Latayne converted to Mormonism and was swept up in the fullness of the Gospel. She attended BYU and loved it. She came to a realization though that she trusted the Bible first and foremost, and began to study the church closer. As she studied she was startled by the “contrast between what I’d been taught in my BYU classes and what Mormon history really was like.” She, as a writer, began chronicling her journey deconstructing her faith in the Mormon church and later published it at “The Mormon Mirage.” Before publishing it, she sought to resign from the church, but discovered that she’d already been excommunicated. She’d been reported by a mole in an ex-Mormon group where she was researching her deconstruction and book! She is happy now out of the church even though she feels she still walks with a “spiritual limp” but it’s worth it because she knows that “truth is more important” than anything!
I was a convert to the church. I wanted to please God, and I believed that I could do that in Mormonism. No ulterior motives, no grand plan, just simplicity and the literal faith of a child. I had a great respect for Scripture and a love for my Creator, and Mormonism gave me the chance to expand and act on that love while learning more about God and His mysteries than I’d ever dreamed. I was a mormon.
The next fall I went away to BYU, where I was gloriously happy. I studied, believed and lived Mormonism as it wanted to be understood. I honored the prophet and my leaders as personal heroes. I worked hard, putting myself through school without any outside help other than writing scholarships and earned good grades and loved, just loved, being a Mormon. I participated in every ward function and continued to write and be published in BYU’s publications and to read voraciously.
I looked around me at the beauty and diversity of nature, and concluded that such order and creativity indicated the existence of a Creator. Whoever made all that was both complicated and good. If He created all of nature, and I was part of nature, He had created me. If He created me and all mankind, I concluded that surely He would want to communicate with us. Since I had seen the danger of unfettered “personal revelation,” I supposed that there would have to be a type of communication that would be beyond human contrivances, something truly reliable.
That’s where the true leap of faith was – to believe the Bible was the inviolate communication of this good, relationship-seeking, Creator God. I couldn’t trust anyone or anything else on earth but that Book. But sometimes it was almost too painful to read, and I shrank from His touch. I began “The Mormon Mirage” to explain to myself as much as to anyone why I had made the decision to abandon the single most satisfying and soul-healing thing in my life.
I was startled over and over by the contrast between what I’d been taught in my BYU classes and what Mormon history really was like—the deceptions of Joseph Smith, the failed prophecies, the ignoble shams. The Book of Mormon continued to crumble before my eyes, unredeemed even by its quaintness and platitudes. The Book of Abraham was an embarrassing fraud. Different god, different heaven, different eternal past. Again and again the glaring difference between Bible doctrine and LDS doctrine disquieted me as if I’d never seen it before.
But still I wanted to believe the best about Mormons themselves and was genuinely, continuously surprised by their actions as well. I didn’t want to believe that people would lie about an apostate who left for doctrinal reasons, until another woman who left the Church learned that it had been announced in Relief Society meeting that she – who had always been faithful to her husband – was excommunicated for adultery.
I didn’t want to believe that my own local LDS leadership could be deceptive until I asked to be excommunicated from the LDS Church several months before The Mormon Mirage was to be published. Unbeknownst to me, a Mormon who was a self-appointed mole in ex-Mormon organizations was corresponding with me under the pretext that he had left the Church too and apparently had been reporting my research to Church leaders. The unarticulated and un-targeted sense of betrayal I felt became the permanent inner garment of my soul.
Who do you blame when you have been duped by a church? I couldn’t blame myself, though the responsibility surely lay there. I wanted to reproach myself for being suckered – but how could I hold responsible the trusting teenager? The trusting college student? If there is no loss as great as the loss of one’s god, there are few tasks to compare with setting out to learn to serve another One. If you’ve been burned by a god, how do you learn to trust another one? Make no mistake about it, I knew I needed what only He could provide: forgiveness of sins, eternal life, church and community based on truth, not beloved fictions.
I knew from the beginning that I would walk with a spiritual limp the rest of my life, the price I paid for being there, and believing. From this I have learned a truth about Mormonism: The power of its sociology – its cultures, its traditions, its people – is of such intensity and persistent power for those who love it, that doctrine and history can pale in significance unless truth is more important than any other thing. Truth is worth any limp, any price.Latayne
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