frustrated and
felt so deprived that I couldn't explore that great world out
there because worldly learning couldn't begin to compare with the
true gospel as revealed in the scriptures, not to mention that we
who were engaged in the Lard's work couldn't waste time on such
superfluous time stealers. I have a primal scream working its
way up into my throat from the thought of wasting 30 precious
years reading church books, church magazines, "scriptures," R.S.
and S.S. manuals, etc., when I could have been learning
I used to feel special too. I remember what a rush it was to
think I had the healing power of God. Man, I tell ya, I could
bless the sick with the best of them. Hell, my voice even
changed when I spoke with God's voice. Everyone felt so special
when I was finished. How many times did I bring tears to the
eyes of the sick and the lonely? I could almost feel the spirit
sliding through my hands and into the head of the anointed.
I could bless the sacrament as a priest with the best of
them too. I took that duty seriously. I memorized the prayers
and rehearsed them while at home. Several people came up to me
and told me how the spirit had touched them during those prayers.
Damn, I was good.
How funny it is to look back on it all now. To see how full
of shit it is. But also to see how real it can be to the people
who live it every day. To see it permeate their lives. I was
golfing last Friday with a guy who took it seriously. Both his
golf and his Savior. He prayed before he began playing. With the
first hole I could tell it was going to be a long day. He hit it
down the fairway, a nice shot in my book, and what did he say?
"Good thing I paid my tithing." Which might have been funny if
he hadn't been so damn serious. My ball also went down the
fairway and I was able to say... "Good thing I worship Satan."
I was solidly convinced that those outside of the church didn't
have the least clue as to what happiness could be theirs, if only
they'd join the One and Only True Church.
I spent way too much time on my mission trying to convince other
people that they weren't really happy, that they'd only know true
happiness if they let me baptize them. Fortunately, most of them
were wiser than I was then. But man, I look back and think of
what a jerk I was, presuming that I knew all these people weren't
happy, and that I had the only thing that could possibly change
it for them.
Indeed, when I left the church, that was one of the main things
my wife watched for, expecting me to become a miserable, unhappy
creature. When it didn't happen, that's when she began her own
quest, leading her out of the church, too.
Yes..."only we mormons are truly happy." I bought that one when
I was growing up, but couldn't figure out why I was the only
mormon that didn't feel truly happy. After I left I received a
five-page typewritten letter from my brother (who I guess was
"truly happy") telling me that nobody who isn't in the church
has "true happiness and joy." I made him take back all he said
in this letter years later, after his many years of agony in the
church made him leave. He is now truly happy out of the church.
I can tell this time that his happiness is real. The church has
no corner on happiness, or truth, for that matter. I guess if
you tell people they are happy enough times they will believe it.
Or at least pretend to so that they don't stand out in church as
There is a depression that goes with leaving the church. I have
been seperated from my family by it for years. I am beginning to
rebuild those relationships one by one after almost 15 years. I
had to seperate myself from them to get myself "deprogrammed."
If I stated I felt separated and wanted to be closer to them, I
used to hear that I had chosen to leave the church, so the
separation I felt was my own fault. I only need to come back and
all would be just great again... except that I would again feel
like a total hypocrite, as I didn't believe. I wasn't strong
enough early on to fight this battle. The thing was, I had left
the church, not my family. They left me, I didn't leave them.
Yesterday I told my sister that I get so angry with the church's
rhetoric about "family first." I have always found the priority
to be church, ward, family and finally God. I was a wreck by the
end of the conversation so I don't recall it all. A lot came
out, who knows what will happen next. She will either attempt to
be a part of my life or she won't. If not, I think I will walk
away. This time it will be her choice, not mine. I refuse to be
the only one trying, it's too painful. The church forces people
to choose the organization over their families. That in itself
should prove how false it is. But I would still take all the
floundering, depression and loneliness I felt over the years to
returning to the crap that is the morg.
I moved so far away partly because it is less lonely to
be among strangers than to be around people who you expect love
from and get nothing.
[The following is a translation of a post on the German e-mail
I am still in the process of freeing myself, after fourteen years
as a member and almost a year of trying to get free. I suppose
the process will take a long time, maybe even years, and maybe as
long as I live. Still, I can feel that I am growing tremendously
in the process. Nowadays I think much more critically and
analytically than I did before starting this process of
liberation. The quality of my life has improved, since I have
taken over for myself the control of my thoughts and acts and no
longer permit myself to be supervised and led by the church.
For more comments from former Mormons:
For more detailed stories from former Mormons about their leaving
Mormonism, go to the
© 2001 Richard Packham
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