Hello, I’m Mary Elizabeth
Once upon a time, I was a mormon.
I am the youngest of three daughters born to a believing father and a believing , but mentally ill mother. Their temple marriage (with Ezra Taft Benson officiating) occurred before my father actually left on his mission, and ended when I was three years old. At that time my mother was hospitalized for what was supposed to be for life. We were sent to live with an aunt and her large family. Not a word to be spoken of my birth mother within my family for years. Another mother soon appeared and eventually five more siblings were added with the hope I’d never know better. I actually found out my step mother was not my birth mother when at the age of 12, a woman in our ward asked me which of us were “Shirley’s real kids.” I was flummoxed! I asked my parents and got the briefest explanation. Our family slogged onward. We were true believing Mormons who gathered bags of TVP, canisters of wheat, giant oily peanut butter , tins of evaporated milk powder, went to Relief Society bazaars, dance festivals, church wide basketball tournaments, road shows,yearly tithing settlements, complied with yearly financial assessments given by our bishop and visited church for weekly meetings and twice on Sundays. We even were called by a General Authority at stake conference; to live using only our food storage for two weeks. When we were old enough, we attended weekday church instructions at 6am, so not to disturb our ordinary school instructions. We were usually the only mormons in our respective class, grade and/ or entire schools. The oldest daughters were not seen as part of the family by our step mother, we were an obligation. All three of us girls were encouraged to spend time away from home, and we developed friendships with girls with nonjudgmental parents who tried to include us in their families when they were able. We were encouraged to date only other mormons, and certainly don’t become serious about a nonmember. My parents were eventually sealed in the Provo Temple. All three of us were encouraged to go to BYU find a righteous mate and marry young.
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
I came of age in the 1970’s in the “mission field”. I was the overlooked middleish child, was listening to the siren songs of women’s liberation, the opening gay pride movement and my own north star. When I received my own copy of “Fascinating Girlhood” (I was not delighted) from my YMMIA leader, I decided right then and there that I wanted to travel a more interesting and fulfilling road. I had worked close to full time since I was 13 (more because my “mother” did not want me around the house, than not desire on my part) and on Saturdays I was dropped off at the library at 9am and left to my own devices until pickup around 6pm (if my dad didn’t forget me). My summers consisted of drop off at the pool across town at 6 am and pickup on my father’s way home around 630 pm. My older sisters both worked while still at home and then immediately escaped to BYU. With my two older sisters gone and me shuffled off to my own devices, my parents and the “family” were free to do as they pleased during the day. The church messages of “Love at Home” and “Families Can Be Together Forever” never really rang true to me. At the age of 12 I was kicked out of my Sunday School class and spent a year in the adult genealogy class. I was a curious kid. After my first personal worthiness interview, I also began to refused to attend any more interviews with a male, no matter how it was presented. I was a walking rebellion dressed as an compliant overachiever. I began to work more and more and was working full time by 15 at both school and a local hospital. I had very little free time and valued doing almost anything over going to church. I did mostly what I needed to do, to keep the peace, always with my own goals in sight. I broke with the expected freshman year at BYU even though I had been awarded a scholarship at the Y. I stayed in Texas to start college. I was a member of NOW and very active in the planning for theYear of the Woman world celebrations (unknowingly in opposition to the Utah/LDS assault). I was active in the beginning LGBQTIA movement on campus. It wasn’t till my sophomore year that I decided to go to BYU (I discovered my BYU scholarship was still useable and left Texas for Utah) so I decided to give the mormon way a chance. Soon I was attending meetings, dating a RM and wearing Honor Code approved outfits. The one time I attended class in a dress, my professor lead the class in a standing ovation. I remained active in my outside interests. Eventually I got married and bought into the whole mormon way of life. Despite being tight on money, we tithed and gave fast offerings. I accepted any calling offered ( once I had 3 ward callings, 1 stake calling and 1 regional calling at the same time). I went through the whole repentance process and tried to support and fill in the missed spots for my husband. It was a challenging life. I knew I would always be the one in our marriage to be more invested in our kids, making a living and the church. I really thought if I could find the right balance, my husband would blossom into the head of our family and a leader in Zion. It was not to be. At first I thought it was living in Utah. The church I experienced in the “Mission Field” seemed kinder, more focused on the improving self than pointing out shortcomings, more tolerant and center seeking and just kinder. Maybe it was my kids becoming teenagers; more interested in spreading their wings than remaining in our six square blocks of ward boundaries. I was still very open and active and accepting in LBGTQIA issues and women’s issues. I wanted my son and daughter to be choose their own way and the consequences that followed. I wanted my children to feel drawn to kindness, honesty and being respectful of everyone’s uniqueness. I wanted them to recognize that Utah was not the center of the universe and was somewhat a theocracy. After 24 years of marriage my husband’s unfaithfulness was finally more than I could try to pray away and I was no longer to accept the blame for his choices. Shortly after the divorce was final, I was called into my stake president’s office and asked for my help in keeping my ex husband active. I was told that I was expected to remain active “ because the woman was always more faithful.” My two kids were struggling with not only a divorce but a blatant “Do as I say, not as I do” situation in our ward. A member of our bishopric was also getting a divorce and he used his position to put his children and spouse in a bad light. Because my kids were the same age as some of that family’s kids they were aware of the terrible physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the father. I was also hearing noises that my Democratic yard signs were unappreciated. It became apparent that I would get no support unless I was willing to air all the tragedy in my own family. When this specific member of the bishopric was named the head of our ward’s Year of the Family, I began to fully believe the church was a big boy’s club. It was a continual year or two of being told I was wanting and I was wrong to not try harder. Moving out of the ward was not much help, my children were struggling despite having great bishops in their single wards. We all struggled on. Eventually both my son and daughter married LDS partners. I married again as well. My husband was not LDS but very supportive of my efforts. My children each told me; after several years of marriage that they and their families were no longer active and were relieved that I told them it would not have any impact on how much I loved them. I had begun to see a real “ believe our PR and not what is preached over our pulpits” in church and the issue of the church being intertwined in Utah state politics and the church against the rights of the LGBQTIA members. The final straw was the news of the church’s hoarding of monies. The way the church used tithes and such to finance the hate in California and several states. The church of my youth was kinder and more inclusive ( or maybe my insight as a child was kinder and more inclusive). Today’s church of uber strivers and one ups man ship is not for me. I formally resigned in late 2019.
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#Link to this answer of 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?' by extxgal Were you offended? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?'
I was offended that instead of asking if my children and I were doing okay after an unexpected divorce, my stake president called me into his office to get my ideas on how the ward could best support my ex husband to keep him active since “he was a Melchizedek priesthood holder” and there was no question I would stay in the church because “women always stay.” I jokingly said “ you don’t care for me, do you?” He replied “No, you are not someone I would ever seek out as a friend.”
I was insulted and then it was sadness. Rather than make an effort or ask, my bishopric relied on neighborhood gossip ( often repeated back to me as fact) and assumed that I would be all in no matter what. Many of the things I was told about my then husband were out and out lies… and I am not a big fan of the man. Since we were no longer an intact family we were ignored.
#Link to this answer of 'What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?' by extxgal What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?'
My father served his mission in the area the Baker Fancher wagon train originated. He and his companion (late 40’s early 50’s) were taken off the road by the local sheriff and placed in jail for their own safety. A day later they were released at duck at the county line and told never to come back.
#Link to this answer of 'Does the church encourage leader worship?' by extxgal Does the church encourage leader worship? See more answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
The reign of Russell M Nelson is the closest to a cult of personality I have seen in my lifetime.