Friday, May 27, 2011

An Ex-Mormon Tells Their Exit Story

I was recently contacted by an ex-Mormon atheist who was kind enough to tell me their story of growing up in the church and why they left. This person, who wishes to remain anonymous, has given me permission to share their story.

"I was born into the church in Northern UT. My ancestors converted to the church from Europe 4-6 generations ago and headed out for Utah. I was never very stoked on church -- never felt any connection to anything they said, never felt like prayers meant anything and one of my earliest memories is of my interview with the bishop before I got baptized. At the end he shook my hand and said "I'm so proud of you for making this choice." I was kind of shocked and remember thinking "Wait, I had a choice?" I had a couple of people make that same statement to me that day and I was just kind of confused -- I had never been offered a choice.

"I was a good kid growing up, followed all the rules and went to church every Sunday and graduated from seminary. I met my now-husband, when I was in high school. He was several years older than me and not a member. He ended up joining the church because I felt like it was really important for my family, and because I had been brainwashed into wanting to get married in the temple (they made it seem so magical, like a fairytale wedding). My husband had been born in the JW church but had "escaped" (his words) when he was 14 and his parents divorced. He joined the church to make me happy and to "infiltrate" (again, his words, lol). He had a great time talking to the missionaries and bishop and seeing how everything worked and what everyone believed.

"After a couple of years we got married in the temple. By the time we got married, my husband had introduced me to several of the problematic aspects of the church (namely, Joseph Smith's polygamy). So, by this time, although I half-believed the church still to be true, and though I wanted to do the "right" thing by getting married in the temple (mostly to be a "good example" to my many younger siblings and several younger cousins), we had already had sex and we lied our ways through our temple recommend interviews. The fact that neither of our bishops or stake presidents (we were both interviewed by two of each, in our respective home wards) could tell by the "spirit of discernment" that we were lying about not having sex, not associating with any group that was against the church ("anti-mormon" literature) and having a testimony of Joseph Smith, just helped affirm to us that the church didn't have any magic powers. Also, once at the temple for our endowment sessions and sealing when none of the temple workers could tell that we weren't "pure" (after being told horror stories of couples being called out), it was obvious that we were right and that the church was good at making up scary stories to control its members but that they didn't actually have any guidance from god.

"A few months after we were married, I started really digging into the history of the church and reading about Joseph Smith's polygamous marriages (conveniently, growing up, the only person I had ever been taught as being a polygamist was Brigham Young. Joseph and Emma were portrayed as having this epic love story. Brigham and all of his wives was treated kind of like silly joke - "Oh, that Brigham and all his wives! What a jolly guy"). It was a pretty hard time for me. I was pretty angry and upset that everything I had been taught my entire life was not only a lie, but that the men who started everything were such bad guys. It was quite the shock. I was obsessed with the research for a few years and was in a pretty dark place for awhile.

"We went to church on and off (couples ward) for the one year that we lived in Logan, though the garment wearing didn't last more than a couple months. Even ignoring all the lies in the history of the church, it was obvious just how pointless and boring the whole thing was and we only went when we got pestered enough by home teachers or whoever.

"Fast forward 10 + years, we are now living in California and have a young child. We are FANTASTIC. Couldn't be happier. We are agnostic/atheist and life has never been better. We haven't been involved in the LDS church since our temple recommends expired in 2001 -- though we did get plenty of use out of them! We visited every temple we could all over the US, plus England and Canada -- around 30. The temple rituals were fascinatingly weird and we wanted to check out as many temples as we could while we still had the special membership card! My family all still live in Utah and my parents and grandparents are all TBM. They know we are inactive, but don't know yet that we are "apostates".

"All of my siblings and cousins who I was trying to be a good example for by getting married in the temple? All of them have left the church now. One of my brothers and one of my sisters are about to start the process of having their names removed from the records of the church. Guess my brilliant plan didn't work. :)

"And it's going to soon be our turn to "come out" -- whether now just to get it over with, or in a few years when our son is supposed to be getting baptized, we're going to have to finally take a stand and announce our disbelief. It's definitely not something I'm looking forward to. We've really only gotten away with it for so long because we live so far away from everyone.

"After reading your story and so many others, I'm am so GRATEFUL that I got out of the church when I did. I was only 20 and really hadn't invested anything (besides my youth and wedding, I guess). I can't imagine the disappointment and anger one would feel after giving 20-30-40+ years of service and money and time and energy to a myth started by a complete scoundrel. That would be horrifying."


Andrew Hall said...

That is a great story. Congrats to the writer getting away from the LDS, and not raising their kid in it.

Tim Young said...

Hey man, I don't know you but I stumbled on your blog tonight and I think it's fantastic. Keep it up!

Mormon411 said...

Thank you Tim. Glad you like it! Stick around and join the fun!

Amanda said...

I was never a Mormon but grew up in the Bible Belt (Louisiana) and I can completely Identify with you and your story. I still cannot admit I am agnostic/atheist to anyone but my sister who shares my beliefs because of the outrage it would cause, neither can my sister. It is difficult to visit my family and friends down there. I have since moved away, far far away.

Kari said...

No matter what you believe or don't believe, it is seriously disrespectful to participate in someones religion as if you do believe. You may consider them fairy tales, but don't diminish what may be someone else's only tether to happiness. Whether true or not, real or fake, God is meant as a comfort. You don't have to take what is offered to you, but you shouldn't ridicule others for accepting. The bottom line is that they are choosing that life. You didn't choose it, and that is fine. But they are. They use that membership card to worship their God. You made it a game.

Mormon411 said...

"it is seriously disrespectful to participate in someones religion as if you do believe."

I'm not sure what you mean by that.

Yes, I realize, very much, that god and religion bring comfort and peace to people. But I ask, is a peaceful lie still a lie? Yes. I would rather know the painful truth than live a peaceful lie.

Many people choose god because they feel they have no other choice. I did.

Christopher said...

Stumbled across your blog using the next blog button and I find it interesting, especially this story though I would not have used the temple recommend in such a way out of respect for their religion.

Mormon411 said...

Ex-Mormons have no respect for their ex-religion.

Unknown said...

The above story is mine, so I felt like I should respond.

" is seriously disrespectful to participate in someones religion as if you do believe."

"...out of respect for their religion."

I have no respect for the LDS religion (or any religion) because I know it is all a fraud. I respect that people may choose to believe whatever they want to or not, for whatever reasons they may have, but that's as far as my respect for religion goes.

I did nothing disrespectful. It does not matter that I lied to get a temple recommend and continued to attend temple sessions even though I didn't believe. My choices did not hurt or affect anyone, and as I know there is no god (LDS or otherwise), I know my choices had no spiritual consequences either.

Nicole Alexia said...

You lied in order to make a mockery of someones beliefs by entering where you were not supposed to go. If anyone entered a jewish temple and participated in ceremony pretending purity and/or respect then rejoiced at not being found out they would be shamed. Its just wrong morally, atheist, agnostic, or whatever I don't see how anyone could write about such disrespect for others beliefs like that. It leaves a bad taste in ones mouth.