I Think, Therefore I Left

There are a lot of reasons I left the Mormon church, but one of the biggest ones is this: No matter what kinds of mind-bending inconsistencies and outright cruelties you discover and present about the Mormon church, its members will inevitably dodge all responsibility to be creatures of reason with one of the following party lines:

“You just got to have faith.” “We’re not meant to understand everything in this life.” “I’ve had a spiritual experience, so I know Mormonism is true.” “That’s just anti-Mormon literature, not the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Or, my personal favorite, “When’s the last time you read your scriptures or prayed?”

It’s honestly amazing to me how the knee-jerk reaction of so many doubt-resistant members of the Mormon church is to a) get defensive about their beliefs and b) get even more defensive about their stubborn ability to believe in nonsense that doesn’t hold up to an ounce of scrutiny (a la zero historical, scientific, archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon‘s authenticity).

Honestly, the mental gymnastics necessary to remain a member of this notorious White Jesus Fan Club are truly one of a kind. But I suppose that’s what happens in a “religion” where you’re instructed to “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,” and are taught that “research isn’t the answer” to questions you have about the church.

When expressing some of these intellectual frustrations to an educated, Mormon friend of mine, she condescendingly coached me to use “and” phrases instead of “but” phrases when dissecting inconsistencies in the church (e.g. the church can have homophobic doctrine, and still be God’s true church).

All right, I thought to myself. I’ll give it a try.

The Mormon church is sexist and homophobic. It claims that its prophets must be obeyed as God’s mouthpieces and that they are mere mortal men who make mistakes, therefore we shouldn’t believe everything they say. The church disavows polygamy and actively preaches that polygamy will be alive and well in the eternities. It says there is no place for racism in the ranks of the church and deifies a book that uses dark skin as a metaphor for wickedness. Leaders of the Mormon church profess to be shepherds who protect their flocks and are also charged with withholding resources/good standing in the church from those too poor to fork over a tenth of their income every month.

I could keep going, but suffice it to say that the Mormon church forces people I deeply respect, like this colleague of mine, to live in a weird reality that insults their intelligence and moral compass. It’s a paradox, a trap of faith, that I dearly wish I had the power to shatter. These good people who pick and choose their “and” phrases, rather than have the courage to evaluate the big picture for what it is, could be so so powerful in the real world, if they would but be brave enough to look outside the cave.

Out here, outside of Mormonism, wealth disparity isn’t a natural consequence of righteousness vs. wickedness–it’s a social disease. Out here, women are not limited to being eternal companions and/or mothers in a future god’s harem. Here in the real world, we support our queer neighbors and let them have their wedding cake, too. Most of all, outside of Mormonism, you actually get to treat people like children of God.

If it sounds like I pity my family and friends who still cling to the Mormon church, it’s because I do. There is little that horrifies me more than the thought of being brainwashed into wasting my life (my mind, my goodness, my power) on things that bolster an abusive, fraudulent institution that exploits the time, money, health, and goodwill of its members. The Mormon “allies” and “progressives” who remain members do not see the depths of their hypocrisy, nor will they ever be the beacons of light they so yearn to be, because the “right thing to do” will always be determined by President Nelson and white men who financially profit from following the prophet.

I, for one, do not wish to live with BIPOC or queer blood on my hands. I’ve seen too much to simply ignore or dismiss the pain of others in the name of the Mormon God. That demonstrably homophobic, misogynistic, and racist alien doesn’t fool me anymore. Now, I trust what’s real and right in front of me: my own sense of right and wrong that I’ve nurtured with the light in my soul. No more will I feel shy about attending a queer wedding, or fear losing eternal blessings just because I stand with those the Mormon church rejects on principle.

I trust myself now, and give my faith only to those who deserve it.

Being free to actually follow the dictates of my own conscience means I can finally see, hear, and always speak whenever there is evil being allowed in this world. That is why leaving the Mormon church isn’t enough. Though you remaining Mormons undoubtedly wish that we exmos would make our exit quietly, you underestimate our collective strength to see things as they really are. We’re not speaking up because we’re bitter; we’re embracing our power to bring down the patriarchy that still bewitches and belittles the beautiful souls we love.

That is why you pieces of willfully ignorant shit will never be rid of me.

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