Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apostasy: My Story

Recently I made a big decision. I decided to leave the Mormon church. I don't think that this came as a shock to many people. I wasn't exactly a very strict follower, I have a couple piercings, I did things that the church teaches against. I flopped back and forth between belief and atheism quite a bit without doing a lot of research. I didn't attend church much since I moved out.

I guess that I figured I would return eventually. I'd get married have kids, repent, go through the temple and be a good Mormon wife. That was the eventual plan in my head even if I never vocalized it. I thought that I was rebelling right now because of my intense fear of living forever. 

I got engaged earlier this year, his name is Scott and he is an atheist. Scott and I had a lot of conversations about religion from the day we met. They were mostly one sided. I knew he was an atheist, but he wouldn't really tell me why. He was reluctant to talk about it. He would answer my questions as short as possible, and get a little frustrated when I pushed for more.

I had told him I thought eventually I would go back to church and our kids would go with me. He thought that this was fine (he didn't really like it), he said that I needed to be open to our kids learning other theories as well though, and that he would not be coming to church with us. We were at an agreement. 

Then at the beginning of the year I had a conversation with a family member that spurred me to stop sitting on the fence. (Something I find interesting, in all the people I have told that I decided to leave the church, only one has asked me why. That person is my Dad. I find it odd that nobody is interested. I think they assume Scott influenced me, or that I never was a true believer in the first place. The lack of interest in my reasoning is what made me write this.) 

I started with something small. Something easy. I researched Joseph Smith, yes, I'm ashamed to admit it. I started my quest for knowledge by reading a Wikipedia article on Joseph Smith. I learned a lot of things. None of them really shook me. I read about Joseph reading the gold plates by looking into the bottom of his hat while they were in another room. I learned about an alleged relationship with Fanny Alger before he had the polygamy revelation. I dismissed them as untrue or exaggerated. 

I learned a lot of things, but there was only one thing I learned that bugged me. It was the fact that Joseph Smith had a gun when he was killed in Carthage jail. How many times had I been told that story as a child? How many times had I watched movies made by the church about this very incident? How many times had I read accounts of it? It's funny because when I thing about this I remember feeling guilty for reading it. Feeling guilty for looking it up, for having doubts. It's amazing how much my mindset has changed. 

I was so shocked. I thought it couldn't be true. It shook everything I thought I knew so hard. I started researching constantly. I didn't want to talk about anything but the church and whether or not it was true. I couldn't think about anything else. I found more and more things I had never known. 

Joseph Smith's connections to the Masons and the sudden appearance of the temple ordinances after going through their temple. Brigham Young and the teachings that have been stripped from the doctrine, Brigham Young and the Blood Atonement. Holes in the churches teachings. The ancestry of the Lamanites. The problems with the book of Abraham. Mark Hoffman, that was a big faith shaker. The discrepancies with the horses and the grain that Joseph Smith put in the Book of Mormon. (Horses and certain grains wouldn't have been here at the time the Nephites lived. They were brought by explorers) Connections between the mistakes in the bible and the same mistakes in the Book of Mormon. The church building the City Creek Center Mall. There are so many more. Maybe I will make an entire entry on this, but not today. 

I thought and thought. I wrote down everything that had bothered me as a teen and I researched. I researched constantly. At first it was difficult, I couldn't shake the feeling I was doing something wrong. I couldn't shake that Jesus was disappointed with me for doubting. I had nightmares that my grandma, who had passed a long time ago, was upset with me. I dreamed she wanted me dead. Slowly, as time went by and nothing changed in my life I became relaxed. But those first few weeks were terrifying. I read a website called reddit often before this, I discovered a sub section for ex Mormons. 

 It was unbelievably helpful once I got past the guilt of reading it. It's amazing to me how ingrained in me it was not to believe outside sources. For someone so accustomed with "rebellion" it was almost physically painful for me to do the researching. 

I wrote to the church, I asked for my name to be removed. I have yet to hear back. I think I'll try again in a few months, after life has settled down.

My family knows, telling them was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

Anyhow I am glad I've had this experience to grow. I am happier now. I actually don't mind going to church now that I no longer believe. I am not drenched in guilt while I'm there. It is easier for me to function now. I can't believe the difference it has made in my attitude and over all happiness. 

I didn't write this so that people will leave the church. I believe the average Mormon is a good person and they are trying to do the best they can. I am writing this so that you will search for yourself. Find out everything you can about your religion. Research the history, not just their side. Research the teachings and the original teachings. Question the motives of church leaders. If you could be happier then you are now wouldn't you want to know?

Here are some links I found helpful: (I like this one despite the use of papyrus)

And the one that started it all:

Thanks for reading. I love you, probably.