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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 07:12PM

I'm a teenager exmo but am Teacher's Quorum President. My parents only just found out I was an atheist on the 25th, 3 days ago. They seem to be handling the news well compared to what all the horror stories say. No members of the ward know yet. I'm the Mormon poster boy in their eyes.

I just feel overwhelmed. I'm in my Junior year of high school and am so busy with school that I don't want to go through any dramatic life changes at this moment. I'm constantly buried in assignments and am already taking so many AP classes and college classes. I'm scared of what might come next because I don't know if I can handle it all.

I'd appreciate any advice or comforting words :)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2023 01:51AM by Maude.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 07:24PM

I hope things will ease up for you when you get promoted, either by your good works as recognized by a benevolent ghawd, or by the turn of the calendar, when in January, when everybody gets promoted...

I didn't have to worry about dating in high school due to my size and odor, but I thought that a good way around the no-going-steady-and-making-out-all-the-time rule was for two friends and me to cycle through our respective girlfriends so that one date night, I'd pick her up, the next date night, friend 1 would pick her up and then the third date night, friend 2 would pick her up!

I had a lot of free time to think about these things...

Do you have early morning seminary?

I loved early morning seminary!  I'd sit by a cute girl and pretend we were together, but there were a lot of times the girl would wake up before the class was over, recognize me, and change seats.

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 07:40PM

Are you suggesting that you and 3 friends shared a single girlfriend? Yeah sorry I'm not willing to do that lol

I do my seminary online through a Zoom meeting. I don't do any of the work lol

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Posted by: anonynon ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 10:49PM

I think he means a carpool/date uber of sorts, where they pick up each other's dates to hide the appearance of exclusive dating. To parents, it would appear that each person is going out with a different date on a three week rotation. The first week, everyone picks up their date. The second and third weeks, everyone picks up someone else's date and then delivers them to their intended date where their (the driver) intended date would also be waiting after being picked up by someone who is not you.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 08:43PM

For what it's worth, here's my take. First of all, elderolddog is our board joker most of the time, so beware of anything crazy he suggests. :-)

Be careful about sharing too much here. This is a public place and we have Mormon types and others who could possibly cause trouble if they should figure out who you are.

I'm very impressed you are focused on school and doing so well. Please continue to study hard and get yourself in the position to have a decent career. Right now, you are in the situation where you need to plan and that might involve support from your parents. They might insist on a LDS college. They might not be willing to help if they start getting out of shape about your disbelief. Remember they love you and genuinely want the best for you. You might luck out with scholarships or maybe you can save some money going to community college at first. Independence is your goal.

There is no reason to rush about telling everyone your thoughts about the church and religions. Be sensitive to their feelings. Most people are not going to be happy with a verbal atheist around. You might become a "project" to fix. Some parents start making their kid go to the bishop or read more nonsense, trying to restore their belief. That's what your mom appears to be doing with the Alma experiment thing. You can go through the motions and take or leave whatever you want.

I suppose the tricky part will come when it is time for mission decisions. If you are a year into college, you might need to make some decisions about staying in school instead of going. I suspect your family will pressure you. Things are easier once you are legal age and you can live at school or away from home. You can sort of fade away from church without being in-your-face about it.

Some families are very accepting of family members who don't believe and there isn't much problem. Others freak out and it becomes ugly. Remember your parents have been taught that they are failures if their child "falls away." Thank your mom for allowing you to think for yourself and tell her what a great job she did raising you.

I also had secret boyfriends through high school that my parents wouldn't allow. I admit I snuck around a bit. Whatever you do, be careful. The quickest road to a crap life is getting someone pregnant or developing a drug or drinking problem. I can tell you are very smart and have a very bright future if you plan carefully. Some people you know will want you to fail if you don't jump through their faith hoops. It justifies their view that you need the church to be happy.

Live smart!

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 09:49PM

Thank you, I'll take this all into consideration, especially the bit about elderolddog

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 12:47AM

summer's the board sage. Her advice is worth its weight in gold.

As for career choices, most undergraduates change majors more often than they brush their teeth. So get into college, ideally with parental support, and explore.

ETA: dagny's pretty good too. ;D

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/29/2023 12:48AM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: Susan I/S ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 08:59PM

It sounds like you are on the right track. Stay goal oriented and don't get bogged down in the day to day. Make a short little list of goals for one year, five years, ten years. Concentrate on school, it is your big ticket to being able to make your own decisions. Now is the time to make decisions about what you want to go to school for so you can start looking at different schools. Time to start applying for scholarships. Have you talked to the councilor about that at school yet? They can be a great resource. Having firm plans may help you out with the "mission" crap too.

I know it is hard. I really do. But you are going to have years and years for girls and to party. Don't give anyone ammunition. If you are focused and pushing towards your goals your parents will see that. There is this strange belief with mormons that if you leave their church you are going to go wild and become a degenerate. Every ExMo hears it no matter their age. Prove that isn't true. It will go a long way to your parents peace of mind. The more you make them worry, the more they are going to do what they know, mormonism.

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 09:51PM

> The more you make them worry, the more they are going to do what they know, mormonism.

This is true. Very, very true. Thanks for all this.

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Posted by: Rubicon ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 09:12PM

It sounds like you know what you want. Focus on your classes because doing well in school will be your ticket to getting out on your own. As long as you are under your parent’s roof put on a good poker face. Arguing about religion or anything they don’t agree with only causes tension and doesn’t accomplish anything.

Doing some things behind your parent’s back is part of being a teenager. Be a good student and a hard worker. Your parents will respect that. Also be smart. Don’t be an irresponsible rebel. You Don’t want to smash up a car driving drunk or ...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2023 01:38AM by Maude.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 11:31PM

You are doing the right thing at the present by focusing on school. Eventually that will be your ticket to independence. I would not push your beliefs too hard on your parents. The fewer worries they have about you for now, the better. If you haven't already, I would start discussing potential colleges with your parents, and nail down exactly what their plans are in terms of helping you financially with your future schooling. Have you thought about what you might want to study?

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 28, 2023 11:58PM

I want to do something relating to either computer science or biology. I've taken AP Biology classes and AP Computer Science classes and they're both things I really enjoy, but I honestly have no idea if I would enjoy pursuing a career in either.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 12:03AM

Combine them!

Find a cure for Gladys Lot!

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 12:10AM

You could major in one of those fields and minor in the other. You'd be surprised how those two fields overlap.

I was a microbiology major. I had no idea what microbiology was about until I was in college and happened to take a class in it to fill a requirement. So, you never know what you will discover along the way. Most of what happens to you in life depends on what opportunity happens to open at the time you need to make a decision.

Enjoy the journey. There is so much to learn with so many side topics you will discover.

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 01:42AM

From my own experience, I can tell you there are some challenges ahead for you.

If you're in highschool I am assuming you're currently 15. Sometime soon you'll be called in for your interview to be a priest. Maybe as soon as December?

You'll now have to face the dreaded worthiness interview. You'll most likely be asked if you believe in god and in a living prophet.

There are two paths; say no and be put through the ringer by the bishop or fall back on the time honored tradition of many teenage males over the last half century and tell the bishop what he wants to hear.

The old saying of pick your battles applies here. But ultimately you'll have to make your own choice.

Many teens go along to get along until they leave home.

As a teacher, your responsibility on sunday consists of prepping the bread and water and cleaning up later.

As a priest you'll be expected to bless the sacrament. I'd think now if you'll be ok doing that.


Be aware anything you say to the bishop will be told to anyone and everyone.

As always you're welcome here, and we wish you the best

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2023 01:39AM by Maude.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 05:27AM

>> Always tell the bishop you're chaste.

Heartless is right, Chez. Anything you tell the bishop will likely get all around the ward. So treat your personal information with care.

If the bishop asks anything that delves into the particulars with the law of chastity, think about how you might handle it. A typical response might be, "I don't have a problem with that." But in any event, you don't need to answer anything that violates your personal boundaries. "I keep the law of chastity" should be plenty good enough for the bishop. If it's not, you do not need to respond any further.

Also start to think about how you will handle the mission question when it comes up, both with your bishop and with your parents.

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 09:30AM

Is it really true that once the bishop knows the entire ward will? That doesn't seem to line up with everything I've been told about the bishop.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 09:36AM

It depends on the bishop, but proceed with the notion that nothing you say to the bishop is confidential. How it often goes is that the bishop tells his wife, who tells her best friend, who tells the neighbor, etc. Or the bishop brings it up in ward council and it starts to spread that way.

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 09:40AM

Okay thanks, I'll keep this in mind. I do worry though if my parents would tell the bishop or any other ward members about me.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 10:03AM

Yes, it's a possibility that your parents might go to the bishop. It might be in your best interest to fly under the radar as much as possible. Mormon parents have been known to clamp down hard if their children stray off the narrow path that has been set for them. I'm not saying that your parents will necessarily do that, but it could happen. Pick your battles.

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Posted by: bradley ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 09:45AM

Bishops don't get any real training and Mormons don't understand personal boundaries, so the odds are high that he will at least tell his wife. You can imagine what happens next.

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Posted by: anonynon ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 11:17PM

Chez Wrote:
> Is it really true that once the bishop knows the
> entire ward will? That doesn't seem to line up
> with everything I've been told about the bishop.

There's no way to know for sure. Keep in mind, these men are lay clergy with no training in ... anything most clerics handle. Obviously someone isn't automatically good, genuine and honest via clerical training. And someone isn't automatically bad, devoid of integrity and dishonest in the absence of training. But you never know what someone without training will do, or how they will keep confidences. He may divulge things to his wife, who divulges them to others and it gets around. He may tell other people thinking that he's doing it for a "good" purpose, like having people "fellowship" you, thinking it's saving your soul for eternity.

Keep in mind that we don't owe everyone absolute honesty when it comes to things that are none of their business. In those cases, truth is not always the helpful, necessary approach when it comes to a religion you don't believe in and aren't spiritually beholden to. Tell the bishop what he wants to hear, regardless if it's true or not (ie ... yes you have faith, sometimes you question the nature of god, but doesn't everyone? etc.)

Right now, you need to prioritize your ability to get through school with good grades and hopefully keep your relationships with your friends. The church doesn't serve you, so approach it with a survival mindset.

Since you are taking AP courses and you mentioned college courses, it sounds like you're in a really good place to get scholarships. THIS is your priority. There are scholarships for everything (even scholarships for redheads, just for being a redhead), you just have to ferret them out. This is your co-priority with school. It's your only way out, your only way to have some independence in your choices for what comes next after graduation. For everything else religion-related, go through the motions and sort of disassociate (not as in the disorder, but just let the words of your church meetings and discussions with your parents wash over you and commit to not internalizing anything.

Last two things: I saw above that you were already thinking about what you want to study. People change majors all the time. I did. I even rejected some amazing scholarships from schools that didn't have the niche major I planned, and you know what? I graduated with a major that couldn't have been further from what I thought I wanted to do. Your ticket out is school and school funding. Go where you get the most funds or is the least expensive for you, and everything else can be worked out later. The degree is more important than the major, and there's also grad school. For instance, I know several people who majored in drama with plans to go to law school (and did). Rock your exams (the ap ones are a killer), get great grades, find great references, build up well-roundness, and start looking at schools now.

I don't know your financial circumstances, but see if you can find a summer program at a university. I know johns hopkins has one (a biosciences niece did that between her sophmore/junior year and junion/senior year. UNC also has a program, I'm sure the programs are everywhere. A summer away will give you some extra credits and FREEDOM from your family, with the ability to just explore a day-to-day non-mormon teen life.

Finally, and this seems crucial when the mission talks come up: Find a way to phrase this: that at the moment, your testimony in god and the church is weak, the required answers to get a calling and even a temple recommend wouldn't be honest and it would be without integrity, and you respect their church too much for that. After a year or so of college, you hope you'll be more clear about your faith and if so, then you'd be able to answer the questions with integrity and serve the lawwwd with integrity as a missionary, as you feel strongly that going under false pretenses would hurt the mission, the missionaries around you, and also hurt your soul because it would feel dishonest to try to bring people to something you don't yet fully accept. So, so what if you're a 22 year old first time missionary? (not that you'll be this, but really I can't see how, if hard pressed, they can justify why being a missionary at 18 matters so much more than at 22.

Good luck, find adults you trust who can help you. If you're not in the morridor, try meeting with the school's college counselor to start planning a way out. I wish you the best. I think it's going to be ok. You sound strong and strong-minded. You'll get through.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2023 01:45AM by Maude.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 11:54PM

Yes, references are important for school and jobs. Start by making an effort to talk to your AP teachers so they know you. Thank them and ask them questions that express interest (which you have). They can probably provide letters of recommendation to apply to college. In college, do the same with professors. You might need references for grad school from people who know you. You will need references for jobs and the jobs after jobs. You will need references from people you worked for who can vouch for your work ethic.

I wish someone had told me to fraternize more with my professors and bosses. It would have made getting references a lot easier. I was too afraid to approach them much.

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Posted by: moehoward ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 05:33AM

You're getting pretty good advice on the forum. I would add, your parents are on your side, maybe a bit strict but they want your best interests. The best thing you're doing is thinking.

Don't be a young kid who outwardly rebels against his parents, waste of time. You can do the next two years easily before you go to college.

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Posted by: want2bx ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 11:54AM

As I was reading your story, something stood out to me. You mentioned that your parents were handling the news of you being an atheist well. I think that's great, but keep in mind that it might not always be that way.

I think it's common for TBM parents or spouses to seem like they're taking news like that well initially. In my experience, It's often because they don't really believe it. It's easier to believe that you're going through a phase, especially if they still see you doing all the Mormon things. My TBM husband seemed really supportive when I initially told him that I didn't believe in the church. It wasn't till months later when I told him that I was no longer going to church that our relationship became very strained for a very long time.

I don't have any really great advice in this regard, just to warn you that what might feel like acceptance of your beliefs really might not be. Just be careful and tread lightly.

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Posted by: Chez ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 12:44PM

That is a fair point. Thank you for the warning.

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Posted by: Twinker ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 08:57PM

Avoid speaking in Sac meeting.
Avoid meeting with the bishop.
Avoid discussing your beliefs with TBMs.
If you do discuss with your parents, do so as if you are questioning, not concluding.
Avoid, as much as you are able, taking part in any Church activities.
Fly under the radar.

Share, report, ask, here on RFM. These are your people.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 29, 2023 09:45PM

BTW, if your parents check your browsing history (and they will try if they are worried about you) and figure out you been (gasp) chatting with "antis" that would be bad. I hope you are careful online. Remember anything online NEVER goes away.

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