I love a good exit story. Whether it’s leaving a bad relationship, a poisonous work environment, or the oppressive belief system one was raised with, the personal growth and introspection that leads a person to head for the exit of a ruinous atmosphere is fascinating to me and I enjoy hearing about and sharing the exit stories of myself and others.
My “short” exit story from Mormonism is pretty typical. I had a crisis of faith where I felt that the rules and tenets of Mormonism were so biased against the well-being and independence of women that it caused me to look critically at the reasons that a loving “father” in heaven might have set them up in that manner. Or did s/he? Could the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, have made it all up without regard to the impact it would have on women? What I discovered was that Joseph Smith could have created the religion, then I came to the conclusion that he did create the religion. The ponderizing over this matter and the resulting epiphany all happened in one day. Mormonism was not for me–and I left.
The next day, I debunked Christianity in my own mind. Not only did it not make sense to me that someone should be punished for crimes committed by others, but science doesn’t support a virgin birth. I just couldn’t believe it anymore.
Pondering the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka The Mormons) claimed to be the one, true church at the same time that all other practicing religions claimed the same thing, created confusion. Which was the “right” one? The clarity I found by realizing that all religious leaders are misleading their followers gave me peace–and therefore, I did not seek a religion to replace the one I’d escaped from.
I now consider myself a Humanist, but that’s really just another name for atheist. I believe that people possess the capacity to change themselves and the world around them for the better. I no longer believe in a god or gods who will swoop in and provide a long-awaited rescue to those who have been marginalized or abused by other people. I love what Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists had to say about what atheists believe:
I started this blog because fifteen years ago, I unburdened myself of the requirements and backpack full of shame/sin/judgement/guilt that comprises Mormonism and I blossomed. I had no idea how heavy the load was until I’d set it down! I felt nothing but relief. The promised destruction due to former members who have rejected their “truth” has never arrived. Fifteen years after leaving, here I sit: healthy, happy, and feeling pleased with the direction my life has taken. Not only am I happier now than I ever was when I was a member of Mormonism, but I possess more empathy and less judgement toward others. I forgive others and I forgive myself for being human. I wanted my Mormon family to experience the freedom and joy that I have found, so I started a truth campaign to see if I could get any of my Mormon family members to look beyond their guilt spiral, see the truth about Mormonism, and free their minds.
That was six months ago.
My endeavors haven’t turned out as clear-cut as I’d anticipated. Although I haven’t changed any minds (that I am aware of), my family and friends now know where I stand regarding Mormonism and I’ve at least provided them with general truths about their belief system and avenues where they might find more information (incidentally, this information (aka truth) is something that Mormon leaders have specifically instructed members not to look at–even if it exists within their own history books!). I’ve identified myself as a disbeliever to the other non-believers among my friends and extended family and hope that I’ve left my door open for doubters to feel free to approach me with their questions or concerns.
I hope that the truth/logic seeds I have planted will someday take root and eventually come to fruition. In the meantime, since I also recognize that I have no control over what others will or won’t do (and before I completely alienate my family through continuous criticism of their precious religion), I have abandoned my truth campaign within the Facebook platform and carry on with the knowledge that I’ve done all that I can do for my family.
Through this blog, I hope to cast a wider net to show the world the truth about Mormonism and religion in general. If I can’t save my family from their comfortable prison, perhaps I can save other seekers-of-truth?