Kelly has a story of conversion and deconstruction and deconversion. She went from being a “Golden Convert”, to feeling racist discrimination for the first time in her life in the Mormon church doctrines. She dug in to learn all the hidden issues in church history and despite her best efforts, could no longer believe the church was true. She found liberation in leaving and living a true & authentic life and wants those who are in the struggle to know they are not alone! There is joy in following your own path!
I was a “golden convert,” joining after just two weeks of investigating. I was a mormon.
The Mormon church became my identity, my new tribe, and my place of refuge. For the first six years, I dogmatically believed everything about the church. In my mind, I was all in, and there was nothing that could divert my testimony. I remained an obedient Mormon until the day I left.
There were many, many reasons I finally chose to leave, but my loss of trust (and ultimately belief) in the faith began six years after my baptism, when I learned that the Mormon church officially practiced systematic racism until 1978. Faithful black men weren’t allowed to be ordained to the priesthood, and black men, women, and children weren’t allowed to enter the temple or be sealed to their families, because Mormon prophets and apostles believed they were a cursed race.
Being half-black, learning about the church’s doctrines, revelations, and policies of racism hurt me deeply; they were incredibly personal. I had never personally felt the sting and shame of racism in my life, until I felt it through the Mormon church.
I remained in the church for five more years after I learned about these things, but I went through periods of intense anger, confusion, betrayal, sadness, resentment, guilt, shame, otherness, self-loathing, and doubt. I still wanted to believe the church was true and made every effort to study the “doctrine” with an eye of faith and by using church-approved resources, but the church had little to nothing to say on the history of blacks at the time and didn’t provide answers or address it in their manuals or websites; white-washing, modifying, and withholding information is intentional and openly advocated by church leadership.
After five years of mental gymnastics, of forcing myself to accept/justify/sustain things that I believed to be wrong, (ie: polygamy, the church’s treatment of LGBTQ people and its policy banning their children from becoming Mormon, the church’s involvement in discriminatory politics like Proposition 8 (which fought gay marriage in California), misogyny and patriarchy within the church, etc.), I finally gave myself permission to study the church and its history objectively, allowing room for reason, logic, and intellect as well as faith, and to be okay with whatever answer I came to regarding my beliefs about the truthfulness of the church.
That’s when it all came crashing down. This information didn’t come from “anti-Mormon” sources–most of it came from neutral, peer-reviewed sources as well as historical church publications, including Journal of Discourses, General Conference talks, document scans of past church leaders’ journals, History of the Church, and archived Ensign articles.
I did not leave the church because of sin, because I was angry, because I had a “faith-crisis,” or because I gave up. I chose to leave because I no longer believe in it. The church had become a place of anxiety, anger, and depression for me because it fundamentally contradicted who I am and what I believe. Leaving was a deeply studied, well-informed, much agonized over, conscious decision.
Leaving the church has been liberating, but it has of course been a tricky thing to navigate with family and friends who are still Mormon. Despite that, it’s been an AMAZING decision for me and I have no regrets. Life outside the church is good. Living your authentic life is good. Logic is good. Listening to and trusting yourself is good. You’ll find that those who truly love you for who you are, and who are secure enough with their own beliefs and convictions, will stick by you.
If you’re struggling in the church or contemplating leaving, You’re not alone! For the past year I have been very cautious about who I shared news of my leaving with, as I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone, cause rifts, or invite debate or reactivation efforts. But as the news has slowly trickled out, I have been amazed by the number of Mormon friends I have who have confided in me that they have also left the church.
For many reasons, people often choose to leave quietly or feel they have to go it alone. But if you are having doubts or are contemplating leaving the church, I know it can be scary and it can be so lonely–I’d recommend finding at least one safe person you trust that you can confide in! I took the plunge and reached out to people that I knew had left and it was comforting to swap stories. The main reason I’m choosing to share my journey publicly now is that I want people to know they’re not alone, and there’s no shame in following your own path; there’s actually a ton of joy in it :)Kelly
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