This is a series specifically written for what we in the ex-Mormon community call the nevermo — someone who never has been baptized into the Mormon Church. Since leaving the Church, I have found that nevermos typically know very little about Mormon culture and tend to be fascinated by it. That is not to say that others will not enjoy reading the series as well. I suspect that many exmos — ex-Mormons — will enjoy reading of my experiences. I also hope that my mistakes and findings described throughout can help those struggling with their beliefs find comfort and realize that it is completely normal to have doubts and questions regarding anything, but especially of a religion that demands so much of your time, energy, and thoughts. Lastly, I hope those true believing Mormons — referred to as TBMs by those that have left — can read and better understand the struggle and reasoning that happens before ultimately deciding to leave the Church. I fully believe in the words of Brene Brown when she suggests that stories are data with soul and that by sharing my story, others can achieve understanding and empathy.
There are dozens of sects of Mormonism, and I have learned it is important to specify where I come from. My ancestors followed Brigham Young and crossed the plains from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the mountainous desert of Utah. This sect of Mormons formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and if someone refers to the Mormon Church, it is rare that they are not referring to this Church. It is sometimes referred to as the “Mainstream Church” or the “Corporate Church” by members of other sects of Mormonism. It boasts over 15 million members around the world, is headquartered in Salt Lake City, has over 150 beautifully ornate temples all around the world, and yes, they’re the ones that send thousands of young men in white shirts and ties to talk to everyone they can about the Book of Mormon. For clarity and brevity, in this series when I refer to “the Church”, I am referring to this Church. Other fairly well known sects of Mormonism include the FLDS Church run by Warren Jeffs, and the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized LDS Church.
I grew up astonished at how blessed I was to be born into an active Mormon family; now I wonder what the chances really are of being born Mormon, and I think how wild it is that it happened to me. I grew up feeling very privileged to supposedly have a truth that few others had, but now I feel deprived of much of my adolescence. I grew up wanting to share Mormonism with everyone that hadn’t experienced it, now I dislike mentioning that I’m originally from Utah as people almost inevitably assume I’m Mormon. I lived the Mormon dream. I was baptized at eight, received the priesthood at 12, served a mission at 19, was married in the temple to another returned missionary at 21, had my first child at 23, and a second at 25. But by the age of 26, it became obvious to me that the Church was not what it claimed to be. I grew up an orthodox, devout Mormon, and now I’m a skeptical, free-thinking atheist. The transition was not easy, it was not short, nor was it without loss. But it has been one of insight, truth seeking, and ultimately liberation. It feels so terrific to listen to a song that I love that happens to say “fuck” and not feel guilty. Or to be able to choose what is right and what is wrong and not depend on others to do so. Sure, there is a lot more gray area, but that is where you really find yourself.
In this series, the doctrine of the Church will not be explained in depth unless it is needed; however, there will be links to official sources when doctrine is referenced. These stories are an intimate view into my life. But I feel strongly that sharing them is the right thing to do. I share them without shame and own them completely. As Brene Brown says, “tell your story with your whole heart”, and that is exactly what I plan to do.