Brooklyn grew up in the church and considered her testimony “unbreakable”. She served her country in the armed forces and saw among the LDS while she was deployed that they did not live by LDS standards but she needed to rely on them for priesthood services (blessings and sacrament). Later she worked as a police officer and thus was not always at church, and despite having told her leaders about her other responsibilities, they always treated her as “less active”. Considering starting a family, she did research on the church’s position on women working outside the home and found the “overwhelming expectation was to stay home and not work outside the home.” During this research, she came upon the Gospel Topic Essays too, and they troubled her. Finally allowing herself to look beyond the church-approved sources, she came to the conclusion that the truth claims of the church are not true. She’s now raising her family outside of the influence of the church.
I grew up very active. I called the young women’s president when I was 11 to ask if I could start working on my young womanhood medallion early. I did all the things and checked all the boxes, and honestly felt like my testimony was unbreakable. I even gave a Book of Mormon to my head drill sergeant at Army Basic training. I was a Mormon.
My now ex-husband was physically and emotionally abusive and used the words of the temple sealing, and the advice of our sealer, (that I strive to follow my husband’s council) to abuse me, justify his abuse, and manipulate me into staying with him.
I deployed to Afghanistan where the guys I deployed with didn’t treat me well and didn’t comply with the LDS lifestyle standards I expected, yet they were my only source for the priesthood. I was very frustrated because I felt I was living the standards I’d promised, but if I wanted the sacrament or a blessing, I would have to ask one of the men who otherwise treated me horribly to do it for me. Sometimes they would, sometimes they wouldn’t, but I wasn’t allowed to do it for myself.
While I was deployed, I filed for an annulment of my first marriage, and it was granted shortly after returning home. My ex was also convicted of domestic violence assault during this time against me. I went to the bishop and asked to start the process of having the sealing canceled. He more or less treated me as though I was just too young to have married, and we just “didn’t get along”. I had to retell my story several times because, after each time, the bishop didn’t “remember” any of the incidents of physical violence. The sealing cancellation was eventually granted, but only after requesting my ex-husband’s permission.
Bishops as I moved about seemed to barely remember my name. I started working as a police officer, which meant I worked whatever day of the week I was needed. I went to every activity I was off duty for, and often attended sacrament meetings on duty. Yet, I frequently repeated the same conversation that started with “I haven’t seen you in a while, thanks for coming to church today”. After which I would remind them I worked in public service, and they would reply with some sort of “oh that’s right, I forgot”. Maybe they would have treated a man the same way, but it always felt like, as a woman, having a job was bad, but having a “manly” job was almost unforgivable.
My [new] husband and I started considering starting a family, and I knew that I wanted to have a career. I started researching old conference talks, ensign articles, etc to see what the overall consensus was on women working outside the home, and it was obvious to me that while there was discussion of each woman can choose what’s best for herself, the overwhelming expectation was to stay home and not work outside the home. I could only find a few quotes that even suggested it might be okay to work and be a mom. This was so hard for me because I knew that I wanted a career and aspirations outside the home, yet that didn’t seem to be the “right” way to be an LDS mom.
As I did my research, I stumbled upon the Gospel Topic Essays and this was when I first learned the extent of Joseph Smith’s polygamy. I brought this up to my mom, and she accused me of trying to get her to read anti-Mormon literature. She didn’t believe that the Gospel Topics Essay I showed her was on the church website were real and questioned how the authors of the essay could know Joseph Smith had more than one wife. I read all the apologist websites and studied scripture and the church website, but the explanations provided were not enough for me.
It all came to a crossroads when I volunteered to teach a CTR 4 class, and while reading the lesson beforehand I realized I didn’t agree with it. I decided if I can’t agree with a CTR 4 lesson, then this wasn’t what I wanted to raise my future family in.
When I left, I still more or less “believed”, I just simply didn’t want what was taught. After I left, I gave myself permission to view materials not solely on the church website and have since come to the conclusion that I don’t believe the truth claims of the LDS church. My husband left at the same time as me about 3 years ago, and we’re now trying to survive our 2-year-olds reign of terror.Brooklyn
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