I would like you to keep my anonymity, for reasons of my employment.
My experience may not be as traumatic as some of those on your page, but I have been perplexed by the tenacity of the members of the Mormon church. As a friend of mine put it, 'they are relentless'.
I have never been a church going person. As of June, 1995, my knowledge of scripture was limited to my childhood memories...
I decided I was interested in reading the bible and other religious scripture. I enlisted the help of several friends who had often invited me to go to church with them, and I did visit a number of churches.
I became interested in reading the book of Mormon. At that time, I had no idea how controlling and authoritarian those people could be. They told me I would not be able to understand the book by simply reading it, that they would like to 'visit me and explain the book to me'. Had they been vacuum salespeople, I suppose that would have been the proverbial foot in the door.
Their explanation soon became a series of 6 lessons, which I agreed to receive at a rate of one a week. They were very quick to tell me most people have all the lessons in one week.
During that time, I was avidly reading the book, and finding the text familiar. Now I realize that the 'familiarity' some feel when first reading the book stems from the fact that significant portions of the book are actually paraphrases from the New Testament.
By the fifth lesson I had visited the church on Sunday twice. At that point in time, I was being harassed by my ex-husband and feeling glad to be out of my home on Sundays, in a place where my ex-husband would not be able to find me. At that point, my intentions were only to continue to visit the church.
On the sixth lesson, the missionary boldly insisted that I 'set a date' for my baptism, and suggested the next Sunday. I told him I would have to think about it. He gave me one more week to think. Then they proceeded to call me every day of the week. I gave in, as they re-assured me that the content of the lessons was 'all that is needed for baptism'.
I was to soon find out that their theology was to be revealed in small installments, perhaps to make it digestible, and that all the priesthood holders believed they had authority over me.
I went to church for a total of six-seven weeks after my baptism. They were very quick to find all sorts of assignments and other activities to occupy my time. Everything was done in haste, as to not allow me time to think. I remember when they set me apart to give me a calling. It appeared to me they had no intention of explaining to me what my duties would be until after I accepted. I explained that my job is very demanding timewise and I was hesitant to make that type of commitment. They insisted that I take the calling, as they needed to announce in the meeting half an hour later. After the sacrament meeting, somebody simply told me to be at a certain place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. I remember her shocked expression when I said that I would not be able to make it due to my work schedule. Two or three weeks went by and I decided not to act on my calling until they gave me the description of my duties in writing, they did not appreciate that. I had no intentions of accepting assignments and duties they 'made up' as they went along.
During this period, I started becoming acquainted with some of their queer beliefs, which hardly makes the religion Christian.
The last straw was drawn when they expected me to offer my testimony. The missionaries had taught me that a person should create their own prayers, as opposed to repeating prayers as the catholics do, 'After all, wouldn't God could become bored after hearing the same set of words all the time?. I find it odd, however, that hearing 'this is the one true church', 'Joseph Smith is a prophet of God', or ' the book of Mormon is true' repeated by millions of member does not bore God. I believe these phrases are senseless, if one believes they are true, let him be a Mormon. If one does not believe they are true, let him not be a Mormon. Simple as that. That Sunday, however, after a few members had recited their chorus line, it appeared everybody's eyes were on me. I did not get up. Immediately following the closing prayer, the missionary came to shake my hand and said, very loudly: 'we need our friend here needs to give her testimony'. I decided not to come back.
I was absent from church on Sunday for two weeks, a few members called me saying they were 'concerned'. That is actually a code word. They were simply coercing me into coming to church. I was naive enough to think they were worried about my health and reassured them I was in good health. On the third Sunday, I was out of town. They called and left messages on my answering machine. I came back home very late and did not return any calls. The next day, three officials from the church came to my place of work, but visitors must state the reason for their visit and personal visitors are not allowed at my work place. By that evening, they had called one of my bosses because 'they were concerned'. I was furious, I had never known such maniacs.
I called the bishop and told him I was not returning to church, but other members continue to call me or come to my home.
I will now try to outline some of their arguments and my attitude towards them:
Argument 1: Aren't you going to honour the covenant made with God to keep the Sabbath?
Well, I was not aware I made this covenant, so it is not valid. Those maniacs wanted to bring the sacrament to my house. I refused.
Argument 2: You have to accept all the precepts of our theology, there are many things no one understands. If you still do not understand, pray about it.
I don't have a problem with anyone's theology. I believe people get used to the doctrine they are taught, and convince themselves they believe it(--possibly by praying). It just happens that I do not believe God is an alien living in Kolob, that people may become gods, that I owe obedience to any church authority, finally, not being a racist, I do not believe blacks or Amerindians became dark through punishment by God.
Argument 3: This is the only true church.
This is hardly Mormonism's claim to fame. So say catholics, seventh-day adventists, moonies, etc...
Argument 4: The church does a lot of good to many people.
So does UNICEF, the Red Cross and countless other religious charities.
Argument 5: We love you and we want you.
So do my kittens.
I will soon ask them to drop my name from their list
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