I came across the forum yesterday while in search for the holy grail of a CALM chapter in Salt Lake. I got excited when I saw the discussion on the oil situation and posted in their first. So, now that pesky little task is out of the way I suppose I should introduce myself and provide some background.
I grew up on the east bench of Salt Lake. My family is extremely dedicated to the church and my father has been everything from a bishop to an area authority. Our ward was intensely saturated with members. Of the 14 boys my age in our area only one wasn’t LDS, and he later converted. So, I ate, slept, and breathed the church. While my personal relationship with the church was at times rocky all was more or less kosher until I got to high school.
I was a biology nut with delusions of going to medical school so I entered a program my senior year where I attended the University of Utah for the bulk of my school day. Of course I had to go to my high school long enough to satisfy my parent’s early morning seminary requirements. During one such morning our seminary teacher enlightened us on the evils of evolution which degraded into a comical testimony affair. The students essentially held hands and chanted, “Hosanna, Hosanna, evilolution is bad!” Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately,) in my backpack I had a couple dozen tubes filled with drosophila colonies that I was using to induce and track evolution. That moment planted a powerful dissonance in me that set my personal exodus in motion.
I spoke with my bishop and he encouraged me to have faith that after this life I would be enlightened and all would be well. I partially bought that but started to fade away from the church. When my nineteenth birthday rolled around I decided not to go on a mission. But my parents applied the thumb screws and after about six months they suggested that I should consider either going on a mission or getting an apartment so I could “get on with my life.” Not surprisingly I had a miraculous conversion and within a few months I was off on my Jesus-sharing adventure to South America.
Instead of being the faith promoting experience I was expecting my mission was a psychological quagmire. The first Sunday I was there was a shock. The stake record book indicated there were about 900 members in our ward but when we arrived I was greeted by about 25. Our mission had about a %4 retention rate. We had a new mission president and he shifted our focus from proselytizing to reactivation. I spent the bulk of my time tracking down former members and trying to get them to church. A surprising number didn’t even know they were members and those who did showed little interest in returning. There were stories of nice white missionaries doing things like giving kids popsicles and taking them to the local font for a fun little dip in a big tub. The time I did spent proselytizing was just as dismal. I remember telling a companion that they should change the term, “promise of Mosiah,” to “fraud of Mosiah.” In our area Evangelical religions were on fire. I guess our popsicles couldn’t compete with their mass healings. In the end despite my herculean psychological assault on the poor masses I was mostly unsuccessful, at least compared to my expectations.
I returned from my mission with my faith intact but my soul scarred. A year later I met my first girlfriend and three weeks later we were engaged, ahhh the efficiency of the mormon baby generating machine. Our marriage was very rocky the first year. My wife and I were jolted into the reality of relationship management as the honeymoon period wore off and we struggled to get to know each other. But we stepped through the motions, finished school, and moved forward. A couple years later we purchased Infobases, the church’s wondrous repository, (or suppository I now like to think,) of information. While gleefully sifting through topics I entered the term, “evolution.” Much to my dismay I discovered the church had made an official statement on the subject, (I believe under Joseph F. Smith’s reign,) and it was decisively negative. It drove a wedge through my psyche. It started a wave of conscious thought regarding the validity of the church’s claims and for the first time I really asked myself, “could it be false?” I actually didn’t touch the history side of the equation, just the churches relationship with science and the core logic behind the book of Mormon and other church doctrine. I found it illogical that God would send Jesus to the Americas but not to the other five thousand corners of the world. I also wondered why God would send us to earth as a test and not tell %99.9999999 of the people about the test. I decided baptism for the dead is a pretty lame attempt to answer that because it undermines the reasoning for sending people to earth as a test and genealogy can’t possibly gather the names of even a small sampling of the earth’s total population through the ages.
I kept going to church for my wife, but I no longer believed. It fractured our relationship and put us in that horrible stasis of one spouse in, one spouse out. It’s such an awful situation, particularly when you have children, of which we have three. I didn’t want to leave my wife whom I loved and I really didn’t want to lose or scar my children but I was intensely unhappy and fought depression. I still went to church but it was painful for me. I wanted to claw my eyes out during testimony meeting in particular. I knew enough about psychology to see the overt psychological manipulation that was seeded in everything the church does and it drove me nuts. After a while I made a deal with my wife that I’d go one week a month but no more. I also told the bishop that I didn’t believe in it and suggested that I not be given a calling. It helped alleviate my anxieties but I think it just shifted them to my wife.
I’m a very fortunate man. My amazing wife is a history major. Without me even knowing it she had begun her own odyssey into the churches murky history and being the bright and logical woman she is she escaped with the truth. I’m very happy Joseph Smith was a pedophile and slept with other men’s wives or I might be divorced today. On one deliciously happy day she told me she’d come to the same conclusion. Hopefully she’ll get on here and tell her story from her perspective. We decided it was time for a reboot and we moved to a new house in another area and had our names removed from the church.
Unfortunately as I’m sure most if not all of you are aware, life is not always easy for an ex-mormon living in the sea of the believing. My family ostracized us, except for one of my sisters who is also an ex-mormon. My wife’s family has been much better. My father-in-law works for the church as a church historian. He was actually somewhat key to our complete departure, but that’s another story. They’ve been remarkably supportive but I think it still changed our relationship with them to a degree. Our previous friends wholesale disappeared. Non-mormons in our area are mostly much older than us and members vacillate from treating us with caution to the neighborhood pariah. Sometimes I think I’m cursed with the leprosy of truth. But luckily for me I work in an industry that is primarily non-LDS but my wife is very unlucky. She struggles with trying to raise three young children and has no real friends anymore, hence my search for a CALM chapter in SLC that led me here.
I’m actually very interested in hearing how people have faired after leaving the church. Do people find happiness in other cities or can it be done staying in the valley? Are there any social groups that meet in Salt Lake? We’d really love to meet some other people who are in our situation.
To the individual who hosts this board and to those who post, thank you. It’s nice to have a place to go and have some contact with fellow survivors and I look forward to hopefully participating in the discussions.