|Subject:||Leaving the Mormon Church: Personal, versus Intellectual, Turning Points|
|Date:||Jan 03 05:24 2004|
|Leaving Mormonism: The Role of Bad Experience
In one of his consistently substantive and interesting contributions to this forum, Deconstructor made some pertinent observations about the recent tension on this board between theists and atheists, in the context of recovering from Mormonism:
. . . [S]omething . . . has always baffled me about this board and Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church in general.
When I first started posting my exposé’s on Mormonism, everyone was cheering me on. I'd quote prophets and Mormons scripture and everyone was supportive and agreeable.
Then one day I made the mistake of making a list of New Testament scriptures, just as I had done with the Book of Mormon. I was totally surprised at the response. Suddenly all of these ex-Mormons who had understood and appreciated a list of questionable BoM passages went berserk when I did the same with the New Testament. My approach was the same, but the reaction was completely different. And the response was personal attacks on me instead of refuting what I said with actual facts.
I realized then . . . that a lot of ex-Mormons really haven't recovered from the magical/superstitious thinking.
I think this gets back to something you said to me when we talked at Fuddruckers. You said something like "people don't leave for intellectual reasons, but because they've had a bad experience of some kind." I'd like you to elaborate on that, because I think that explains why we all take different paths after exiting Mormonism.
We didn't all leave for the same reasons. Some leave and still want to go to church every Sunday and hear about Jesus. Some still want to pray and feel like God is watching over them and blessing them. Some still want to feel like they are in the one-and-only true church of Christ. I even know an atheist ex-Mormon who still wears garments because he says they are comfortable!
Personal Breaking Points in Leaving the Mormon Church
In response to Decon’s invitation, I would note that, based on both my own individual experience and my general observation of others, that many individuals end up leaving Mormonism for a combination of reasons: personal, emotional and intellectual—but that it is often the negative personal experiences that tend to crystallize, focus and propel them to take the final step of actually disassociating from the LDS Church.
These personal experiences can take many forms, including:
--marital stress with a TBM spouse or with other family members;
--the discovery of acts of hypocrisy or other inappropriate conduct by formerly trusted and respected Church members and/or leaders;
--a sense of personal betrayal or abusisve treatment at the hands of Church authorities; and
--conflicts with Church leaders who misuse their authority in heavy-handed efforts to control one’s individual life and decisions.
My Intellectual Path Toward Jettisoning Mormonism
For years leading up to my ultimate decision to resign from Church membership, I had been actively investigating several basic issues of Mormon doctrine, history and practice, including:
--the historicity of the Books of Mormon and Abraham;
--the “translation” of the fraudulent Kinderhook Plates;
--the Masonic origins of the Mormon temple ceremony;
--the rewriting and altering of Church history;
--the question of consistency within Mormon doctrines;
--the racist and sexist teachings of Mormon scripture; and
--the reversal and denial of official Mormon teachings
The more I studied in these areas (reading many sources from both “pro” and “con” perspectives), the more I developed an intellectual resistance to, and eventual disbelief in, bedrock Mormon claims. In fact, I had reached the point of intellectual rejection of most of the above areas some time before I formally withdrew from the Church.
Breaking from Activity
Even in the final stages of my growing intellectual disenchantment with Mormonism, I nonetheless remained active, as I struggled up to the last moment attempting to reconcile my growing doubts with my continued, but declining, activity.
Ultimately, however, the rift between the two became so wide that I found it necessary to put my Church participation on hold, without actually yet resigning my membership.
For instance, when I concluded that there was no other reasonable explanation to account for the obvious connection between the LDS temple rituals and the rites of Freemasonry, I stopped paying tithing and discontinued temple attendance.
When I reached the point where I could no longer accept the Book of Mormon as an authentic historical document, I notified my bishop that I could not, in good conscience, continue teaching my Aaronic Priesthood class that it was a genuine ancient artifact. I did, however, offer to continue instructing the young men under my charge, on the condition that I be allowed to focus on issues of human character development and general moral behavior—but not on the Book of Mormon. My bishop found this offer unacceptable and released me.
I eventually discontinued my home teaching duties and requested that the home teachers assigned to our family stop making their monthly visits.
I turned down a calling from the stake president to be ward mission leader.
In short, I needed time and space to deal with the steadily growing gap between what I had been taught was true about Mormonism and what I was discovering was, in reality, false about Mormonism.
My Own Personal Experiences: The Basis for My Ultimate Break from Mormonism
As important as my intellectual awakening to the falsity of Mormon claims was to my eventual decision to leave the Church, the most powerful influence in that ultimate decision took the form of personal experiences, from youth to adulthood, which served to raise growing doubts in my mind about the Church’s claims to divine and singular authority over my life.
What made these personal experiences even more powerful to me than the intellectual arguments was their direct and obvious effect on my individual life, as brought on by people I knew and had contact with in the Church--from family, to teachers, to Church leaders.
The cumulative effect of these personal experiences led me to make the final decision to leave the Mormon Church. The intellectual reasons served to reinforce and validate that decision.
What follows is a list of the personal experiences, in cumulative order, that formed the underpinnings for my decision to resign my membership in the Church. These included:
--the failure of a priesthood “healing” blessing, given to me as a young boy while hospitalized for pneumonia, to have any discernable effect on my recovery;
--the false promise made to me in my patriarchal blessing that I would return from my full-time mission to find things just about the way I left them. Contrary to the blessings assurances, my girlfriend, whom I wanted to marry, died barely six weeks into my mission. Within a year, several members of my Seminary class, along with their instructor, were killed or injured in a tornado while returning from a Church trip to Nauvoo;
--the failure of “the Spirit” to register positively when I heard a flamboyant youth fireside speaker reveal to us the Masonic origins of the Mormon temple ceremony (including garment wearing), even though many of my peers in attendance were moved to Holy Ghost-inspired tears;
--my family’s discouragement of me from making any public reference to struggles I had experienced on my mission with my own testimony, insisting to me that I, in fact, possessed a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and that it was my duty to set an example for others in the Church to follow;
--unjustified perks and privileges provided family members of high-ranking Church leaders, including free passes to General Conference that were expressly off-limits to non-family members; reserved seating in the Tabernacle for relatives of Church leaders; and access to special lunches for the kin of General Authorities during Conference proceedings;
--the effort of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson (after being solicited to intervene by my parents), to stop my planned marriage to Mary Ann. He did so by abusively invoking his authority as President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles in order to exact my compliance—commanding me that I should defer to parental “inspiration” and seek family peace, rather than make my own decision on whom I should marry;
--the refusal of a trusted BYU professor to answer my growing doubts about Book of Mormon historicity, saying that I needed to put them on the shelf and accept LDS scriptures on faith;
--the on-the-spot demand of another BYU instructor (in a private interview into which he called me) that I bear him my testimony of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior (I felt intruded upon and left the encounter in tears);
--the efforts by my grandfather and other family members to stop me from completing an undergraduate BYU research paper on the Church’s official position on the theory of organic evolution, fearing that it would be critical of Mormon leadership and undermine faith and testimony in the Brethren;
--the refusal of Church leaders (including President Spencer Kimball, Apostles Bruce R. McConkie and Mark E. Peterson, Correlation Committee Director Roy Doxey, Kimball’s personal secretary Arthur Haycock and my grandfather) to give me direct and straightforward answers to my questions on the subject of organic evolution; combined with the Church’s refusal to honestly acknowledge to its members the actual history of the official LDS position on organic evolution on the grounds that to do so would be too controversial;
--the extremist political views personally conveyed in our home by my grandfather and other family members, including that the U.S. civil rights movement was Communist-inspired; that President Eisenhower himself may have been a Communist; that political liberals (such as apostles Hugh B. Brown and Neal A. Maxwell) could not be good Church members; that the John Birch Society was the most effective organization (outside the Mormon Church) in fighting Communism; and that the Beatles were Kremlin understudies groomed to sow revolution in America;
--the attitude in certain quarters of the Benson family, conveyed to me as a 4th-grader on the day he was assassinated, that President John F. Kennedy deserved to be killed;
--the preaching of racist religious and political doctrines in my home and/or in the Church—including opposition to school integration; support of segregationist George Wallace’s presidential platform as being more in line with those of the Founders than that of either the Republican or Democratic parties; spiritual discrimination against those of African and Native American descent, on the basis of their skin color supposedly indicating a sinful legacy; opposition to my participation in demonstration marches urging the passage of a Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday in Arizona; and the refusal of the Mormon Church to officially endorse passage of a King holiday in Arizona;
--efforts by an anonymous Mormon Apostle, local Arizona Church leaders and Mormon political authorities to silence my Mormon-related public cartoon criticism of LDS governor Evan Mecham--including direct contact from the state regional representative of the Church with me, a phone call to my stake president from H. Burke Peterson of the Presiding Bishopric and complaints from a Mormon state senator—all which led to my eventual removal from the stake high council; this combined with efforts by local Mormon Mecham supporters to have me excommunicated for my opposition to Mecham, whom they claimed had been elected by God’s will;
--a warning from my hometeacher that if I did not stop asking critical questions about the Book of Abraham, I would be excommunicated;
--personal meetings with my stake president about my growing disillusionment with Mormon Church doctrines and practices, followed by his personal letters to me, in which he accused me of being consumed with pride and in the grip of Satan, and in which he also warned me to cease my public cartoon criticism of unequal treatment of LDS women by the Mormon Church;
--criticism by a local Mormon male stake youth leader of Mary Ann’s Sunday School lesson to a joint young men’s and young women’s class, in which she taught that during the last days of Jesus’ life, his female friends were more faithful and brave than were his own apostles (a criticism that was, in typical Mormon sexist fashion, relayed to me by the stake leader, rather than directly to Mary Ann);
--efforts by Mormon Church General Authorities and members of my own family to discourage me from speaking the truth about the Church’s deliberate misrepresentations of my grandfather’s actual physical and mental health, combined with the threat from my own family that if I continued to speak out publicly about his health, I would be barred from seeing my grandfather; this last warning was issued to me in the name of protecting God’s prophet from enemies in the press (of which I happened to be a member); and, finally,
--admissions by Apostles Neal Maxwell and Dallin Oaks in private conversations with Mary Ann and myself in their Church offices just prior to us leaving Mormonism, which included discussion of what they themselves regarded as problems with Book of Mormon historicity; failed prophecies of Mormon Church presidents; contradictory accounts of the First Vision; Joseph Smith’s inconsistent behavior in the wake of receiving the First Vision; difficulties with Smiths’ alleged Book of Abraham translation; the role of F.A.R.M.S. in protecting the Quorum of the Twelve from criticism; the actual means by which revelation is received by Mormon prophets; public lies made by Oaks about Apostle Boyd K. Packer’s inappropriate involvement in a Salt Lake City excommunication case; the nature of Maxwell’s and Oaks’ own testimonies of the Gospel; their obsessive concern for secrecy concerning our conversations with them; and their compulsion to pry into our personal lives regarding our individual worthiness to ask them questions in the first place.
Conclusion: Leaving the Church Because of Negative Personal Experiences, Not Intellectual Arguments
Many questioning Mormons harbor serious intellectual doubts about the claims of the Church. These concerns are real, valid and substantial.
But it is often the grinding effect of jarring, personal, negative experiences in their own lives with Mormon Church authority, family pressure, leader and member hypocrisy, individual betrayal and a feeling of suffocating control that leads many of them to finally make their escape from the captivity of Mormon confinement.
That certainly was the case for me--and, judging from the wrenching personal stories shared here on this Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church board--also the case for many others.
|Subject:||Re: Leaving the Church: Personal, versus Intellectual, Turning Points|
|Date:||Jan 03 05:58|
Hope you enjoyed a few quiet moments away from the firing line yesterday with your lovely bride. Half a century is ok. I'm looking forward to the second half and I'm happy that you are as well, o ancient one. Tempus fugit when yer having fun, no?
You hit spot on with your insight about emotional vs intellectual triggers that detonate the dis-Mo-ing landmine. Remind me to show ya my scars sometime.
Happy 2004, Reg
|Date:||Jan 03 09:45|
|Excellent post Steve, thank you.
My own experiences were similar in many ways. It took a long succession of realizations, after which I would slide back down into the abyss, making rationalizations along the way trying to justify the incongruencies between what was taught and what reality was showing me.
I've belatedly come to realize that I would likely have left much sooner if not for the family pressures and expectations to conform. Mine was a very tight knit family that did not have understanding for non-belief.
In looking back it's interesting how many 'turning points' I went through. For some a turning point is massive: 90 or 180 degrees, mine was 1/2 of a degree at a time and only after much resistance. But it turned, however slowly.
In Gospel Doctrine class I stopped using the lesson manual, except as a subject header, and created my own lessons - one's that did not offend my own sense of self. But that was ultimately only a half way measure, I soon came to understand that, for me, all religion was a crutch.
It was equally difficult to openly express this new understanding. Mormondom has raised the techniques of individualistic suppression to an art form. Thanks to this board and the members on it who create this space for expression more and more people are working their way out.
|Subject:||(edit)In my experience, talking to hundreds of ExMormons on line, it is the negative|
|Date:||Jan 03 11:33|
|experiences that broke the code to the emotional
attachment, and then, the intellectual component kicked in when new
information was absorbed.
When I ask: When did you leave and why, most of the reasons are about unfair treatment, abusive relationships, feeling unaccepted and a many, many other reasons.
Much of the time, the negative experiences are enough to drive people away and they are so severely impacted they never get to the intellectual part. The poor treatment alone is enough.
Never mind that Joseph Smith Jr. lied and the Book of Mormon is fiction. They are through with Mormonism because of how they were treated and it is not a pretty picture.
And that is how many people live the rest of their lives. Stuck in that emotional state of a love/hate relationship with Mormons and the Mormon Church. They hate it but can't get out from under it, completely.
Some have such a hatred of Mormons (all of them) they never get past it (nor do they want to) and the emotional scars last a lifetime. I know people who go to their grave hating Mormons and everything about the LDS church.
For myself, I was negatively impacted by the lies and unfair treatment by the leadership and members for years and years and years, just as most of us were.
That is why, when someone asks if I left because I was "offended" I reply that if everyone who was offended left, there would be no one there!
There are layers and layers of negative experiences in Mormonism for most of the members. But they keep repeating their mantra: "the Gospel is perfect but the people are not" and go right on, day after day, paying tithing, going to the temple, praying and obeying and asking Heavenly Father to be forgiven, rarely realizing that they were OK all along, it is the whole basis for the Mormon Church that is a lie and a hoax.
Outsiders do not have any idea of how difficult it is to get out of the Mormon Church if you are emotionally connected by family, friends, and years and years of service and devotion.
Somehow, I realized that I was not the problem, emotionally or intellectually but that is not what I was told, taught and had drilled into me by Mormon doctrines, either overtly or covertly. It was the intellectual part, when the information kicked in that was factual that I was able to get past the conflicted negatively impacted emotional part and I was on my way out!
No one leaves Mormonism until something gets their attention, and it is usually a series of events that causes such upheaval in our sense of what makes sense that we open the door to making a change. And, from my observation, that is generally emotionally driven.
Yes, I was "offended" by Mormonism. I am always offended by lies and con artists and people demanding money for a defective product!
|Subject:||Re: Leaving the Mormon Church: Personal, versus Intellectual, Turning Points|
|Date:||Jan 03 12:21|
|great subject and post. There are numerous reasons
why people leave the morg, and even more reasons for how or when they
leave. I knew the church wasn't true or at least had serious flaws 25
years ago. It took 25 year of languishing in the insipid, closed minded,
parochial, quagmire of 'eternal bliss' before I realized the social
reasons for staying just weren't enough to put up with the garbage.
Other reasons brought on in the past 10 years include a total absence of
the teachings of Jesus in mormon practices; ie., endless meetings
keeping me away from my family, absolute control over members,
effectively removing forgiveness and the atonement through labeling --
did not go on a mission, did not marry in the temple, smokes, drinks,
gay, and so on, exclusion of blacks, gays, democrats, intellectuals, and
anyone that does not agree with them or cannot keep their mouth shut,
building large and spacious buildings, forgetting the poor and needy,
ministering, etc. This is a pretty long list of important teachings for
the one and only true church to be forgetting.
|Subject:||Re: Leaving the Mormon Church: Personal, versus Intellectual, Turning Points|
|Date:||Jan 03 12:28|
|I concur with most that has been written. However,
with the exception of my relations with my first mission president, I
have had generally very positive experiences with members and priesthood
leadership. Lucky me. Although I was having doubts intellectually about
the church almost from day 1, on balance it was a positive experience.
Over time, however, the weight of intellectual contradictions became so
overpowering and, I'll admit it, a great desire to commit
"sin" (of which there is only one kind in Christendom), that I
just quietly left and no one has really tried too terribly hard to bring
me back in. Lucky me again. If you're going to leave the church then
point out the intellectual flaws. I find no benefit in personal attacks
|Subject:||my appointment to the stake high council took place several years before I left the church|
|Date:||Jan 03 13:13|
|and during a time when I was still working on trying
to bolster my faith in Mormonism.
Back then, I was of the mindset that I should accept callings extended to me by the Lord's anointed, who were, I was told, inspired of God to make the call in the first place.
|Subject:||My turning points|
|Date:||Jan 03 12:54|
|There were a few, although I can remember the first
one that really shattered me. I remember being a TBM, no doubts, in a
Bookstop bookstore in Mesquite, TX and going, Hmm ... I wonder what all
the fuss about "The Godmakers" is all about. So I picked it up
and read it. I was shocked, to say the least. I went to Christian
bookstores and picked up every Anti-cult book out there and read
voraciously. Up until that point, I was doing fine, but it was like a
whole new world was opened up to me that I did not know existed. It was
time for my first rebellion, and it felt GOOD!
I was engaged at the time to a Baptized for Me Mormon, and we both quit our position in the Primary. That was a pretty dumb move I've found repeated time and time again ... They have no knowledge of the church, let's stick them in a Primary calling! Keep them in the Milk phase! There was only one ward where I regularly got to go to both Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society, and that was the Singles Ward in Fort Worth. But I digress.
We broke up soon after that. I decided that maybe I was just being negative becuase I was tired of the guilt I was having because of sexual relations with my fiancee. Now that I was unburdened, I could try church again. I went three times and then never went again. This sister in the singles ward, a very "devout" girl, went on this tirade in Relief Society about how when people leave the church they really know it's true but are afraid to live the standards blah blah blah, you all know the drill. It pissed me off. I remember thinking, "Um, no, I just had questions I could not answer." During that stint, I met my best friend, who I am still very close to after 11 years, so it was worth going back. Oh, and he's gay and inactive. I truly believe he'd go back to church if the church all of a suddent became at least neutral about gays.
So I dropped out for years, but decided in my mid-20's to try again, because I was lonely. I went to a family ward and two different singles wards during a three year time. I never dated, and made no friends except for a wonderful missionary who I was nuts about but couldn't really be "friends" with because Heaven forbid a boy missionary talk to a girl member. I finally dropped out after I realized that Elder Wagner and I were not meant "to be", and met my dear husband a month later.
Right now I am going through a phase where I am trying to read as much objective history as I can and learn about the history of the church and its members. I already have a testimony of the falesness of the love towards me by church members and I have a testimony of the falseness of the priesthood. Now I'm learning historical reasons for "sacred" things, and the puzzle pieces are falling into place.
|Subject:||Re: My turning points|
|Date:||Jan 03 13:04|
|One of the main reasons I left the church was
am gay. The church offers me no support or wanted anything
to do with me - or other homosexual's for that matter.
If you have not seen the cartoon I made for Latter-Day
Lampoon about the LDS Gay and Lesbian Crisis Help Line, you
are missing a real gem! (I sent a copy of that cartoon to
LDS Church offices... I don't think they were amused.)
I would love to meet other gay and lesbian mormons, or ex-
mormons even. It's kind of hard to do when everyone is
afraid to express and be themselves and stay locked in the
closet! (Thoes day's for me are over!)
|Subject:||There's An Expression in 12-Step Circles . . .|
|Date:||Jan 03 13:31|
|It takes what it takes . . .
In order to hang onto any pretense of profundity, I'm reduced to repeating this.
You're certainly welcome to appropriate it since you've obviously earned it . . .
I'm reminded of the night the fellow who holds the Utah record for DUI's came running into a meeting proudly holding his new driver's license (I think it took him five years of hard work). We were all pleased for him and also grateful we hadn't been that stubborn (that's not a dig, just an observation, Mary Ann. BTW, I'm sure that lurker was motivated by jealousy) . . .
One role I see for this BB is to aid and facilitate those processes at least a little; that's an awful lot of effort to have to spend, and certainly church actions figured in cracking your denial.
And congratulations on the half-century mark.
|Subject:||Praising Steve. (My personal views and experiences) (Foul lingo)|
|Date:||Jan 03 13:57|
|You know I remember you were the talk of Edgemont Provo for a long while, people made countless blanket criticisms
of you, and of course these were Mormons who didn't know you from Jesus
Steve Benson this, Steve Benson that.
Steve Benson is bad; he is an apostate, bad Steve, bad bad Steve!
I would have to say that the people didn't have a thing to do with my exit from Mormonism at all. It was more the fact that if I kept doing things the way I was doing I was going to POP!
I could not handle the guilt and the expected societal suppression of my humanity. Intellectually speaking, I was (still am) an idiot; yes I did care about the many inconsistencies and stupidities of Mormonism, and did so much reading on the subject it was beginning to take all my time. But I really am not all that bright, decisions I have made in the past is proof of this. And many of the ways I was trained to think, and many of the stigmas I absorbed growing up, are still very much a part of me.
Initially I just could not handle the conformity; it was driving me f**king cookoo.
Three months into my Mormon marriage, a pregnant wife, and I was just beginning to open my eyes for a few doses of reality. People on this board have guided me down a path of intellectual reasoning, not because of my own abilities in the area, but because of theirs. And though I may be slow, I will get the truth of the matter sooner or later, but not until I feel comfortable with it.
Well, if it weren’t for people around here I would be one confused little boy today, and probably a very scared little boy today.
I don't think I express enough appreciation for the people around here who have helped me and guided me in finding my true self. It's obvious the task is nowhere close to being finished, but I sure am much further today because of the people around here.
Even the anon trolls have been a source of enlightenment for me in their own special way.
So the people in the church, they did nothing for the development of me, nor did I make a decision to leave the church because of people in the church. But because of good-hearted exmormon intellectuals, today I am shaking this whole Mormon thing and doing well.
I got to hand it ya Benson, those cojones of yours are coconut sized and made of steel, one aspect of you I will always admire, I could disagree with everything else about you and think you were the biggest jack-off on the face of the planet. But that would never take away from the fact that YOU GOT BIG ONES!
And I think that's the best lesson you can teach, because Exmormons just don't have what it takes to stand up sometimes, but Jesus, you got it down pat.
Oh, and just so you know, I hate kissing peoples asses under any circumstances, I don't like giving too much praise to other people being a seeker of attention myself.
So no I am not trying to make friends with you nor am I intentionally sticking my nose where the sun don't shine in order to get you to like me, because the truth is, in the end I really don't care what you or anyone else thinks.
Just can't help but point out these things about you that I believe every exmo should try and implement into their lives.
So when I say nice things about a persons characteristics you know it's honest.
Anyway, **Cheers** to Steve and his coconut sized cojones, we should all try and be more like the guy in this respect.
|Subject:||This board has been good for me.|
|Date:||Jan 03 14:13|
|Posts like Steve's give me insight into how difficult it is for entrenched members to leave the Mormon church. My exit was comparatively very simple. From age 12 to age 16 I gradually realized that the church was false and I gradually decreased by level of attendance at meetings. Then at age 17 I finally quit completely. Nobody outside our family really seemed to notice. And my parents didn't give me a hard time because they knew it would be fruitless. I had it easy.|
|Subject:||My own perspective (long+ un-Theo like cussing)|
|Date:||Jan 03 15:37|
|BTW, nice post Steve and I hope you enjoyed your
birthday amidst atheist/theist armageddon of yesterday.
Most of the abuse I experienced as a member occurred after I stopped going to church. The excellent treatment I received by members of the church kept me active in the church longer than I would have if I had listened totally to my intellect.
Steve, your list includes things that caused me to doubt the church and I've stated those before. Your grandfather's strident conservatism being among them.
The study of biology and the unwillingness of the church to come to grips with evolution was another.
The curse of skin pigmentation was to me one of the most insidious philosophical hurdles for me to overcome and remain active in the church.
All the time that I was having doubts, my Mormon friends from my old home ward were kind and thoughtful. They were like family, and I kept my doubts hidden from their eyes and ears because I didn't want to hurt them and disparage their beliefs.
My last church assignment was as an Elder's Quorum instructor in a student ward. I purposely kept the lessons common sensical and steered away from excessively dogmatic and scriptural concepts.
During the eighties, I found maintaining and building relationships with Mormon young women increasingly difficult. My pervasive doubts contrasted sharply with the devout blind obedience of the available women. I knew marrying one of them had the potential for disaster down the road and this scared me. I was nearly engaged to a sincerely devout lady whose fastidious note taking during General Conference scared the matrimony right out of me. I toyed with the idea of dating non-Mormons but always shied away knowing the wrath I would experience at home.
In 1990, I was relieved as Elder's Quorum instructor because I was now graduated and was instructed to attend a residential ward. I found this to be the opportunity I needed to become inactive for a while and see if I missed going to church. I didn't.
I began involving myself more and more into politics and ultimately ran for public office in 1994 as a Democrat. I lost the election but in the course of running ran into a Democratic delegate whom I would eventually marry. She was Lutheran and I managed to weather the storms caused by some family opposition.
I flurted with re-activity a couple of times as a married person, but when the local bishop pressured me to pressure my wife to take the discussions, it was all over. I haven't attended my current Ward since.
During the late 90's, my brother slipped up and found his way to ex-communication. His TBM wife stood by him and he grovelled his way back into the fold. At this same time, my mother became afflicted with rapidly debilitating Alzheimer's. As my brother was re-baptized (I've told this story before but I'll tell it again), he invited me to the service. I went to support my brother because it was important to him.
After the baptism and confirmation, the Stake President stood up and spoke. This arrogant bastard proceeded in front of my ailing mother to call me to repentance and shamed me for not holding fast to the vows I made in the temple.
Now, my poor mother got up and gave the closing prayer in one of the most painful experiences of her life. That was her last public prayer. After that, she declined rapidly and died last May. I now live in fear that I'll run into this arrogant jerk and tell him what I think of him. Ironically, his parents are people whom I care for deeply and would do anything for.
So I guess it can go both ways. I remained in the church despite doubts for a while, but when the doubts became too much and caused me to curtail my activity, my treatment as an inactive member pushed me over the edge.
So here I am, someone who was loved and nurtured in the Mormon church who has turned his back on it. Because of the depth of love and gratitude I have for so many devout members, I suppose my recovery will be long.
Sorry for the length.
|Subject:||God died with mormonism for me|
|Date:||Jan 03 15:50|
|Well at least the God with flowing white hair and
eyes of fire and voice of thunder God.
If there is a God, that being is unknowable in the traditional way of the human senses. If that is the case, then it is mostly irrelevant to speak of God in any way that relates to the human and physical scene.
In a way God for me exists like my dreams. I know I have them, but there is no way for anyone else to ever experience them.
Secondly, if there is a God, and God is omnipresent, then I would be part of that omnipresence and hence be part of God. If I am part of God, and nothing exists except for God, then I might be all of God.
I am GOD
|Subject:||Re: God died with mormonism for me|
|Date:||Jan 03 16:07|
|Hello God, I have been looking for you.
:) God, I hope you understand, but
Thanks for sharing the stories, they give me courage.
I have decided to leave the church because of the research I have done in my own families geneology (My great great something was a polygamist wife who kept a diary) and I have been struggling for about six years now with the truth. Ive read everything I could on both sides of the equation FARMS and pro-arguements, also negative. I've studied different religions including taoism, and I've read the scriptures and prayed and fasted and all that jazz.
I have a very good relationships with the people at church so I know it will hurt them when I stop coming. My husband is very hurt and worried about me, I haven't told my children yet. BUT I don't think they'll miss the mind numbing Sundays really.
But I can't divide myself from God in the same way it seems many people here have...He's been there for me when no one else has and not through any kind of religion either so if I talk about "Him" like He's a real person, forgive me I am not trying to shove my belief in Him down anyone's throat.
If you prefer I'll call Him Bob.
Bob has been a friend of mind for a long time. Yes you can accuse my brain of having too many electrical bleeps in the fog of my intellect. But hey, I am fine with that.
As for bad experience with people in the church, I don't think that is a good enough reason to leave anything. If you deal with people there will always be some kind of friction or conflict, that is just life.
It is that manipulation and the "guilt" trips and the never ending list of the things needed to be done in order to be "perfect"
I am sick of it, I am perfect as I am, at least for those that love me.
|Subject:||I got to the point where I didn't want it to be true.|
|Date:||Jan 03 16:19|
|If it were true, then God is the ultimate male
Steve, I didn't have anywhere near the personal baggage your family loaded on you. My family was semi-active in the church when I was growing up, and I knew my parents didn't believe everything the church taught, even though they thought the church did a lot of good.
I think if the church hadn't treated women so badly, I might not have ever questioned whether it was "true." But because of the way they treat women, I really didn't want it to be true, because if it was true, women were eternally second-class citizens. I didn't want to believe in that kind of god. That made researching the historical issues easy.
Fawn Brodie said leaving the church was like taking off a heavy coat in the summer. I think that is an excellent metaphor. It was very liberating to dump the Mormon baggage.
|Subject:||I left the church for many reasons|
|Date:||Jan 03 16:35|
which can be distilled into one answer, it was not the truth.
Thanks to Decon and all the people on this board who've provided substantive information regarding the truth or untruth of the mormon church, the bible, christianity and religion in general, I'm better able to make informed decisions about what I do or do not believe in.
If some take offense at the information that Decon has provided I'd have to surmise that they made a personal choice to be offended, given that he took material from text and not from off the top of his head.
|Subject:||They Kicked me out....|
|Date:||Jan 03 17:00|
|some of you have perhaps read my experience with an
LDS court of Love...basically I was excommunicated and kicked out of the
church for immoral conduct. Once out (I'd have never had the guts to
leave on my own) I determined that I'd never be re-baptized unless I
knew for a surety that the claims of the church were true. I began an
honest search for truth. Seeds of doubt had been planted on my
mission...I started my search there only to have my worse fears
confirmed that the church was full of half truths to put it kindly...or
full of lies to put it bluntly. I came to the full realization that the
basic claims of the church were based on deception, whitewashing of
history, distortions of truth and a pattern of fraud supported at its
highest levels. It hasn't been easy to realize that I had been so taken
advantage of by the very institution I had placed so much faith, time
and energy in. My wounds are very deep and I am in no way healed from my
experience with mormonism...I'm still struggling with the realities of
my enlightenment. As I write this my TBM wife is at the temple...I'm
sure praying for me...but for me...the truth is making me free...
|Subject:||Hang in there JohnnyCake... the more truth you learn, the freeer you'll be... Good Luck ! n/t|
|Subject:||Personal, versus Intellectual, Turning Points|
|Date:||Jan 03 17:35|
|Great post Steve! I always enjoy reading your
comments, and the responses they provoke.
While people leave for a variety of reasons, it is often a combination of both personal and intellectual issues that finally pushes many over the edge.
What surprises me, is how many of those exmos that questioned the truth and logic (or lack thereof) of the LDS church, refuse to see (or admit to) such similar inconsistencies in their new found religious beliefs.
I admire you for telling like it is!!!
What led me out of the church and religion in general, was the obvious lack of logical thought in the idea of an all-knowing, omnipotent god.
happy new year to you and mary ann!!!
Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church - www.exmormon.org