Why I Left
When I first joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was 14 years old; an emotional teenager who felt that something was missing in my life. My parents had stopped attending the Episcopal church where I was raised because our minister had been transferred to another parish, and they did not like his replacement. I attended the Catholic church with my friend Joan, for a while. It felt odd to me. I also dabbled in paganism – anything that I thought would help me to get in touch with my spiritual side. Now that I think back on this, I wonder if I didn’t inadvertently open the door to some evil mischief.
At that time, in the 1970’s - the Osmond family was quite a pop sensation, and my friend Joan introduced me to them. We learned that they were “Mormons,” and, after mentioning this to my father, he mentioned that the Mormons had an outdoor pageant close by and that he would take us to see it if we wanted to. So, my first exposure to the LDS church was at the Hill Cumorah Pageant in 1973, when I was an eager 13 year-old.
Both Joan and I received free copies of the Book of Mormon that night, and we stayed up until the wee hours, eagerly reading. I don’t remember what my first impression of the book was – I thought it was interesting and was excited to be exposed to something beyond what my parents had given me as a child. This journey was “all mine,” something I was doing on my own – not because I was raised in it.
After a few weeks of going to Sunday services at our local LDS church, I decided that I liked being in this place where people called me “sister” and always shook my hand to greet me. Joan wanted to join, and she became quite strong-willed about it, to the point I was sucked in with her. But I didn’t care – I was happy to find a place where I “belonged.” I was an independent “seeker of Truth.” I joined the LDS church because it was my personal discovery – not because I thought it had all of the Truth, but because it filled me with all kinds of “feel good, warm, fuzzy” ideas. And I needed that. I was on the edge of puberty and confused by a lot of things. The LDS church “held my hand” and gave me all of the answers so that I did not have to think for myself.
For many years, I was quite active. I learned to appreciate the women of the church – they always seemed strong and ran their homes with pioneer efficiency. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, they were anxious and depressed. I married young and had my family right away – something that the church strongly encouraged. Little did I realize that by doing this, I had robbed myself of opportunities to grow and develop my own persona. I was deeply involved in the responsibilities of raising a family and being the perfect homemaker. I married a non-member, mostly because I lived in an area of the country where there were few LDS men. All of the young men that I grew up with went out to Utah to BYU to find wives. I was a convert, and somehow, got this feeling from the guys that were born into the church, that I was not “good enough.” I think this was my first clue into how the church brainwashes people. I feel fortunate, however, that this experience made me more open-minded about the church and other religions. I never felt “better” than other people, although I felt “blessed” because I had been brought to the “truth.”
I moved out west with my family and tried desperately to bring the LDS gospel to my husband. He resented this, and after four years of marriage, ran off with another woman. I have not seen or heard from him ever since. That was 21 years ago. I feel greatly to blame for trying to force my beliefs on him.
I moved back east after my divorce to be with my friends and family, and met a returned missionary that I had grown up with. I was ecstatic – he was marriage-minded and accepting of my sons. We got married in the Washington, DC temple. I thought the ceremony was odd, rather pagan and occultish, but there was so much happening, and it was on a group temple trip. And my former dabblings in paganism had prepared me for the ceremony in an odd way that I could connect with it. The whole thing went by in a blur. Little did I know what hell I was in for after that. If I was pig-headed and stubborn on points of doctrine, husband #2 was even more judgmental and harsh regarding the LDS gospel. His heavy handedness soon grew into emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. Not only of myself, but of my children. He used his priesthood “authority” as his alibi for his actions. My life became nightmarish. If I could not grow and develop before – then I was literally the walking dead now. After seven long years, I left, but did not see that the LDS church could have any blame in this situation. I thought it was me. That somehow I wasn’t valiant enough in living the gospel. That’s what the LDS church teaches. If you don’t have a testimony of something, then you aren’t trying hard enough or you aren’t living your life the right way. Perhaps my relative “open-mindedness” (in comparison to other LDS I knew), was my greatest stumbling block. I went through great periods of panic and depression.
I remained fairly active in the church, still. Why wasn’t I listening to God, to whom I prayed every night for guidance and protection from evil? He was trying to tell me things for years, and I wasn’t listening! I went on to ruin another relationship because of my insistence that he join the church and take me to the temple so that I could get a temple divorce from husband #2. (Not that the church could POSSIBLY be blamed for having a doctrine that prevents women from temple-divorcing their abusive husbands!) I rushed into my marriages because I was afraid of breaking the “law” of chastity. Since then, I’ve known others who have done the exact same thing, much to their sorrow. An LDS friend of mine has a 19 year-old son, already divorced. They married too young out of the same fear of breaking that “law.” What a tragedy!
About six years ago, I began to severely inspect the doubts that had been in my mind for years. Take for instance, the Book of Mormon, the “keystone” of the LDS church. The Internet has provided access to many documents that I would have never seen had I depended on the LDS church to educate me. The Smithsonian’s statement alone on historical and archaeological inaccuracy is enough to crumble the LDS church’s claim that this book is of divine origin and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I had always disliked Brigham Young because of statements that he has made regarding women and young men, and his teachings of blood atonement and that Adam was God the Father. Ridiculous! Now, with access to the Journal of Discourses and other historical documents, it has become obvious to me that Joseph Smith was a master of double-speak and brainwashing, and that Brigham Young was never a prophet, either. Of course, I also looked into Joseph Smith’s prophecies. Doesn’t even the LDS church teach that a true prophet can be measured because 100% of his prophecies become fulfilled? There are many of Joseph Smith’s prophecies that can NEVER be fulfilled because people in question have passed on (including himself.) Didn’t he say that if he ‘lived to be 85 years old, he would see the Son of Man’ (second coming)? Although the Bible says NO MAN knows the hour of his coming! The LDS church sweeps this under the carpet! And the history of polygamy. Joseph Smith practiced it LONG before he received a “revelation” on it – and his wives were virginal teenagers that he brought into the house against Emma’s will, even though the Doctrine and Covenants said he was to have her “permission.” Of course, if she didn’t give her permission, then she was damned. Damned if she did, and damned if she didn’t! The more I researched, the more it didn’t add up.
For years, I had felt that true religion comes from within. I will always be a Christian because I believe that Jesus Christ is my savior. I finally had to realize that the LDS church was a church founded on deception. They had always called the Catholic Church “the whore of the earth.” I would like to say that it’s the LDS church that is the whore of the earth – leading many astray, “as sheep to the slaughter.” Just look at church history! What a literal fulfillment of this statement!
It’s taking me a long time to empty my brain of Mormonisms and re-learn all of the things that I was taught in my childhood. It’s taking me a long time to regain my self-esteem and sense of self-identity. The church took that away from me, too, and tried to cram me into their mold of what women are supposed to be. I’ve never met so many depressed, anxious women in one place in my life! I thank God for helping me to see the light. I’ve gone through episodes of pure anger - my life got completely screwed up because I tried desperately to follow the LDs church’s teachings. At the age of 41, I am living with the stigma of being divorced three times. I had tried hard to “be good” and not to question anything because I had no priesthood authority and ‘God did not inspire women of the household’. After beating myself up about this, I am at peace because I know I am not perfect. In fact, I have much to offer because of my experience. I am a sinner and I NEED Jesus Christ in my life. I am now wary of ANY church dogma or anyone who says “it’s this way because that’s my interpretation of this passage in the Bible.” To anyone investigating joining the Mormon cult, I say “run away and don’t look back!”
I thank God I am FREE!!