Why did you leave or stay?
many mormons leave when they discover the actually documented truth about joseph smith, the origins of the church, and many other issues that the church covers up or doesn't tell the whole truth about. others leave because they learn about other religions and find inconsistencies or things that don't ring true for them within the church doctrine, or they open their eyes and realize the complete improbability and lack of any evidence for the book of mormon.
while these issues would eventually put the nail in the coffin for me, i first left for social and emotional issues such as what i talk about below. you could say my exit from the church was based more on an exit from the concept that there is any one true religion, although i chose to officially resign my membership for doctrinal reasons in the end.
- first of all, heavenly father and jesus kind of always scared the crap out of me. they seemed cruel and unfair, i had nightmares of the second coming and evil spirits frequently. they way they were taught to me at home and as a youth in church felt very imprisoning and spiritually and emotionally abusive.
- i grew up outside of utah and always noticed from a young age that non-member families were seemingly closer, more accepting of each other and had way more fun together than my "eternal family" did. they had rich full loving lives where the kids weren't made to feel incredibly guilty all the time! i was perplexed at how they could be truly kind and good people even without the fullness of the gospel. imagine that! and yet my parents spoke of them with such negative judgement.
- by high school i had extremely low self worth and guilt over the law of chastity and masturbation. while i could see some value in the social structure of the church, i was also struck by the playing of favorites and the gossiping and the dire importance of keeping up appearances -- and that made me very disillusioned. compared to what i knew of other religions and from books and movies and friends, i found the church procedures and my family to be full of hypocrisy and unrealistic expectations. i still totally believed that the gospel was true, knew the doctrine inside and out, was a model laurel's president, but there was always a deep nagging underlying feeling that the way the church worked was not consistent with who Jesus was supposed to be.
- i became inactive after high school. church was very uncomfortable for me. i researched other religious beliefs and found so much more that resonated with me. it wasn't unti i married a non-member and was around 24-25 that i finally got up the guts to google joseph smith and find out the truth. then i discovered ALL the truth, how illogical and based on untruths the creation of the book of mormon and church was. i spent some time just focusing on being joyful christianity influenced agnostic, but eventually i applied the same logic i had learned to the god question and i am now an atheist.
-last year after general conference and feeling so sick to my stomach around the prop 8 issue and the church's stance on gays, i decided even though i'm kinda proud i was raised in this unique wacky american culture that is mormonism, i could no longer in conscious remain a member of record.
so that in a very tight nutshell is why i left.
How did your family handle it?
as far as i know they are not aware that i have officially resigned. i have been the black sheep of my family since i was 16 and that has called for many shaming lectures, even a couple year or more long shunnings where there was no communication at all. at this point in time i am lucky to feel very strong with good personal boundaries finally developed. i have visited with my family a couple times in the past year after not seeing them for a few years and i am able to smile and enjoy them for who they are even though they stumble here and there to add there testimonies into normal conversations where ever possible. before, it used to be very difficult for me to be around them. 2 of my siblings know the extent of my disbelief. my parents don't want to have those kinds of conversations.
i will say it was hard. very very hard for many years. i'm almost 30 now and am relieved that it is getting better. the friendships i've made with other post mormons online were invaluable for helping me through these times.
Is it possible to be a semi mormon believing in some things and not others?
sure. a lot of mormons do this all the time. i did it for a good 5 years. the more i learned though, it became impossible to accept.
How do you raise your kids now if you have any?
i'm kind of an introverted person and have negative associations with attending church. there are some great religious communities out there with all the social benefits of the mormon church. if i were more inclined to need that sort of thing we would probably hang out at like a friends of quakers church or a unitarian universalist church.
otherwise i strongly feel i don't need a church or religion to model good social morals to my children. i just love them deeply, accept them for who they are. i'm not viewing them through a lens of-- they have to be good, they have to reach these milestones, they have to be spiritually obedient to me or they won't get to live with me forever. this is our life NOW, this is our chance to be together. i want them to go after their passions and dreams and have superb emotional and social health.
i also want them to hurry up and all get in school because i'm stick of being a stay at home mom and years beyond that lord knows i can't wait for them to be responsible adults that don't need me everyday so i can try and get some experience with traveling and dining out and just being a free woman by myself -- things i missed out on compared to my peers because i did kids and marriage instead of college and career.
i really appreciate this short video about a mom who left the church and how it has improved her parenting: http://www.iamanexmormon.com/2011/03/families-are-together-forever-my-name-is-kerri-bodie-and-im-an-ex-mormon/
Did any evil things happen to you for "rebeling"?
i sure used to be scared they might. mostly i've had some crappy things happen to me because the church and my family did not prepare me to be a responsible independent woman. i made some really poor choices. for example i'm ever-facing a potential divorce with a man who is a great person, but i only married him because he'd be a good provider, there is 0 chemistry, 0 compatibility. my parents think my lack of a fulfilling intimate marriage is because i am a sinner, and sinner get themselves into such situations. they act like they don't remember encouraging me to go ahead and marry him after 3 MONTHS only of knowing each other. better to get married than have premarital sex. the church and my parents did not prepare me AT ALL to find a compatible partner. just make sure the guy meets certain items on the checklist and you're good to go, right?
i no longer believe in satan. i thought i believed in karma for a little bit but i don't believe in that anymore either. i also don't believe in ghosts. life just happens. like i said above, i used to fear evil spirits but came to know that was a very limiting and painful MAGICAL THINKING type belief that i am so glad no longer rules my world view and decision making.
i would say NO, nothing evil happened to me for not being a perfect mormon or for leaving. but there were some very painful situations with my family, and some awkward figuring out how to fit in with the real world type situations.
How is it I was born and raised LDS, and was told to pray to know the truth and felt right about it and now I am feeling right to leave? Were those feeling a lie or did God change?
i won't get into prayer and god too much except for to say, trust yourself!
i don't believe that we can speak to god and get answers from him thru prayer. if you do i respect that. i think prayer has worth because it's a period of meditation wherein we can consider everything that makes us who we are: our genes, our experiences, our childhoods, our needs and wants, our instincts, and sometimes personal insights come to us when we question things in this manner.
when you thought you got answers of the truthfulness of the gospel in the past, it's probably because it was in line with your fears and hopes and wants and needs. now you are dealing with a different set of those things, now that things aren't working for you like you were told they were. god didn't change, you changed.
Did you ever read any anti moron literature in your decsion to leave? I have yet to research any as I feel like I will be lied to or not like what I read.
it took me quite a while to get up the guts to look up "anti" stuff. you have been told all your life that it is ANTI. it's true there are some ports of info out there that are hateful towards the church. today on the internet there is also, even mostly, very objective and factual looks at the church and it's doctrine. if you feel like it, i would suggest looking at some basics like wikipedia, or this documentary PBS put out on mormons: http://www.pbs.org/mormons/ . there are sources of factual info about the church, where the sources are very very concerned with truth and integrity.
plus there's even things like actual arrest records and court records and newspaper articles of joseph smith and all his marriages and other things. the church calls these anti. the world calls them history.
fear and magical thinking has been used against you to not research the church. they tell you to only look at church sources. you know how they always say, if you're going to buy a car you go to the dealership? ummmm, no you don't. you get consumer reports and do research and ask your friends and read studies to find out what is the safest best car for your family.
In a most light discission, did you go to the temple and how do you feel about that now?
i did not go to the temple as an adult. i did as a teen. i have both heartwarming and weird memories. mostly i'm struck by remembering the intense pressure and guilt associated with being temple worthy. i am however fully educated on the processes of other covenants. i certainly have opinions on those, and have read many others' opinions on those.
Do you still read the BOM?
i still own a couple. i've looked something up out of curiosity here and there over the past several years but no i don't read it. sometimes i like to giggle about horses and elephants and steel swords and thousands and thousands of dead warriors whose archeological evidence are supposedly somewhere in this world.
And most of all- for those who had the church totally engrained in every bit of who they were, how do you go about leaving the church as I feel like by doing so I have no idea who I am anymore?
HUGS to you. it gets better, it does. for many, leaving the church is breath of fresh air where they can fully develop themselves and get to know themselves and improve their lives right away. for me, the timing was coupled with the stress of raising young children, some depression etc etc, and i took it harder than i would like.
i definitely felt like i was no one sometimes, like my personality and abilities had been squashed or taken away from me by the strict religious indoctrination i grew up with and that i didn't know how to be in this new world. but i am so happy now, so excited to figure out what it really is that i want in life. at first it was heartbreaking to lose my worldview and faith in god. now it is very empowering to know i'm in control. (now to just figure out how to take control! lol)
some people take a good look at the truth and decide it is best for them to stay in the church, as more of a "cafeteria" mormon. that wasn't for me and i don't regret it.
i know what you are going thru mama and i'm here if you want a buddy. :) there's also a lot more like me on websites you've been told about already. ;)
Edited by momma4fun - 5/1/11 at 1:59pm