Recently an article entitled The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism has made it’s way around the bloggernacle. It’s packed with jewel phrases such as “It is simply impossible to leave the Restored Gospel for another version of Christianity…” and “…most Atheists are unaware of where their belief system will lead society” (the author provides no data to support either claim). But I think the damage that is done by such an article be plainly seen in its title in the words “Anti-Mormonism”. It is this type of rhetoric that leads to strained, severed, and destroyed relationships between those who leave the church and their families. While it is true that not all Mormon families shun their loved ones who leave the church, it is no secret that it happens. Just spend a couple days on r/exmormon and you will see what I’m referring to. Or better yet I’ll save you the trouble: examples can be found here, here, here, here, and if you really want to go down that rabbit hole, here. It is this rhetoric that has led to my anonymity around my involvement of MormonWikiLeaks, and I am not anti-Mormon.
Zelph on the Shelf published a great response which claims that the majority of ex-Mormons do stay silent because they’re “too worried about how they’ll be treated by their friends and families to do anything but slip away quietly, hoping nothing dramatic will happen”. The author goes on to say that most Mormons “have been taught that ex-Mormons are so bad for so long that they simply cannot process the fact that someone they know and love actually is one.” This is disgraceful. But it is exactly what I am personally trying to avoid by protecting my identity. It is not because deep down I know that what I am doing is wrong or shameful; on the contrary, it is because I know that many hearts of people so dear to me will break to upon learning about my involvement in the project. It is likely that many will loose respect for my opinions, views, and even myself entirely. Many friends will probably stop talking to me. Rare will be the one who will try to understand my motives and the pain I’ve experienced that drives them. Nobody deserves to live in fear of such isolation.
I recently finished Deconverted by Seth Andrews. I related with his exit from Christianity not only because I have experienced many of the same feelings, but because he once found himself in a very similar situation. The founder of The Thinking Atheist, he too struggled with knowing when to be public about his creation. Several years past after the site’s inception when he finally decided to do so. He got the reactions that he expected out of his faithful friends and family. But he also recieved tremendous appreciation from others going through their own loss of faith. A loss of faith ultimately leads to a loss of identity, and no one should have to experience that without the support of those they love the most. Like Andrews, I hope to reveal my identity one day. I do not know when that will be, but I do know that much has to happen first. I need to be able to say what Andrews says in the acknowledgement page of his book:
…I have no doubt that our bond as a family can cross all barriers. The differences between us can now be the brands of individuality that make life all the more interesting, and it’s my hope that my entire family will celebrate the desire of each child and grandchild to find his or her own voice.
Once I can confidently say the same, I will feel comfortable revealing myself. Once we can all confidentaly say the same, the world will change.