Date: March 14, 2023 06:40PM
Mormonism in my family starts about in the 1930's and '40s. Missionaries came to Northern Florida and converted my GGGP's. These folks were a combination of Baptists, racists, poor farmers who kept being lured into the city. My GP was a mechanic on my Dad's side. My GP on my mom's side was a cop and died at 35 of a heart attack. My mom raised her siblings until she married my dad. My dad was an only child. I'm the oldest of 4 siblings.
I was in the 10th grade when I realized what being a Mormon was going to mean for me. I was different, and not in a good way. I rarely told anyone I was a Mormon. My male friends were a combination of Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, and Atheist. We got along and religion came up only once in a while. Each of us knew that we weren't given a choice what denomination we were. As I got older the kids at church were as cruel as a step-child. Hey, their parents forced them into church functions so how do you think that was going to go? When I graduated from high school, I moved with my family to Utah. I went because I wanted to snow ski. Utah presented a new set of Mormon occupational hazards. After a week or two of attending church in Utah, I formally complained to my parents that we were the only Mormons in Utah. I mean, when I attended church services, people carried BOM's around; there was sacrament each Sunday and everyone's name was brother or sister. But, during the week, these same people changed into regular people, as if they hadn't even been to church on Sunday. Since I became a teen-ager, I lived with one foot in the church and one foot out.
I made several friends during that first year in Utah. My best friend turned out to be from California. He wasn't a Mormon and we both rode skateboards everywhere. We'd sneak beers, smoked some herbs, and got into enough trouble to scare us. The fact that I had a Catholic friend didn't go well for having good things said about either of us. After all, he was from a family of working poor, from California, who wouldn't convert to LDS teachings. It was always odd to me how much the Lord and his 'people' cared more for me than for my friend. I just told priesthood leaders I was doing missionary work. My parents came to me one day and offered to pay for me to go on a mission. I didn't want to go. I was already fellowshipping my buddy. Time was running out. They wanted an answer soon. I went. I went because I was told that God had a plan for me. I even got a promise from the Patriarch that I was special. Saved in reserve for the last days. Time was running out.
Two years slowly ticked by. I found out that my only job was to babysit 19 year old boys like myself. Each interview with a District Leader or the Mission President was a return and report interrogation. Seed were being planted that would one day would be of use to me. Two years ended, and I decided to go to school. Ricks College, Idaho. I made it one semester. I felt stifled, held down, and it made my mission experience seem enjoyable. I spent more time doing church assignments than studying for class.
I met a convert girl and got married later that same year. Looking back, I wish someone would have slapped me around for marrying so quickly. It's been over 40 years and we are still together. We have children who are in and out of TSCC. It makes for more interesting family reunions.
A few years back, say about 24, I experienced a deeply spiritual experience. It had nothing to do with anything church-related. It lasted about a week. I was emotional at times. I was calm and had a sense of peace. Several weeks later, I began searching for books and any information related to Mormonism. I wanted to find out if my path in life was valid. I poured through pages of both Mormon and non-Mormon sources. The Tanner's, Quinn, Ogden Kraut, Jim Harmston, History of the Latter-day Saints, BOM, D&C, A Leaf In Review, ETB's books, McConkie, Gerald Lund, Tom Green, Roy Potter, Kerry Boren, Bishop Koyle, The Dream Mine, SWK, and many others. Remember that seed I spoke of? The seed gave me the thought that what I was told was revelation, was just guessing. I have never had a spiritual experience by way of TSCC. I haven't had a priesthood leader tell me something that would have come true in time.
When I realized that generational greed of money, power, and control was what defines Mormonism. Making people feel guilt, shame, and remorse for doing human things has made generations of us diverted away from looking at the church from a critical viewpoint. In fact, it reminds me of The Wizard of Oz scene when the curtain is pulled back. And we find out that we are looking for is what we already have in us.
In time, I discovered that whatever kernel of truth TSCC has left in it, is not worth a lifetime of blind obedience. The church is selling a commodity tha it will never make good on. So, I went to them to negotiate a new deal with them. It was to be the last tithing settlement I would ever have to experience. My wife and kids and I went to the Bishop's office. I read to him from the D&C about how tithing should be applied according to scripture. He could not contain himself and began berating me for questioning modern revelation. I also pointed out to him that as a Bishop in Zion he was required to be a full-time bishop who was continually to care for the church members. And, deacons were to be men who had families and could assist the bishop in his duties.
I pointed out that tithing was a precursor to living the United Order. And I asked him, "How many Mormon leaders, how many Mormon members, especially those of means and who have inherited lands, cattle, boats, houses on the hills, food storage, money in the bank, vacation homes, and beautiful clothes, how many would turn over their property to the church in order to make the saints equal in all things?". He responded that our interview was over.
That afternoon, I had my first spiritual experience in Mormonism. Unless Mormons, who truly believe that god is not a liar, and that we are all saved on the same principles, and remove their leaders who have abandoned the teachings, the church leaders will destroy it. While I no longer believe in Mormonism and to a large extent Christianity, I still hope that people will start to question religion and predatory leaders and members. My goal in life is to remove any hope or faith in Mormonism from my family.