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Posted by: Apostate14 ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:29PM

Hello all,
I just felt the need to vent about something that has been bothering me the past few years and hear some other perspectives.
First, a little background is in order. I apologize that this will probably be long-winded. I am an exmormon of several years now (I am 25 now and left the church shortly after turning 18). I was raised in the church, with mostly active parents and three younger brothers. One of those brothers became fairly rebellious in his teenage years, and became “inactive” after my parents gave up on trying to force him to go to church. This bothered my parents, but it was my refusing to go on a mission and subsequent leaving of the church that seems to have sparked their total deactivation. Now, those still practicing in my family are the most committed they have ever been, to such an extent that I feel like I barely recognize them. While I have found this change in my parents a little bewildering, it has not affected me as deeply as the changes I have seen in my brothers.

The oldest of my younger brothers, to whom I was always the closest, became somewhat of a Mormon crusader after I left, loudly voicing his opinions about my brother and I not going to church, and making grave predictions for our souls. We eventually had a fight following one of these tirades against my brother’s godlessness that resulted in our not keeping in contact after I left home (I had enlisted in the Navy). This continued for the next couple of years until he went on his mission. At that point, my parents implored me to write him. I did so, still reluctantly, and found in his reply that he seemed even less the brother I had known. He wrote about his mission in an uncharacteristically positive, sickly sweet tone and took every opportunity to preach and exhort. I found it harder and harder to write him, as I received each of his letters in return. Eventually, following my deployment (in which communications were limited), I stopped writing to him completely. He never reached out.

Now he is married and going to BYU, living the life of the perfect RM. Meanwhile, my youngest brother is beginning his mission in Arkansas. I had hoped that this time would be different. Afterall, he had always been very casual about the church and was generally just a care-free, goofball of a kid. He was the only brother that I had been in regular contact with in recent years, so I took his leaving pretty hard. I promised to write often, as did he, which I initially honored.

Once again, I am starting to find it very difficult to write. Like the older brother, he is beginning to reply only in missionary jargon and a non-sensical, half biblical manner. In his most recent letter, he wrote about having to give up on a prospective convert, due to her lack of commitment. This is how it read: “We were heartbroken, we collapsed, she was so perfect and prepared, and finally to be a fruit of our labors, and we knew how happy she’d be, but no. It was very hard. We lamented a lot.” I can’t hear my brother’s voice in any of this. It’s like he was replaced with a Church computer program, writing a Book of Mormon mad lib. I don’t want to stop writing him and lose contact, but I can’t figure out how to cut through all of the brainwashing and get to talk to my real brother. Do I just ignore his bizarre letters and write to him in pure small talk? Do I try to confront him about writing to me in mormonspeak? I’m at a loss.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:34PM

I'm not sure what you should do, but I can tell you this...

I was having doubts at 18, but still went on a mission at 19.
My letters home and to friends had that same sickly holier-than-thou mormon tone. It was pretty much required. And I really was trying to make it work, and make myself believe.

Then that all fell apart. And I came home (did the full 2 years), got out of the controlled missionary environment, and left the church never to return 3 months later.

So all hope is not lost. You may find your brothers mellowing over time, you may even find them joining you in being "out." Only time will tell.

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Posted by: Apostate14 ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:42PM

Thank you for that. I hope the same happens for him, even if it is just a mellowing out. I guess I just don’t want to lose contact for these two years because I no longer know how to communicate with him. I feel like I can only do so much to try to normalize our conversations and hearing him change like this, even if it is temporary, upsets me probably more than it should.

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Posted by: liesarenotuseful ( )
Date: October 30, 2018 11:42AM

Ificouldhietokolob- you give me hope. I have a "holier than thou" son on a mission right now. My spouse would be heartbroken if he left the church, and I would be ecstatic.

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Posted by: Apostate14 ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:34PM

Whoops, I meant my parents “reactivation”, not “deactivation”. Foiled again by autocorrect

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:44PM

If you are writing via e-mail please understand that the communication you are receiving from your sibling is highly censored.

It is probably read by his companion who probably reads your email as well.

The email is on a church server. It is monitored for key words at a minimum and more than likely read by at least one other person.

Disciplinary action will be taken if your sibling does not toe the party line. What he can say via email is strictly limited.

Think of it as if they are writing from a communist country. I would say prison but they have more freedom of expression in prison.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:46PM

Sadly, we can't base our lives or happiness on what mormons think or do.

We have to let them live their lives as vapid and scripted mormon puppets if that's what they are determined to do.

We can be there for them if they see through the fog and reach out but we can't force them any more than they can force us.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:51PM

I would ignore your younger missionary brother's jargon. Respond to him with news of the outside world -- sports scores, anecdotes about family, friends, and pets, his favorite TV shows or movie series, or anything in which he would take an interest. Be kind and loving. Provide a model that life outside of Mormonism can be normal, healthy, and happy. I bet that he will treasure your letters or emails. That's really all that you can do.

As for your BYU brother, try to keep the conversation off of church. Take that attitude that, "It's not for me, but if it makes you happy, that's all that matters." That alone may provide some cognitive dissonance because it's doubtful if church is making him happy.

Try to keep the door open with them both if you possibly can. Life is long and people can and do change.

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Posted by: Jaxson ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 09:07PM

summer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I would ignore your younger missionary brother's jargon. Respond to him with news of the outside world -- sports scores, anecdotes about family, friends, and pets, his favorite TV shows or movie series, or anything in which he would take an interest. Be kind and loving. Provide a model that life outside of Mormonism can be normal, healthy, and happy. I bet that he will treasure your letters or emails. That's really all that you can do.

This.

When my son was on his mission, I too received the same type of emails you describe. Since they were mainly "group" emails, he seemed to be appealing more to others than to me. For the most part I ignored his talk of "miracles" and just wrote him weekly about sports, daily events, life in general, and encouragement. Never anything spiritual or church related.

As far as your BYU brother, I would probably back WAY off and let HIM initiate any further contact. If he does...great. If he doesn't...great too.

Lastly, I'm not buying that missionary emails are read or censored. I had heard this rumor before my son left so I told him that occasionally I would "test" the rumor out with some "choice" words at the end of my emails to him. I warned him that he probably shouldn't read what I wrote and that it wasn't directed at him or his mission. Often I would conclude my emails to him with a "P.S." to the church where I would write the filthiest, nastiest, vulgar message about the church and it's leaders that would have triggered ANY red flag...always ending with a huge FUCK YOU!! Never once was my son or I ever contacted by a church official concerning what I had written. My son told me later that he would share my writings with his companion and they both looked forward to my emails each week.

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Posted by: Anziano Young ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 06:56PM

This is exactly what happened with my oldest nephew, the first of my siblings' children to go on a mission. My brother-in-law would forward his weekly emails to the whole family, and it only took a couple months for them to devolve into stream-of-consciousness ChurchSpeak. Now that he's been back for almost a year, he's at BYU-Idaho, spending his free time watching conservative news media, and generally turning into a typical, closed-minded Morridor Mormon. It's sad, because he was intelligent and could have been so much more, but he's bought into the church's scheme entirely.

Don't lose hope for your brothers, but try not to lose any sleep over them either.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 07:19PM

We didn't have email back in the day but I wrote those kind of letters just like you described. Most missionaries get back to normal and recover their former personalities a few months after they are back. Some don't.

Don't expect any normality (if there is such a thing in Mormonism) until sometime after the mission.

In the meantime, here's a tip. On my mission we were told to "answer the question the investigator or contact *should have* asked rather than the question they actually asked."

Why not do the same in your letters. Just talk and send letters like you never even read the ridiculous Biblical Hero stuff they write. Respond to the email he *should have* written.

They won't admit it but they are bored and dying for real life tho they will protest that is not true. You can give a slice of that now and then if they aren't too far gone.

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Posted by: Apostate14 ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 08:03PM

Thank you all for your advice and support. I will try to keep those doors open and keep in contact with my brothers and just accept that things won’t be the same or normal. I’ve never tried to change their opinions about the church, and I’m not planning on doing so, but I do hope that maybe they’ll see that there’s a better life out of the church.

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Posted by: chipace ( )
Date: October 29, 2018 11:29PM

My younger brother left the church shortly after getting off his mission. This was a great example to me. He earns the most of all the siblings, and appears to be the happiest too.
I agree with what others have said about completely ignoring religious topics and focus on real life. I do this with my parents. When they would get holier than thou on me I would just ignore it and focus on common interests like their grandkids and vacations.
Being normal and happy is the best example you can give them.
Congratulations on making it out at age 18. It took me until I was 28.

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Posted by: messygoop ( )
Date: October 30, 2018 12:18AM

Just be patient with your missionary brother. Eventually, doubts will collapse his shelf. The church continues to fall apart.

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Posted by: Guy3 ( )
Date: October 30, 2018 12:23AM

Why is contact important you? I mean, really think about it. One of my greatest freedoms I had from leaving was to permanently cutting out virtually all of my brothers out of my life. And I have never felt happier. I always felt guilty in the church about my feelings about my family, I don't anymore.

If someone does not bring happiness in your life cut them out. I spent years trying it the other way, and it isn't worth it. Why does them being family give them some sort of special pass to be in your life?

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: October 30, 2018 01:18AM

They are basically always robotic repetitions of "missionary jargon" as you have correctly described it. I've had nephews and nieces on missions and every time I tried to reach out, I usually never got any personal responses. At best, my name was included in e-mails that they would send to multiple people and the content was nothing but an account of all of the "deeply spiritual" experiences they were having while "sharing the gospel" and...no need to read any of it really.

That's pretty much all you can expect, as long as the missionary in question is trying to be a good missionary. The leaders basically tell them that their focus is always supposed to be 100% on the missionary work and communications with family members should reflect that focus as well.

Hard words, but don't feel too offended by it. I wouldn't even bother writing to them during their mission, other than maybe once a year--just so that they can't later accuse you of not making any effort.

You will not get anything but robot-like letters from them. After a few more years of real life after their missions they may start to lose the holier-than-thou attitude and be able to relate to you like real human beings again. (Incidentally, a similar phenomenon can be seen in new military recruits in intense "boot camp" training programs. For a while it's almost impossible to communicate with them human to human. The effects of the intense training have to fade first. So, yes, the mind-control over missionaries is not unlike "boot camp".)

Another psychological affect that may be at play here is the "black sheep opportunity". When a sibling, such as you, does something that can be branded or viewed by parents as unlovable "black sheep" behavior, a common reaction by other siblings is to see an opportunity to more easily establish themselves as the "lovable good sheep". I've seen this many times when one sibling in a family goes inactive or does things that displease the parents, the other sibling(s) overcompensate in the opposite direction--often in almost comically exaggerated ways.

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Posted by: ApostNate ( )
Date: October 30, 2018 11:23AM

The mission was enough to drive one of my brothers and me out of the Cult of Jeebus Cripes of Ladder Day Suckers. Hopefully it'll do the same for your bros.

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