(orig­i­nal post found at www​.most​ly​mor​mon​.com)

This is that angry let­ter you write and then tear up, only I’m not going to.

Maybe instead I should go to the garage and beat on a punch­ing bag or go shoot some guns, but I don’t own a punch­ing bag and my new­ly devel­oped lib­er­al­ism has me a lit­tle uncer­tain about where guns fit into my life any­more.

I’m still angry.

I guess I don’t know what I expect­ed. I think I’m sur­prised that an angry ex-mor­mon has been bleed­ing through my per­son­al­i­ty late­ly. It has­n’t even been a year since leav­ing the church and no, I can’t leave it alone. I think about it every day, despite my best efforts. They don’t make it easy to ignore.

Ear­ly this year, my boss pulled me into his office to ask me what was wrong. My per­son­al life had man­i­fest itself in my pro­fes­sion­al life and he noticed. I was vis­i­bly upset. To his cred­it, he gen­uine­ly want­ed to know if he could help. He was con­cerned about my well­be­ing. He’s a good per­son, a good Mor­mon.

He was under­stand­ing and sup­port­ive when I divulged that my wife and I were leav­ing the church and explained some of the rea­sons why. But the one part of that con­ver­sa­tion that sticks with me more than any­thing else is when he fin­ished by say­ing ‘just don’t become one of those angry ex-mor­mon types’. Out of polite­ness, I chuck­led and told him that I intend­ed to slip silent­ly into a qui­et cor­ner and behave myself.

Ask­ing those who leave the church out of moral objec­tions to it core teach­ings and beliefs to not be an angry ‘ex-mor­mon’ is kind of like ask­ing a can­cer patient to not be angry about their diag­no­sis. It shows the com­plete lack of under­stand­ing ‘faith­ful’ mem­bers of the church have for the ‘apos­tates’.

The church was my world. It dic­tat­ed every piv­otal deci­sion I ever made. It shaped my opin­ions, my ideas, my entire view of real­i­ty. It was­n’t just tak­en from me, it betrayed me. It wound­ed me. It lied to me. And when I ques­tioned it, it blamed me and turned every­one I loved against me! Then it told me to not be angry.

Big tent Mor­monism does­n’t exist. The church has effec­tive­ly put a label on every­one and placed them into com­part­ments and there are only cer­tain com­part­ments that are wel­come in the main­stream. I wait for a sig­nal from Salt Lake that would help loved ones bet­ter under­stand why I would make such a dras­tic change in my life, but all I seem to hear are mes­sages of sep­a­ra­tion and seg­re­ga­tion. Analo­gies of boats are are tossed around like pass along cards, re-enforc­ing an ‘Us vs. Them’ men­tal­i­ty. Man can­not serve God and Mam­mon, and they nev­er let you for­get which side they rep­re­sent, and by exten­sion, which side I rep­re­sent.

And while boat analo­gies have no effect on me, I know what they do to active mem­bers’ per­cep­tion of me, and it makes me angry. I am the con­stant recip­i­ent of slan­der­ous com­ments from a group of men who claim to have a per­son­al and ‘spe­cial’ rela­tion­ship with Jesus Christ. They tell their con­gre­ga­tion that I am a liar, I am deceived, I lack courage, I have tak­en the easy road, I have jumped off of ship Zion, I ignore the spir­it, and I was nev­er ful­ly com­mit­ted or con­vert­ed in the first place.

Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances any­one hear­ing these types of accu­sa­tions cast in the direc­tion of any doubter would be able to quick­ly dis­miss them as the unfair gen­er­al­iza­tions they are. But we are not talk­ing about nor­mal cir­cum­stances.

First, let’s look at the source.

The lead­er­ship of the church has care­ful­ly and clev­er­ly placed them­selves in a posi­tion where their author­i­ty can­not be ques­tioned. You are asked to pledge them your alle­giance as a pre-req­ui­site to receive sav­ing ordi­nances. They hold your eter­nal fam­i­ly hostage by with­hold­ing tem­ple rec­om­mends to any­one unable to pro­fess belief in their divine call­ing as God’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives. No few­er than four times per year, mem­bers are asked to raise their hand to the square in a sus­tain­ing vote of approval of their appoint­ment. Those who oppose their author­i­ty are excom­mu­ni­cat­ed. Those who vow absolute ded­i­ca­tion and obe­di­ence to them are pro­mot­ed. Chil­dren sing their prais­es, becom­ing con­vinced through their most for­ma­tive years that if they fol­low the prophet, fol­low the prophet, fol­low the prophet, he won’t lead them astray. Mem­bers hang on their every word, turn­ing every clever phrase or anec­dote into a vinyl wall dec­o­ra­tion or t‑shirt, avail­able for pur­chase at the Lord’s book­store. Regard­less of their true inten­tions, the church cul­ti­vates a thriv­ing cul­ture of leader wor­ship exists and thrives.

Sec­ond, let’s look at the tar­get.

The mob sit­ting in the pews every Sun­day embrac­ing these ‘pre­cious truths’ is the same mob claim­ing that Joseph Smith’s mar­riages to 14-year-old girls and oth­er men’s wives actu­al­ly strength­en their col­lec­tive tes­ti­mo­ny. Then again, should I real­ly expect empa­thy, rea­son, or log­ic from a group who believes that deny­ing bap­tism to the chil­dren of homo­sex­u­als some­how is a divine­ly-inspired pro­tec­tive mea­sure? Should I real­ly expect this same group to defend me against attacks from LDS apos­tles who call me a cow­ard for doubt­ing the Book of Mor­mon’s his­toric­i­ty? After all, this is the same group of peo­ple who excit­ed­ly fill my Face­book feed with shouts of joy every six months, pro­claim­ing con­fer­ence week­end to be the best week­end of the year! That’s right. Their best week­end is spent learn­ing new words like pon­der­ize and spread­ing inter­net memes about doubt­ing doubts. I don’t stand a chance against their pre-deter­mined opin­ions of me, opin­ions pre-deter­mined by their infal­li­ble lead­ers.

I often ask myself what it would take for the most ardent sup­port­ers of the LDS faith to break form and ques­tion their con­vic­tions. What would it take for them to hear the hurt­ful and xeno­pho­bic teach­ings of their lead­ers the same way I hear them? What would it take for them to knock Joseph Smith down a few rungs, to ques­tion the authen­tic­i­ty of his tall-tale?

If you ask one of these ‘defend­ers of the truth’, they would tell you ‘NOTHING, noth­ing could or ever will shake my tes­ti­mo­ny.’

And while state­ments like this are infu­ri­at­ing­ly close mind­ed and short sight­ed, strange­ly enough, they actu­al­ly low­er my pulse and stop me from see­ing red.

God grant me the seren­i­ty to accept the things I can­not change, the courage the change the things I can, and the wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence’ ‑Seren­i­ty Prayer

When I hear some­one say noth­ing can or will change their mind about any par­tic­u­lar top­ic, I quick­ly real­ize I am deal­ing with an irra­tional per­son and there is NOTHING I can do to change that. They will con­tin­ue to fol­low their lead­ers regard­less of the per­ceived irra­tional­ism of the instruc­tion, and there is noth­ing I can do to change that. They will con­tin­ue to see me as the apos­tate they have been told that I am, and there is noth­ing I can do to change that. They will con­tin­ue to defend church pol­i­cy and church apolo­get­ics in the face of social out­cry and empir­i­cal evi­dence, and there is noth­ing I can do to change that.

And despite the hurt and loss that I feel regard­ing the mean­ing­ful (but dam­aged) rela­tion­ships in my life, I can rest easy know­ing the dif­fer­ence between the opin­ions peo­ple have of me, which I can­not change, and the opin­ions that I have of myself and my deci­sion to sus­pend belief.

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Wes TrexlerFreethinker est 2007John Krok Recent comment authors
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Freethinker est 2007
Freethinker est 2007

I for­mal­ly resigned my mem­ber­ship in 2007. I absolute­ly relate with every sen­ti­ment and strug­gle. Isn’t it inter­est­ing that so many leave the church, which has no ‘out clause’, feel­ing alone in their deci­sion and face the sham­ing, patro­n­i­sa­tion and seg­re­ga­tion that comes from mem­bers who instant­ly switch off from you. But alas, near­ly each one of us that walks this road has a very sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence. 8 years lat­er I am still angry. It def­i­nite­ly comes and goes, but unless I want to com­plete­ly cut off every fam­i­ly mem­ber and friend still prac­tic­ing, there is no escap­ing the church real­ly. I used to talk to fam­i­ly week­ly at least while in the church. Now we talk every 3 months if that. Every chat I have renewed hope going in that things will be dif­fer­ent, but every chat I am let down when the reli­gious judg­ment starts in. They can’t even… Read more »

Wes Trexler

I’m so glad you seem to have found a bet­ter place now, Free­thinker. We each have such a unique jour­ney in and out of mor­monism. I wish you all the best!

If you feel so inclined, feel free to add your sto­ry as its own post on this site. I would love to have it stand on its own.

John Krok

Hi Scott, I hear you loud and clear. Its a ter­ri­ble jour­ney, more so if you don’t have lov­ing peo­ple about you. I recent­ly sent a let­ter to my Bish­op & Stake Pres­i­dent (I’ve post­ed it on this site if you want to read). Im amazed by how uni­ver­sal yours and mine and oth­ers expe­ri­ences are, who are “tran­si­tion­ing” out of the church. The anger comes and goes for me and I just wish mem­bers of my extend­ed fam­i­ly and close friends would take their LDS “blink­ers” off and see the real world and in par­tic­u­lar the his­tor­i­cal foun­da­tion of the church. Im hop­ing one day soon the anger for us both dis­ap­pears!