I’m a Mormon.
Or, at least, I’m still on Church records and haven’t been kicked out. Yet. So…Mormon by name only, I guess you could say. I haven’t been reading my scriptures or going to church in a very long time, much to my parents’ disappointment.
My childhood was filled with church every Sunday, service projects, scripture study, and early-morning seminary. (That last one is worse than it sounds, but more on that another time.) My teenage years there was Girls’ Camp, weekly youth activities, church dances, and monthly “firesides” (which is basically a second sermon for the youth on Sunday evening).
Sundays were god’s day, and my family took it literally. We couldn’t play outside, listen to the radio, or watch TV. It turned into a day of naps and reading. I’m still not sure how it was okay for me to read westerns on Sunday but not watch a TV show. That’s just how it was.
I’m not sure when exactly it was that my views started to change. I can’t even put a finger on it. Maybe it was when I started reading fantasy books, where in that world there were many gods and the characters chose which to devote themselves to based on their values. Maybe it was when I gave up on dating men in the church after one called me a whore for not sleeping with him, while another groped me on our first date.
I went through sporadic periods of church activity. For a year or two I would go every week, even when exhausted after a night shift, followed by a few years of not attending at all. A lot of that time I would use work as an excuse that I couldn’t make it, when really it was that I just didn’t feel comfortable there. I felt like an intruder. An outsider. I had the continual, gnawing sense that this wasn’t where I belonged.
I haven’t been to church now for about four or five years. My mother tells me that I can go (now that I’m married) without the stigma attached to living “in sin.” She still tries to get me to read my scriptures, and my dad has his way of still trying to pass along his fatherly will to us adult kids. I live on the opposite side of the country than them, yet there’s still some sort of power they hold over me.
Everyone I talk to, that I’m comfortable discussing such a personal subject with, has said that I’m a grown woman and need to live my own life and they’ll have to deal with it. And I know that, intellectually. But I still can’t find the courage to tell them that I just don’t believe the Mormon doctrine any longer. Telling them a few years ago that I had moved in with my then boyfriend was the hardest thing I ever remember having to do….and I’ve been through basic training.
Just like I haven’t found the courage to write up a letter to the Church to have my membership dropped. I know part of that is the fear of my parents’ reactions (Mom is already has a feeling that she was a bad parent, and calls me in tears to apologize for my childhood, even though I have told her she’s forgiven on numerous occasions), but I think also that part is that I would no longer be a part of something. Even though I don’t attend, it’s there, and moving away from that leaves me alone in a world that I’ve been very sheltered from. And that scares me.
So here I am. A Mormon agnostic in the edge of the Bible Belt, surrounded by believers who will be more than happy to tell me all the reasons that I’m wrong and I need to beg God for forgiveness for doubting His very existence then continue in blind faith.
That’s why I’ve come here and created this outlet. So I can finally speak my mind and my doubts. So I can search for the truth of things with logic without the pressures of my parents’ unseen control, and hopefully meet those going through the same struggles, or those who have already completed their journey.