How did you lose your faith in Mormonism (or Orthodox Mormonism)?
They made it easy by teaching me that Jesus loves me. Back in the 80's God's love was not conditional, so I grew up believing strongly in the Golden Rule. I don't want people to treat me like crap, so I treat them like I want them to treat me if the roles are reversed. The church treats people like crap. Like chewed up gum on the bottom of your shoe. They did not act like the Jesus I believed in, and when I was no longer afraid of what leaving would do, I left. Not long after that, I resigned. Because although it's easier to walk away, I don't want my name associated with it. My name is all I have.
It started when I occasionally took off garments in exchange for normal underwear due to sweating, chaffing, infection, skin irritation and mental health. I noticed how relieved I felt when I didn’t wear them, and how it improved my attractiveness based on my husband’s response. One day I revealed to my husband (in a full out crying fit) that I can’t bear to wear garments anymore. Stopping cold turkey, I also stopped paying tithing and stopped praying and reading scriptures just to see how I felt. As a sort of experiment I noticed my anxiety improved. I went from having anxiety attacks multiple times a day to none or occasional. I also started on an antidepressant and therapy.
In fact, the only reason I could write this letter and tell my bishop my thoughts was because I was already giving up my temple recommend and my membership via formal resignation. I'm handing it over, saying, “HERE…TAKE IT!” By resigning I’m proactively taking that power away from the church. Bishop roulette will no longer apply to me, because I won’t answer to a bishop, anymore. I've gone through every scenario about how to stay in or get out and it comes back to the signs of a cult every single time. The only way I can be congruent with my thoughts and feelings is by not being Mormon. The only way I can protect my kids and teach them what I think is true going forward is by not being Mormon. I wish there were another way. If I could find another way, I would take it. But I can't. I can no longer say I think something is true that I know is not. And I can't be a part of a religion that doesn't allow me critical inquiry. I can’t stay in a religion that doesn't allow me to say, “Hey you know this flaming sword story of Joseph Smith? I don't believe it was from God,” plus 300 other incongruencies. I can't say that openly in this church or ward. I can't say, “Gay people are born that way. We shouldn't be punishing them. The prophets wrong on that. They’ve been wrong in the past multiple times. Current leaders have repeatedly on lds.org, in writing, repudiated or invalidated past prophet’s teachings.” It’s true, but I can't say it openly. The fact that you can Google what are the signs of a cult and in every list I find one to eight signs that I am currently experiencing and have watched my family experience is undeniable. How can I in good conscience remain a member? How could I in good conscience keep my mouth shut around my own children about what I believe and the truth? The answer is that I can’t and it’s not healthy to ask me to.
The week after my daughter got married was when I attended the Relief Society lesson on careful vs casual, where I almost lost my mind. I went home and wrote what I knew I could not say out loud, without ruffling feathers, in my own church with my own friends. It started out as just a ranting journal entry and then I thought if I don't share this with my children, who already knew I no longer believed, but they did not know why or see my struggle, I would be seen as casual for pulling back, when nothing could be further from the truth. I could no longer keep my feelings to myself, so I sent it to one family member and a few friends in the ward. Then I got up the guts to share it with leaders who were working with my kids. It took me nine months to share my journal entry/coming out letter around, but my leaders had to be last because I needed to be in a position to be ready to give up my temple recommend and my membership once my leaders saw it. Why should I be punished for knowing the truth and not being allowed to talk about it or my interpretations of the facts? Why would I fear losing my temple recommend for something the church was not being entirely open and honest about? Church history isn’t my fault. Church truth claims that don’t add up are not my fault.
Now I can truly say that I know how the cognitive dissonance for my child who resigned must have felt when she was in our home to constantly feel like he/she didn’t have a voice. And I'm not alone. When I started getting responses after sharing my journal entry with other people, I found many who felt the same way I do. Some said things like: “I don’t blame anyone for not staying when their faith (like mine) has been completely shattered, no matter what the cause. I am truly sorry for your pain. It is a pain that is deep in the soul. Something that is hard to explain and difficult to talk about to some people. I also, agree, that it is the WORST to sit through meetings where things and attitudes are shared that are like a dagger to your heart, because you have a different perspective, and you don’t feel safe to share that perspective. It reeks havoc on our mental health. Church should not make us feel like that!!!” Some said, “The older I get, there seems to be more questions than answers. The loneliest place in the whole world to me is at church, surrounded by people! Crazy!”
This is an institutional problem because the church says it’s the only true church and teaches that disagreeing with the brethren or groups that oppose them leads to formal punishment. I no longer want my kids being taught these two very destructive principles. I can let go of all the truth claims not being true. They didn’t have to be true for me to stay in. I just needed the religion to healthy 100% and not harmful. Let it at least pass that test, but it doesn’t. I feel like I have to stand up for what is right, even if I look stupid, even if I lose all my friends, even if I have to give up a religion that I loved and would have given my life for. People see what they are looking for. If you guy a yellow bug, you will start to notice all the yellow bug cars because that is what you are looking for. LDS members/local leaders are going to see what they want to see and nothing I say will change that. But the same goes for me. Now that I can see the beyond being Mormon and the harm that Mormonism can cause, I’m going to start seeing the red flags and warning signs that members won’t.
My hope is that my resignation will send the signal to my children that it's really okay to be on a different path because that's what I've been teaching them for years. I want to openly be in direct conflict with the teaching that the church is the only true church. I don’t believe it and I don’t want my kids learning that at church. It’s a harmful teaching and it’s not true. I can’t pull them out completely, because it would be social suicide here (then COVID hit and we got to leave immediately, haha). My hope is that they will at least not feel blindsided like I did, and that they will be allowed critical inquiry to come to their own conclusions.
Last week I gathered my family around the table to tell them that I was resigning. But the family joke is whenever I gather them around with an important message is that I'm always saying I’m have another baby. So, I started off by telling them your dad and I have an important message to tell you. “We’re having another baby. As everyone starts freaking out, I add it’s a baby boy and I’m due in six months. Then as (husband) is laughing, I say, just kidding, but I do have an important announcement… I told them that I was resigning from the LDS church and that I would no longer be a Mormon. One child “great now I'm not going to have any friends.” His words not mine. No religion should have so much power that my child thinks that if his mom leaves the religion he won't have any friends. Hopefully that's not going to be the case but the fact that he even said that or thought that is another sign of a cult. If you can't leave an organization with your head held high or without people inside thinking you're making a bad decision that's on many cult sign lists.
I don't use the word cult casually. I don't use that word meanly. I don't even use that word aggressively. I use that word with all the devastation of someone who has spent 45 years and had to admit to herself that her religion could be described as a cult when looking at warning signs. I wish I could say otherwise. But I did not make up the signs. And that's why I don't feel like I can make any decision other than to resign. I’m resigning for my own mental and health and to show my kids that I am living what I’m teaching, which is that your path is your own and no ones path is better or more true than another’s.
I'm not leaving over the fact that church history doesn't add up. I'm leaving because I can't talk about it. I can't be open about it. I can't have my own opinion. I can't have a difference of opinion. And that's not healthy for anyone. It's not my fault that the church has repressed and hidden information that could undermine their truth claims in the past and are now finally at least posting a lot of this information on lds.org. It’s not my fault that they still are not teaching it openly in weekly classes all over the world, or in preach my gospel, or at conference. Maybe one day they will. I doubt it, but anything is possible. Unless the time comes where I feel like I can express what my interpretation of the facts are without fear of punishment, I can't be a member of this church. Even in my very act of resigning from the LDS church, there is one more sign of a cult, which is you can’t leave without some sort of punishment. I resign and I lose my temple marriage, lose my baptism, which is supposed to keep me out of the highest degree of heaven and exclude me from my family in the afterlife. This may hurt my believing family members. It’s the church’s attempt to punish me by removing by supposed ability to be with my husband and my children in the next life. The church thinks it has that Priesthood power over me, but I know that it does not. The only punishment that will hurt and does hurt me is that I lose my temple recommend, which means if any of my children choose to stay in and be married in the temple or go on missions, I will not be able to attend the temple with them. That is the main reason I have stayed in so long. Remember how I plan ahead? I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to attend some of my kids weddings, or my future grandchildren, for that matter. But that’s the churches punishment, not mine. So, I’m willingly giving it up. I willingly accept this cult-like punishment. Because that’s what it is. There are also numerous good things, good qualities and good people, which I hope my children can still associate with. That’s why I say I want to make it clear that I am resigning from the institution, not the ward family. I hope to keep my kids and myself in the things that are truly healthy and good and avoid the things that could be construed as signs of a cult.
Prop 8 even though I live in Canada became a big deal for me. Canada had leagalized Gay marriage in 2008. Now I will admit that at this point my attendance was a little spotty. We had moved to a new ward a few years previously and my two oldest said, no more church for me. They went when my parents visited but they were out. My Daughter kept going. I didn’t know about the bullying she was getting in YW. All I saw was an increasing unwillingness to attend church or mutual. Once she was in high school she made some new friends, she invited them to church she tried, she we t to steak events, I even drove. Crumbs she over came her fear of water to do baptisms for the dead. Ok, that was back in our old ward, my Mom and Dad were the baptistery workers, but she tried. Eventually she came to me and said. The church is garbage. I’m not going anymore. My husband meanwhile is having significant leg pain, he travels for work, and people hardly see him. I try to keep going alone, but it’s hard. Crowds are hard for me, but I still did what I needed to do I believed. Then Prop 8 happened. And it struck me like never before that here was the church once again, telling, or trying to tell non- members how to live. And of course it’s Monson, I live in that mission. I went to seminary with Ballards kids. It just didn’t seem right. So I started asking other people. The answers I got. I will not remunerate them here, but there were some dillies. I pointed out that by forcing someone to do something, was taking away their agency. Oh, no, why? Because the profit is the profit for the whole world. And some things are SO important that it’s ok to take away someone’s agency. My Bishop suggested I pray about it. And so I did. It took a long time. I didn’t want to hurt my Mom. But then they started pushing the family proclamation. And I stated remembering all times I was told not to ask questions. Then my Brother came out of the closet, that was the final straw. My Mom died in March. I’m still waiting to put my take me out of this mad house papers in. Because well, I will, just not yet.
Once you look with clear eyes, it’s all garbage.