To Those Mormons on Facebook,
Hi. You know me from those threads about the Mormon church. I used to be you, active, planning my life around a church that I adored, even when I struggled. Ten years ago, I would have been saying identical words to yours. We have far more in common than you realize.
I don’t often jump into those threads because I know what it’s like to be in your head. I know how anything that isn’t unicorns and rainbows regarding the church means “Anti-Mormon”. I know that any links or evidence I post won’t be read, and will be followed up with feelings and words like “truth” and “god”. I could, pound for pound, predict your comments to me, because, I know how it works. We were taught to do that. Occasionally though, I wade in. Mostly because I remember the person who once upon a time, called me out, online. In that moment, I resented them, of course. When I was ready, I suppose, I realized there was merit in their argument and I took the time to actually think about it. Maybe one day, something I say will cause you to pause and think, “Wait. That’s something.”
Maybe it won’t.
You should know, most importantly, I do respect your right to believe. I’ve come to a place of understanding in regard to religion: Some people need it, want it and truly devote their life to it, even if I don’t fully comprehend that any longer. I really do respect your beliefs, even if you think my disagreement means I don’t.
But, if we’re going to debate, we’re going to need to get some things clear:
- I am an Ex-Mormon.
- I’m not the angry/bitter/offended/sinning/quitter/all of the above person that I know we were both taught Ex-Mormons are.
- I’m not trying to sway you from your religion. Again, I do respect your beliefs (though, not when they oppress a group of people). I’m hoping, naively, that by hearing my experiences, my thoughts, you’ll do what I knew I couldn’t:
Affect change in an organization that was once a huge, important part of my life.
You should know, every Ex-Mormon tries to stay in that boat. We wanted to stay in the boat. Many of us spent years, struggling to make our beliefs fit into the information we’d stumbled upon, or trying to make excuses for bad leaders or members. No one just jumps out of that boat without trying to stop it from sinking first.
Every time we interact, at least one of you will sum up my Ex-Mormon experience into some cliche that is regurgitated from a leader. You don’t ask me probing questions about the things (nor do you have to, really) I divulge, you don’t even acknowledge them unless you are dismissing them. My opinions, my truth, are useless, unworthy and Anti-Mormon. You accuse me of attacking the church as though I spend my time maniacally planning my next move to destroy your faith. You say I’m angry like it’s an insult, as though it diminishes my opinion.
Let me ask you this:
Why is being angry a bad thing? Wouldn’t you be angry if you were in my shoes? Don’t you ever get angry when you see someone or something mistreating a group of people because they think that’s the “right” thing to do? What if you found out that everything you knew was a lie? That you’d given up friends, opportunities, lost your family, and in my case, even a child, to a religion that had hidden so many things from you? Wouldn’t it enrage you to see that same organization continuing that abusive cycle with other people? Wouldn’t you be frustrated to be spoken to in a condescending tone because you left this organization? To be written off by loved ones and even strangers?
You can say you wouldn’t, but you would, because being angry is part of the grief cycle. And, dear Facebook stranger, losing your faith is heartbreaking, it’s a death. Your commentary, the way you lash out at those who oppose your faith? It triggers a visceral reaction, the very way it would if you told someone to “get over” a loss of a loved one or any other tragedy. While I no longer consider it a tragic, personally, it still absolutely qualifies as a tragedy that has left scars on me. I can’t understate how hard it is to lose your faith, and your attitude towards me and other Ex-Mormons only serves to further divide.
My whole entire life was based and summed up on the precepts of Mormon Doctrine. I’d spent my entire childhood, youth and even early adulthood preparing for a life devoted to Mormonism. When I lost that, my world was turned upside down. I had to figure out who I was without Mormonism. I had to rebuild my beliefs and even my life. I had to mostly keep it all to myself because, like you do on our Facebook discussions, I was dismissed and chastised for leaving.
We’re both not going to back down on our positions and I respect that. Do you know there is so much you can gain by listening to the experiences of Ex-Mormons? You are being offered information that so few of us feel comfortable sharing; Compassion and empathy would go a long way. Even more, actively hearing us instead of trying to make us invisible? Giving me the very respect you demand regarding being able to freely practice your beliefs?
That’d be a miracle.
That Heathen Ex-Mormon On Facebook
Image Credit: Eder Lopez
Image Credit: Eder Lopez