Hi, I'm Autumn.
I'm a social worker, I love popcorn and spending time with my husband, and I was a mormon.
I come from a long line of Mormons on both sides of my family. Through my mom, I'm a descendant of Solomon Angell, a member of Zion's Camp that helped build the Salt Lake Temple following from the directions of the architect, who was his brother Truman. His sisters Mary Ann and Jemima and mother Phoebe were all married to Brigham Young. Through my dad, I'm a descendant of Josiah Call, the brother of Anson Call that was murdered. My dad became a Stake High Councilman when I was 1 or 2 years old, so he was a High Priest my whole life. Needless to say, I was raised in the Church, and I wholeheartedly believed in everything I was taught. As a kid, I remember my parents had video versions of a books that were used to teach Primary lessons at the time, and had condensed versions of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine & Covenants. I watched them constantly and knew the scriptures very well. My grandparents gave me an illustrated children's Bible when I got baptized, and I read it until it completely fell apart. I earned both the Faith in God award when I was 11 and the Personal Progress award when I was 14, and I graduated from Seminary. I managed to read the entire Old Testament in just 12 weeks my freshman year of high school, including the weird stories they said we could skip. I was very strong in my devotion. I had a great, personal relationship with God. I knew the church was true, and planned on being Mormon for life.
On my shelf
On the Mormon Spectrum
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
My older brother came out to me as gay on my 19th birthday. Just a month later, the Church's Policy of Exclusion, or the November Policy, was publicly revealed. The PoX made ZERO sense to me. Gay people are born gay; how could the Church lock them out of heaven because of the way they were born? I tried my best to justify the policy, telling myself that all gay people had to do was follow the doctrine, just like everyone else. However, I began to look at my now-husband and realize that this wonderful experience that so many people get to have is denied to gay people; LGBT members are required to choose companionship and being true to themselves, or choose damnation. I began to realize how big of an ask "die alone" is compared to "hey, don't drink coffee, but Mountain Dew is still fine." I also, for the first time in my life, began to question the reasons behind the Black Priesthood Ban. The way the ban was taught to me was: "this was a decision made by prophets so we may never fully understand, but we did eventually get it straightened out so GO TEAM!!" I realized that Black people had also been locked out of heaven; because Black men were denied the Priesthood, Black couples couldn't be sealed together, which means that they couldn't enter the Celestial Kingdom. Why would God deny people a return to His presence because of the way they were born?
I tried my best to just not think about it, and I ultimately was sealed in the temple. My dad recommended that I talk to my YSA Bishop early so I could resolve anything that needed resolving before the wedding. I didn't care because I had nothing to resolve, but whatever. I first met with my Bishop three months prior to our wedding date and expected to be in and out in five minutes; my husband had met with his Bishop already and got it over with super fast. My meeting lasted about 15 minutes, most of the time being consumed by the Bishop asking about my adherence to the Law of Chasity. It wasn't one question; it was multiple questions about multiple different sexual acts, and after I said "no" to each act, he would ask "you're sure?" "Yes." "You're SURE?" It was the only time I have ever felt uncomfortable in a Bishop meeting. I had heard from other people who had gotten a temple recommend from him that in those pre-sealing recommend interviews he is THOROUGH, but in the moment the knowledge that this wasn't personal didn't make it any more comfortable. He told me that he would only give me a recommend if my church attendance improved. I have experienced migraines since I was just 3 years old, and they've gotten worse the older I get. Sundays are my migraine "crash day" (if you know, you know) and my church attendance was sporadic, and I rarely went to all 3 hours of church. I wasn't worried about it because the God of my understanding knew I was doing my best and could just meet me in my home. I figured that if the Bishop was asking to go to fix my church attendance, he must not know what I was dealing with. I told him I got my migraines and that's why I have a hard time attending church, and his response literally knocked the wind out of me.
I thought of all the missionary farewells I had missed as my friends from high school left. I thought about myself laying on a bus on a school trip to San Diego as everyone else explored the grounds of the San Diego temple because I had a migraine. I thought of myself at age 6 trying to sleep off a migraine in my grandparent's spare bed room on Christmas Eve. Did...did God not care about ANY of that? I had always believed God understood, but now this Judge of Israel was saying my struggle was irrelevant. For the first time in my life, I was angry that I as a woman couldn't be a Priesthood holder. I had always defended the policy, but now I felt like I would have to have the Priesthood for my testimony to be of worth. But me being me, I did as I was told: I went to church every week for all 3 hours. I had Sundays were I struggled to pay attention because I was in so much pain. Mondays and Tuesdays at work became torture because I NEEDED those crash days. Through it all, I was furious at God. How could He see me going through this and WANT this for me, after He had already told me it was fine? I realized that I had my salvation in jeopardy because of the way I was born, and I felt abandoned because of it. I hoped that going through the temple would help me restore my relationship with God; everyone always said going to the temple is wonderful and clarifying, and I thought that if I could learn to understand this sentence anywhere, the temple would be the place. Three weeks prior to my wedding, my Bishop signed the recommend, and I had to have an immediate meeting with my new Stake President in the area where my new apartment was, even though I had never met the man before, so I could get my endowments done. I walked into the temple ready to receive clarity, but all I got instead was discomfort. I didn't feel much of anything. As I sat with my husband afterwards, before we left, and I asked him what he thought. "It's good, you?" I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth and said it was good. I asked in my mind "Heavenly Father, why is this all happening to me? Please help me understand." For the first time in my life, my prayer was unanswered. We wouldn't speak about our feelings during our endowments for three years. We were sealed a week later, and we didn't return to the temple for a while. I didn't want to go back, and my husband never brought it up, so I didn't bring it up. My parents offered to do a session with us at our now-local temple so we could feel comfortable with the process and ready to go on our own. We went with them, and that session became our final session. A part of me realized I didn't want to be a part of this anymore, but I refused to accept the truth of my feelings because that would require me to reject everything I had ever known. By the time I discovered the Church's history, I was already hanging on by a thread. As I did research, a thought crossed my mind: If I had a child, and that child came out as LGBTQ, how would I feel raising them in the church, knowing what I know now?
I submitted my resignation that instant.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
#Link to this answer of 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?' by Autumn Phelps Are you lazy? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
I ate, slept, and breathed my religion. It took me being massively jarred to even begin questioning the church.
#Link to this answer of 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?' by Autumn Phelps Did you want to sin? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?'
I haven't really "sinned" much since I left. I tried coffee and think it's gross. Tea's alright. Tank tops are like the most immodest thing I wear. I don't smoke or drink. I'm as faithful as ever to my husband. I just came to feel that the Church was incongruent with the God of my understanding.
#Link to this answer of 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?' by Autumn Phelps Were you offended? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?'
I don't think "offended" is the word I would use. The PoX and the Priesthood Ban absolutely played a role, but I felt more confused than anything.
#Link to this answer of 'Are you happy?' by Autumn Phelps Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
I've never been happier. I have struggled with suicidal ideation since I was 9, and even though I still have my issues and my struggles, I have not had one serious incident since the day I sent my resignation in. I feel free of the pressure and people-pleasing that comes with Church culture, and I feel I am able to truly enjoy people without judgement.
#Link to this answer of 'How long was your struggle?' by Autumn Phelps How long was your struggle? See more answers about 'How long was your struggle?'
The time between the debute of the PoX and me submitting my resignation was just shy of 4 years.
#Link to this answer of 'Has your struggle improved since you left?' by Autumn Phelps Has your struggle improved since you left? See more answers about 'Has your struggle improved since you left?'
Definitely, yes. I no longer feel like I have to uphold an image, and I no longer feel mentally torn apart.
#Link to this answer of 'What do you believe now?' by Autumn Phelps What do you believe now? See more answers about 'What do you believe now?'
I don't know, and I actually feel content with that. I believe that I was created for a purpose and that I was meant to be on this earth, and I feel content with that.
#Link to this answer of 'In what ways did church leaders or members make your transition more difficult? Were there church leaders or members who were helpful to you? If so, how?' by Autumn Phelps In what ways did church leaders or members make your transition more difficult? Were there church leaders or members who were helpful to you? If so, how? See more answers about 'In what ways did church leaders or members make your transition more difficult? Were there church leaders or members who were helpful to you? If so, how?'
There are many members of the church who are genuine, kind people that have blessed my life, and I will never deny that. But I think the leadership doesn't realize how isolating it is when they say to "doubt your doubts." I was scared to discuss my faith crisis with anyone, my husband included, because I was afraid that they would be cruel towards my struggle, and this fear and struggle pushed me into the arms of the Exmormon community, who I knew would be sympathetic.
#Link to this answer of 'What is your life still missing? In what ways could your life still be improved without Mormonism?' by Autumn Phelps What is your life still missing? In what ways could your life still be improved without Mormonism? See more answers about 'What is your life still missing? In what ways could your life still be improved without Mormonism?'
I've struggled my whole life with feeling like I don't fit in, and that is something that hasn't gotten better as I got older. I don't have any cousins that I'm exceptionally close to, I have like two friends, and I don't feel like I fit in with the people in my small hometown as I've become more liberal since my brother's coming out and left the church. I just want to fit in. I want to be accepted. I want my kids to be accepted. I want to continue to be a part of the lives of the Mormons in my life. I announced my departure from the Church publicly so I wouldn't have to have the conversation while I am (hopefully, eventually) pregnant, and I got some wonderful love and support from my friends and family, but I still haven't heard anything from my dad's family, and I am scared of what it will like to be around them again now.