It was when I was the Gospel Doctrine teacher around 1984-87 that my doubts began to clamor for attention. I loved this calling; I loved the people who seemed to enjoy my classes. I taught by the spirit and not by the "sterile" lesson plans outlined in the manual. I could not stand before a group and simply follow the book - no need for anyone to come to class for that. But this caused me to get called into the bishop's office every once in a while to be reprimanded. I would remind him that I was doing what Boyd K. Packer admonished in the introduction of the lesson manual - "to teach by the spirit". But I definitely was told that I was walking on thin ice. I see now that if we are free thinkers we are a threat to the control the leaders have over us. That is the reason we are constantly told not to read anything unless it is approved by the General Authorities. Well, the more I studied for the lessons (and I studied and prayed many hours each week), the less things made sense to me. If I asked questions of anyone, I could tell it was the 'wrong' thing to do. Nobody wanted to talk to me about my doubts or try to show me the sense of things.
In about 1987, I was put in as a counselor in the Stake Young Woman's Presidency. I had never been converted to the young men and women's programs, so not only was it stressful because of being time consuming, I did not agree with what I was required to do. One time when I had been newly called, the pres. and I decided we would go to Salt Lake City to General Conference and talk personally with Ardith Capp - the Y.W. pres. over the church at that time. I was so sure that if we presented to her the complaints of the ward Y.W. pres. - which was that they were terribly overburdened, that she would help lighten their load. (I don't know how I expected her to do that, but I had hopes). Well, in her talk she quoted a letter from a ward pres. stating exactly what I was planning to say to her! I was excited! I thought sure we were going to be given some authority to go back and help the presidents. Then she quoted a letter from Pres. Ezra Taft Bensen (I never could accept him as prophet) which stated "if you could save one teen-ager from harm, you would crawl on your hands and knees to do so". I was so incensed at his (and her) insensitivity to the present needs of these mothers that were leaving their families at home so often to supposedly 'save' another child, and in doing so neglecting their own at home so later down the road another president might have to save them, that we left the second the meeting was over. I felt like I would explode if I stayed there one more minute. And explode I did when I reached the street. I started crying uncontrollably, almost shouting and waving my hands as I expressed my anger towards 'them' and their unreasonable control over our lives.
I had begun occasionally studying other religions and philosophies, new age stuff, and anything else that came across my path. I began to see that all religions have similar beginning 'myths', saviors, prophets and structure (dogma, rituals, doctrine) to keep the masses under control. I began to see that 'religion' is simply a powerful and charismatic person taking THEIR experiences and making it THE TRUTH and creating an organization. The more I realized that the LDS church wasn't "the only true church on the earth", the more I realized there was no true church on the earth!
Finally, in 1989, I went to the Stake counselor over the Y.W. program and asked to be released. I had just had a severe panic attack the day before and I decided that I needed to take control of my life or I was headed for disaster. I did not want to go to a doctor as many of my friends were doing and take anti-depressants, etc. I never thought that I might be experiencing PMS. The counselor was not very sympathetic. All he said was that they would 'begin' looking for a replacement and that it would take some time. I couldn't believe it! I needed relief now! I couldn't understand why he couldn't just go to the Lord and ask for a name to be revealed and get it. Surely the Lord knew of my predicament and already had a name! Eight months later I was finally released - after much reminding them and even being acting president for 2 months because the pres. moved away. In the meantime, I went to meetings, etc. and literally had to hold onto the sides of the chairs to not 'fly' out of them. If I would have had the courage I have now, I would have just said "goodbye" and walked away.
I have had many more "spiritual abuse" experiences, but this is sufficient to let you see why I left the church I am not crying 'victim'. I believe that these things would not have happened to me if I would not have let them. I am responsible for my own experiences and I feel that these things happened to me to anger me enough to have the courage to walk away from something I no longer believed in. Yes, I have had plenty of struggles with family and friends, but the peace I have found inside of me has been so healing that it has been worth the battle. I have never felt like this before and I will not give it up. Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you". He knew it was worth everything. And so it is with me.
So, that brings me to where I now am - a woman without a country, an oddity, an outsider, an APOSTATE! And I am at peace with that. I now read anything I want, eat and drink anything I want, wear what I want or don't want, go where I want when I want and I do not believe 'god' condemns me for that. I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. My relationship with my husband and children and family is better than it has ever been. Yes, I have 'glitches' that tell me there are things within me that still want working on. I look on them as part of the excitement of life - the discovery of myself and then the ability to look at things from a higher level. I believe each one of us is responsible for our own happiness. If someone asks about my beliefs, I am more than happy to share them, otherwise I will not talk about them. I in no way want to convert anyone to any particular way of thinking. I wrote this to see for myself where I am at, and what I read feels good. If it helps anyone to understand me better, great! If not, oh, well. It is not necessary to understand, agree or accept anything anyone else is or says. However, if there is a desire to have a good relationship with someone, there is the need to adjust. This works! I apply it frequently. My parting words are this: " MAY WE LIVE IN LOVE AND FREEDOM - WHICH IS FOUND WITHIN US - WHEREIN GOD DWELLS. THIS IS MY DESIRE FOR ALL HUMANITY!"
Cut to fourteen years later, when I, the oldest of five children (almost average size for a family in this area) started doubting the church, actually the idea of God in general. Even though this was the first time I had conscious doubts in my mind my whole childhood I wasn't really a traditional Mormon kid. Sure I knew all the correct answers to questions, "What are you going to do when you're 19?" "Go on my mission." But I can honestly say that in my entire time in the church I never once bore my testimony. Honestly, when I was a child I didn't even know what a testimony really was. Therefore, how could I give one? One of the biggest things that got to me when I started doubting was the baptism at the age of eight. The church claims the child makes the decision, but rarely is this the case (maybe if the kid's a prodigy). I really don't understand how anyone can be expected to make such a big decision at such a young age. At that age you're still relying on what your parents say is right. I realize that other churches that perform baptisms do it at birth, but they don't pretend it was the child's choice.
When I started writing this I was trying to remember what it was that triggered my doubts about the church, especially at such a young age. At the age of fifteen I had decided in my mind for sure that the church wasn't true and that there was no God. I am nearly twenty now and still an Atheist. I'd like to add that this is the first time I've said that where I know I won't have that held against me. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this web site, I have found you people to be very open-minded, which was something I rarely found in the church. Sorry to get off track just then. I guess what my triggered my doubting was a little odd. You see at the age of fourteen I became and still am a vegetarian. When I made this public I was criticized greatly by people in the church. Such comments is "God put them on the earth for us" were not uncommon. But as I was reading the Word of Wisdom in the Mormon written Doctrine & Covenants I found the following (I swear this will be my only scripture quote). D&C 89:12-13 "Yeah, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they SHOULD NOT BE USED (emphasis added), only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." After finding this one example of hypocrisy within the church (that and/or ignorance of your own doctrine), it was very easy to find others. I showed the above verse to my very TBM mother, who drew the same conclusions I did about it's meaning. Although to this day she still ignores it. After seeing how much they ignored their own scriptures it wasn't surprising to me that they ignore the bible. For you see Mormon doctrine accepts the bible "only as far as it is translated correctly." I've come to find this to mean they get to ignore anything in it that contradicts their beliefs, including their authority to hold the priesthood among other things. At this point I started researching the historical evidence of the Book of Mormon only to find there wasn't any. I really don't feel a need to go into great detail on this since there is plenty of documentation on this site for those who want to research that topic.
Because my father was the bishop when I was growing up I didn't have an official bishop's interview until I was sixteen. This bishop was a nice man, and to this day we're still good friends, but when I voiced my problems to him he just told me to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. While he was a nice man he had no special training in dealing with psychological problems and it bothered me that I was expected to go to someone with no expertise with my biggest problems. I also didn't like that when I finally did go to him with my problems he didn't offer any real answers.
The biggest reasons for my leaving the church however, didn't have to with the church specifically, although their belief in a God who doesn't sound very Christian to me didn't help matters. I can't remember which story it was but "Cosmic Terrorist" fits extremely well. It was my inability to find any evidence of God, and as such I felt I had to reject ALL religions that believed in this philosophy. But now years later, I see the mind control in the Mormon church and resent that aspect of it. As I mentioned earlier I considered myself non-Mormon at the age of fifteen. I didn't stop going until I was almost eighteen because I was afraid of what other people, mostly my parents, would think. Because of this I attended Seminary through most of high school (remember, I live in Utah, so I took it during the day just like any other class). One of the moments that stuck out in my mind during these years follows: During one class my junior year the issue of plural marriage came up and one girl who until then I thought of as a "Molly Mormon" (I'm a horrible judge of character and as such I try not to let first impressions get the better of me) was quite vocal about her feelings about it and asked if it was true the church believed it would be practiced in heaven. The teacher was forced to answer yes, and we could all see she was very frustrated. His only response was that she would have to trust in God and it would all be revealed to her later. She didn't seem too happy with this response but stopped discussing it anyway because some of the other kids in the class were giving her a hard time. I saw her about a year later and she had become inactive. It was around the time of this discussion that I realized I wasn't alone. The biggest reason I've seen for people being unable to leave the church, is the sense of community it brings. I compare it to the youth gangs around here. Like the church it gives them a sense of belonging they've been unable to find anywhere else. And just like in the Mormon church they find it hard to leave for fear of the retaliation of the other members.
While the church hasn't resorted to
killing anyone for leaving the church (as far as I know
The author of this 2nd story can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The author of this 2nd story can be reached at: email@example.com