ex mormonism

I think one reason it took me so long to break away from my religion is the fact I kept apologizing for it. Like for the homophobic things in the Bible I kept thinking “it’s all about interpretation”, and since I had been expected to keep that religion it took me so long to realize that maybe my religion is actually homophobic. That maybe my religion is actually harmful. I’m not sure what the point is for this post but I feel like this was such a startling realization for me, and I was wondering if this happened to anyone else.

It’s amazing the translating your brain can automatically do to turn things you hear into something that makes sense with what you already think. 

I’m just remembering being Mormon, and being a girl in the church, and how much it should have bothered more. Not that I wasn’t bothered. I was. Just, in  retrospect, not enough. I was mostly bothered about the clear time/effort/budget difference between the youth programs for boys and for girls (I distinctly remember feeling furious when my brother’s Priest High Adventure involved Kayaking across the Canadian border onto various islands alongside literal whales, while the Young Women’s culminating Laurel activity involved a short hike up a local hill in a familiar park followed by a trip to the mall). 

But doctrinal stuff? My brain just translated it. Instead of listening to what was actually being said and thinking through the implications, I would just hear something else entirely, or immediately think of the best, most generous and beneficial interpretation. Without having to think about it. I didn’t think, “oh that’s a problem” and then actively seek the mental gymnastics to resolve it. The mental gymnastics were so automatic I didn’t even know they were there. 

I’ve been thinking about this because I just remembered that women can’t go to outer darkness. Which is a thing I somehow didn’t notice while I was active and believing. Even though, when I found out later and went to my church materials to confirm, it was clear no real attempt had been made to hide it. The “priesthood holder” requirement was right there. 

I know it’s silly to say, but on a doctrinal level, I think being incapable of being damned would have been more insulting and jarring to me as a believer than any of the other stuff I had found personal explanations for. It’s just so clearly condescending, trivializing, infantilizing. Which is probably why, somehow, when I believed, I didn’t notice it. If you had told me straight out I probably would have told you you were mistaken. 

My brain just translated “men” to people. “Brotherhood” to family. “Sons of Perdition” to “Children of Perdition”. The words were interchangeable to me. I didn’t think about them having a meaning that could possibly be excluding me. Especially as nothing “for the brethren” seemed particularly beyond my understanding or ability. 

I didn’t believe they did exclude me. I thought that everything that was for Priesthood holders and Priesthood worthiness was for me as well, just without the rituals to back it up. I thought the differences were merely ornamental, and justified them that way. Like, obviously if women don’t need to be “ordained” with the priesthood because we already have an equal power, then we must be just as concerned with how to wield that power.

I didn’t see myself as unequal because I didn’t act and react like I was unequal. I assumed the lip service about “different but equal” was just truth, and that those differences were superficial, which meant I did have power within the church. But those differences were fundamentally entrenched, and I wasn’t actually invited to the table I was imagining I was sitting at. I thought I had a say, or would grow to have a say, and that was never the case. I was, at best, indulged to keep me quiet and out of the way.

As I got older, it become much easier to see how the church was mistreating and hurting other people before I could see what it was doing to me. I saw racism and homophobia radiating from the doctrine long before I grasped the sexism. But looking back, the older I got the more my questions, insights, and contributions in Sunday school were shot down, especially in the co-ed classes. Even things I said or asked that were faith promoting. At the time I thought I just talked too much. But looking back, I was detracting from the lesson for the boys

The substitutions our brains make even when we’re looking directly at something are fascinating. There was a time when I would have laughed in the face of anyone who told me the church was sexist, truly unable to see it even as men led every single meeting and wrote every single rule.

I can’t believe that, even for a moment, I thought I was equal in a church that doesn’t even consider me good enough to be damned.

to monday

an ex-mormon soundtrack

battle cry (ft. sia) - angel haze

can’t fight against the youth - panic! at the disco

devil - tyler glenn

doubt - twenty one pilots

first vision - tyler glenn

heaven - troye sivan

holy - PVRIS

hurricane - misterwives

kick me - sleeping with sirens

the love club - lorde

midnight - tyler glenn

playing god - paramore

trash - tyler glenn

message me if you have any more to add!

8tracks

Oh my GAWD

So my parents and I were watching this PBS show called Finding Your Roots where they go into celebrities’ family histories. Obviously there’s at least one slave ancestor or Holocaust/pogrom victim ancestor per episode and this one had an ancestor who narrowly escaped an antisemitic execution by the Bolsheviks and my mom asked why large noses are a common trait on Jews. I explained that it’s because for most of history Jewish people have mostly had kids with other Jewish people and it concentrated that trait in that population.

We ended up getting to the topic of why antisemitism has been so pervasive and such an unfortunately powerful force in history. As I understand it, and Jewblr feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, it’s because Jews have traditionally been more educated and healthier and therefore were a convenient scapegoat.

But my dear, Mormon, mother, has a few verses from the Book of Mormon that she interprets as saying that the ancient Jews got too uppity wanting answers about the nature of the universe and therefore god let them be the western world’s punching bag.

Holy antisemitism mom.

Christmas crossover concept

Ryan Ross was a grinch. Raised in a broken home, with an absent mother and an alcoholic father, he never really got the point of festivities. His Catholic school tried to force him to believe, but by the time he joined panic, Ryan was a bitterly cynical atheist.

Brendon Urie was an ex Mormon and a fellow atheist, but he did not find it hard to tolerate Christmas the way Ryan did. He celebrated it as a day where you could meet your loved ones with presents and music and cookies.

After Panic split, Ryan grew colder and found himself retreating to the hipster part of LA. He lived alone in a creepily decorated house and he even built a moat around it to keep strangers away. His sole companion was his dog, Dottie.

Brendon was having the time of his life playing Sinatra and drinking and partying with his friends all December. He did not seem to miss Ryan at all. It hurt Ryan and made him despise Christmas even more. When he heard Panic was having a grand Christmas party, it was the last straw.

Fixing a pair of antlers to Dottie’s head, he started his car and vowed to stop Christmas, once and for all..

You know what's peculiar...

I have -never- heard of a convert who wasn’t down on their luck when they started talking to the missionaries. It’s always “I was into drugs…we were going to get a divorce…my kid just died” etc etc

It’s because the missionaries prey on those that are weak or have a hard life. They sell investigators rainbows and sunshine and refrain from telling them the actual history of the church.

To all my ex-mormon and questioning mormon friends who are dreading the holidays with True Believing families: 

REMEMBER: your worth is *not* based on your obedience or your beliefs. Your worth is based on what you do. Do good and you are a good person.

REMEMBER: you aren’t required to live your life for anyone else. Stand by your choices and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making them. 

REMEMBER: you are valid, and so are your beliefs and doubts. Don’t start shit with the true believers, but don’t take shit from them if they start it. 

REMEMBER: you are loved, even if you can’t find it around the dinner table. 

REMEMBER: you are not alone. We are with you. We’ll be here. If you need us, ask. 

I’m finally beginning unpack what happened to me in the Mormon cult. I’m not capable of talking about what happened yet. I’m reading a book about captivity experiences: concentration camp survivors, domestic abuse survivors, political prisoners, religious cult survivors.

So much of what I’m reading is so relatable. I cried, wailing, for an hour and half while I was reading. I’ve been crying like that every day since last Wednesday.

There are scarier things than death. Like… having someone hollow you out like a mannequin, taking your autonomy and mind and heart and values and beliefs and dignity and morals and even your personality away from you. Being turned into a thing, where not even your body belongs to you. Being totally powerless to stop it and knowing that not even death is an escape.

I go back and forth between being shocked and horrified that it really happened and then in the next minute feeling like I’m just making it up and I am not allowed to talk about it. I’m far enough along to know that’s just their conditioning; I mean, they did surprise me in a temple ceremony by unexpectedly giving me a new name and forcing me to take a vow of total secrecy, after all.

youtube

This sums up a faith transition out of the church so very well. Do watch - you won’t be disappointed. I would share my favorite quotes from his piece of poetry, but it would end up being the entire thing. :)

  • ex-mormons: [deliberately post anti-stuff in lds community tags]
  • ex-mormons: [insist that any modicum of thought will make people realize the lds church is false]
  • ex-mormons: [say members have been brainwashed and are sheeple]
  • ex-mormons: [spread half-truths about lds teachings]
  • ex-mormons: ugh!! you mormons have such a persecution complex!! you just hate us because we have different beliefs than you!!!!! uwu

One of my brothers - 17, active TBM, priest - shares these on Facebook from time to time. It’s from an account called Memes for Mormons. When I see things like this I just have to shake my head. 

What this meme says is literally true: no one WANTS to give a talk (that is, preach doctrine) but everyone WILL drone on and on and on during testimony meeting. 

To True Believing Mormons, it would seem, this is a droll little observation on human nature. To me, however, this points out a major hypocrisy. 

No one wants to give a talk because it means work. TBMs feel right at home passively absorbing all the church’s bullshit from the pulpit week after week. But ask them to actively participate in the teaching of doctrine, and a good 90% plus of the mormons I’ve ever known will visibly swallow a retort as they reluctantly accept the assignment to speak. Giving a talk means study and reflection. It means doing a tiny bit of goddamned homework. But that’s too much to ask of most people. Apparently. 

BUT. Everybody fucking LOVES testimony meeting. Every month, at least in my ward and the ward’s I’ve visited, there’s a rush to the pulpit to talk. And what do the faithful, the devout, the god-fearing talk about? THEMSELVES. All the inane, useless personal bullshit that they insist on presenting as “spiritual experiences” (remember that ol’ gem of a phrase?). They go up because they have a captive audience, a whole chapel full of people who are required to sit and listen and nod approvingly… and then try to one-up when it’s their turn, of course. 

Religions was, is, and always will be about the SELF. First and foremost.
“God” is a creation of the individual mind, a semantic mold into which we pour ourselves. He is literally in the image of the believer… because the believer creates god in his/her mind. 

This is one of the things that made me leave the church. The clear and total hypocrisy, the absolute, unadulterated pride it takes to conceive of your own experiences as more important than the word of god. That’s what TBMs are really saying with this behavior. They are more true to themselves than any god. 

What’s the phrase: “by their fruits you will know them”…?

Blank Page

The first time I questioned if the church was true was about 3 years ago. Up until then I had been a TBM. I was 16 at the time and had never even had a doubt that the church wasn’t true.

I was working one night with my manager, Danny, and my coworker named Jared, who also happened to be in my ward. Jared’s dad came in to get some food. He sat and talked to Jared and my manager for a while so I just left and did the dishes.

Later that night after Jared had gone home Danny came up to me and said that he needed to tell me something. At first I was worried that it was about how I was working and that I was doing something wrong, but it was so much worse than that.

He said that while he was talking to Jared and his dad, they called me a nickname. I thought this was strange because I have never really had a conversation with Jared or anyone in his family before.

“They call you ‘Blank Page’”

Interpret the nickname as you will but for me, this really hurt. For me, this was their way of saying that I had no personality, I was boring, I was dumb, and that I didn’t really matter as a person. I was already insecure about myself and this made it 10000x worse. But of course, it gets even worse. Apparently most of the young men and the young men leaders also refer to me as ‘blank page’.

This new information made me start to question if the church was even true, because how could the people that belong to the church be so cruel?

This small amount of doubt paved the way for me to open my mind to new ideas and realize what a harmful environment I was surrounded by and how damaging it was to myself and others. I will always be grateful to Danny for telling me the truth and not trying to spare my feelings. Because yeah, it sucks knowing that the people you surround yourself with think that you are nothing but a boring, empty person, but I would rather know than be left in the dark.

parents: listen to your children. listen to their concerns, their fears, their interests, their joys, their frustrations, their goals in life. they are human beings, deserving of the respect you give your peers. when they do something potentially dangerous, be the parent, but just teach them how to be good people to others. don’t swing the gospel over their head in order to get them to “obey”, because no one is perfectly obedient all the time, ever.

maybe then you won’t have to snoop on them in order to know anything about them beyond the identity they make around you because they’re scared.

Having a baby girl

Finding out the sex of our baby was the nail in the coffin for the Mormon church. I don’t know how ANYBODY can justify the behaviors and culture of sexism in the church, let alone raise their daughters in it. I am still struggling with the effects of the church in my own life; body issues, self worth issues, sexuality issues, having a voice in my life and my marriage, etc. as soon as I found out I was bringing a girl into the world, I decided to never go to church again. No one will tell her that a husband is more important than an education, no one will tell her that a baby is her only, most fulfilling option, no one will ever tell her to be subservient to men by their words OR their actions. She will not grow up believing that her role in life is to fulfill her man sexually and then provide him with as many offspring as possible. She will believe, or I will try my damnest to assure her, that she is more than her body. She doesn’t need to look like a cover girl because she has so much more to offer this world than a great pair of tits and a tight ass. I hope she travels and learns about other cultures, I hope she educates herself and pursues a fulfilling and contributing career, I hope she looks at women waiting around for their husbands and kindly suggests they worry about themselves first. And, if she chooses to have a baby, I hope she knows that her life isn’t over and it isn’t a bad thing if you don’t feel fulfilled at home. I didn’t. It doesn’t mean you love your baby any less.

All this, and more, is why myself and my daughter will never again attend a Mormon church.

How do you identify?

I’ve recently been involved in some discussions about how I and others of my religious/ cultural ilk identify ourselves. Here’s what I say:

I am an ex-mormon.

I am “mormon” by birth (by “covenant”…  though no one asked my permission) and by culture. I think of myself, even today, as “culturally mormon,” in much the same way some Jewish people refer to themselves as culturally Jewish despite not practicing any of the religious aspects of that culture. 

I am “ex-” by choice. For me, that’s what the prefix represents. I didn’t choose to be mormon, but I did choose to leave. I chose to claim my own identity. And part of that identity, to me, is recognizing that while cultural mormonism is encoded in me - it’s an inescapable fact of my life -  it does not determine where I go from here. 

I also consider the term “apostate” an appropriate moniker. Mostly because it sounds bass-ass and scares the shit out of True Believing Mormons (TBMs). But to me, “apostate” means one who has rejected the gospel and thereby chosen “outer darkness.” I embrace what mormons fear: I am an adversary. 

I am “anti-mormon,” in the sense that I openly oppose the church, it’s leadership, and their teachings. In my view, this is an aspect of being “anti-religion” in general. In the same way, I am an “atheist” because I not only believe that god does not exist objectively, but because I fight against the human manifestations of “god:” religion, churches, faith-based brainwashing, etc.  

I like “heathen” too. Means I get to have fun. 

So, I’m sincerely asking anyone and everyone: how do you think of yourself in the context of mormonism?