I have no problem sharing why I left the church. I'll try to make it really short, and then if you want to know more, you can ask. As you know, I studied history at USU. I love learning about history and doing research about people. My senior year in college, I ran across some things taught by Brigham Young that I didn't agree with. I went to the USU library and checked out all of the books by/about Young that I could get my hands on. The more I read about him, the more I disliked him, and came to believe that he was a false prophet. Because of that, I decided to read more about Joseph Smith, too, and was shocked to learn about his money-digging and early practice of polygamy (about 10-11 years before his revelation in D&C). So, after some research, I started to think that Smith was lying, too.
I still believed in a god, of course. When I started doubting Smith, I did research comparing the Bible to the BoM. I found a lot of contradictions between the two, and because of my loss of faith in Smith, I believed the Bible over the BoM. I stopped going to church and then eventually had my name removed from the records. I started going to a non-denominational Christian church instead. This was about November of 2003.
In June 2004 my best friend (a Mormon) died. A Christian friend of mine, upon hearing of his death, reminded me that my friend would be going to hell since he was a Mormon (and not a "Christian"). Obviously, that made me really angry. My friend was a wonderful person who tried so hard to do everything right. How could a loving god just send him to hell?
After reading a biography of Gandhi, I was again confronted with the thought that an otherwise wonderful, decent human being was going to hell, just because he didn't believe in god "the right way." I decided to stop going to church altogether, even though I didn't lose my faith in god. I had decided that religion was made up, since they were all basically saying the same thing -- "I'm right and everyone else is wrong." But, I was still spiritual. This was probably around August 2004.
By that January, I had become very skeptical about even the idea of a god. It didn't make sense to me anymore. I called myself an agnostic for a few months, but kind of felt like that was a "cop-out." I'd say I considered myself an atheist by mid-2005.
I know that probably seems simplified and like I didn't really put any thought into what decisions I was making. To the contrary, it was a torturous couple of years. The thought of being wrong almost scared me back many times. I was constantly confronted with the knowledge that I could no longer believe in the faith of my family, my childhood, my ancestors. It tore me apart. I would have dreams, constantly, that friends of mine had died and come back to tell me that I really did have to be Mormon to get into heaven. I had a lot of demons to contend with, as my brain could no longer accept the teachings of any church, but the feelings that had been instilled in me since birth tried to pull me back, to go against what I considered rational, simply out of fear of what I couldn't know.
Many people ask me if I just had too much trouble following the commandments, if it was just easier to fall away than to feel guilty as a sinner. Not at all. I was a VERY good Mormon girl. I broke it off with a guy I was seeing in college because I felt like he wanted to kiss too much. I was the Sunday School teacher in my singles ward. I had taken the mission prep class the semester before with the intention off going on a mission once I graduated (on a side note, some of the things I learned in that class started steering me away from the church, even back then, but that's a different story).
In fact, the first time I went to get ice cream on a Sunday made me feel REALLY guilty!
It's been a long time, now, and my lack of faith no longer haunts me. In fact, I don't have any of those old demons of guilt and confusion to deal with anymore. I'm quite happy and content with myself -- EXACTLY how I am. Do I know if there is a god? No, but the evidence I see points me towards "NO." Do I know what will happen after I die? Well, besides making my loved ones sad, no. But, that's okay. I'm fine with not knowing. For all I know, NOTHING happens. I'm just dead. Nothing wrong with that -- it won't matter to me at that point, since I'll be nothing. I don't worry about that kind of stuff, anymore. I just live, and enjoy living. I'm good for goodness' sake, not for any other reason. I'm okay with that.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
My quick de-conversion story
An old friend recently emailed me... not really asking why I left the church, but perhaps implying the question. Since I've never really included the story on here, I thought I'd copy what I wrote in my email back.
Posted by Michelle at 11:06 AM