Difficulties in dealing with Mormon family members when leaving the fold.

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I was born and raised in the Mormon church. As I look back now, I can remember having questions about the way the church ran things but when I questioned, I was told NOT to question. I got married for the first time in 1984, to a less active member, who promised to go back to church. 2 weeks into the marriage, I found out that he was abusive. He hadn't been physically abusive, but I felt that it was not far behind. I was so scared I couldn't stay. I tried to convey this to my family and was chastised for not trying harder. I tried to explain to them what was going on and because he hid it around my family, they chose to believe him instead of me. With their disapproval, I got out of the marriage. My mother warned me this would be a big mistake, saying that the Mormon boys would assume that because I was married and had sex, that I couldn't go without it. I felt like used goods.

Then 2 years later, I met my future husband. He was not a member of the church. He did not judge me of my past mistakes. He loved me for me. In 1988, we were married. 2 months later, because of the pressure from my family, he was baptized. His family, all non-members, came to and supported him in his decision even though they did not agree. They loved both of us unconditionally for the next ten years. In that time we had two children. We had both become very active members of the church. We went to the temple and were sealed together as a family in 1993. I have always had my doubts about the temple ceremony, but just kept telling myself that I didn't have enough faith and I needed to work harder. We both threw ourselves into our callings believing the promise that our family would be blessed. Many times, we would leave our children with his parents to attend meetings. There were times when one or both of the kids were very ill and still we would leave them with his parents while we went to fulfill our callings. We would have given our lives for the church.

Then in October of 1997, I was talking to my sons preschool teacher about religion and she shared with me that she believed the Mormon church to be a cult. This surprised me, as I have never heard the Mormon church been called a cult. I could not get this out of my mind. So I started to investigate, so I could show this lady that we weren't a cult. We were a good thing.

What I found made my life come crashing down around me. I found that the Masonic and the LDS temple ceremonies, were VERY similar. TOO much alike. This really bothered me. Then I found that Joseph Smith was first initiated into the Masonic rite on March 15, 1842. (History of the Church vol 4, pg 550-552) The following May 1842, Joseph revealed the LDS temple endowment ceremony. The coincidence was just too much. I kept asking the question about why didn't God give him the ceremony BEFORE he had gone to the masons?

A few years ago, there was this book out called "Secret Ceremonies" I had no interest in reading it, but I found out my Mother-in-law was going to be reading it so I found a copy to read so I would be able to answer any questions that she had. One part that troubled me a great deal was the penalties that members had to make as part of the ceremony. We had gone through AFTER the 1990 changes. I thought she was making this up. This could not possibly have been happening in the temple. In the MORMON temple. So during one of our temple trips, I was sitting next to another lady from our ward after a endowment session and asked her if it was true and she told me yes but would not really talk about it. This shocked me, but I pushed it aside. God MUST know what he is doing. So I didn't think about it again.

Then I find out in my research now, that these penalties were a big part of the Masonic ceremony. It REALLY bothered me and shattered my feelings about the temple. I have always thought that the temple and it's ceremony were so sacred and we were the only ones that had this because God had "revealed" it to Joseph Smith. When I saw how similar it was, I know longer believed that it had come from God. It felt like the framework of my life had crumbled. I tried to talk to my husband about it and he wouldn't even listen.

Wanting to find answers, I went right away down to the church and talked to a counselor in the bishopric. I told him what I had found and how it made me feel. I told him that it made me doubt the church and it's teachings. I felt like I had been lied to. He didn't know half the stuff I was telling him about the temple but just told me there were things we just didn't know and that I should pray. He then bore me his testimony. On my way out I of the church that night, another sister asked what was wrong and so I told her what was going on. With a emotionless look on her face she stood there and told me that what I had said didn't shake her testimony because she simply wouldn't believe such things.

I went on home and not long after I had been there, this sisters husband showed up to talk about the temple. He told us that he had a friend who used to be a mason and then was baptized into the church and then went to the temple. This friend was offended because the temple ceremony was so similar to the Masonic ceremony. He never went back to the temple. We were then told that it was similar to the masons because they originally got it from Solomon's temple and that it had become distorted through the years and that Joseph Smith was "inspired" when he saw it and that God restored it through him.

This sounded like an ok answer but it just kept bothering me. Why would God, if he wanted people to believe, let things happen in such a way that would cause obvious doubt? I kept searching. My husband hadn't told me, but he had started to have doubts too and was praying that I would find the answers to the truth. He admitted to me that every night he did this and everyday I would find something negative about the church. I looked into Solomon's temple and women were not even allowed in the ceremony. How could this be the same? Something was not right. I wanted answers and I started praying that I would find them. I started searching on the Internet. I started asking friends and family. With every question to my family, I got criticism. "Why was I asking?" "Did someone do something to you to make you feel this way?" "You just need to have faith and pray, there are some things that we just don't know." At this time, I was taking medication for severe migraines , 4-5 every month and they started blaming my medication for my behavior. It seemed they did not want to answer my questions, but just blamed me for asking them.

I then stumbled onto Eric's web site. I started reading through the stories and couldn't believe there were so many former Mormons who had questions. I took a chance and contacted a couple from one of the stories. I was amazed to find that they did not want to push anything on me, but would just answer the questions that I asked. With every bit of information that I found, I would try and check the reference. I was still leery of these "anti-mormon" people. Maybe it was all lies? In fact, the people who wrote these stories, almost seemed paranoid about the church. My husband and I thought this was very strange.

I kept asking questions of friends and family. I would pose questions to them of the literature I found on the net and they could not answer, would give me their own answer that could not be backed up, or they would tell me that I needed to have faith and pray. My bro-in-law told me that if I prayed about the church being true and received any answer but a positive one, that I would be wrong. He also told me that if I left the church, I would be unhappy the rest of my life.

Then, at the beginning of December, we were told by a friend that the bishop was going to call us in and he had talked about excommunicating us. We were shocked and got in contact with him and went to his office for a meeting. He had the Relief Society President and his 1st counselor join us in this meeting. We were told that three sisters had called the RS president and reported us as having distributed anti-mormon literature. One of these sisters would not even give her name. We knew the other two. We were also told that several of the friends that we had gone to with questions, had been reporting us, saying that we were asking questions about the church doctrine. The bishop told us that these accusations were very serious and could lead to excommunication. We were in shock. How could anyone say this about us? It wasn't true! We assured the bishop that we were not distributing anything but told him that we had serious questions about the church history and doctrine. With these false accusations, we had doubts about returning to church. We left that night and I went home to find out were this lie had started. My husband called one of these sisters (sis H) and asked her if she had said anything about us and she told us no, that she would never do that. One of the friends, sis B, who was helping us with our questions, had moved from our ward to Idaho. I had sent to sis B the story about the Mountain Meadow Massacre, because this was one of the things I was questioning. This story had been sent through e-mail and had our name at the top. When she was done with it, she had thrown it away. Sis H. had gone to visit her a month before this meeting with the bishop. I found out that while she was there, sis H had taken that story that out of her garbage can. She brought it home and then told another sis in the ward ( the other one who reported us) that we were distributing anti-mormon literature.

NOW I was paranoid. I wondered about everything I had said to anyone and how they would twist it around to find us guilty. I felt I could no longer trust anyone. We made the decision, and sent in a letter to have our names removed from the records. I would NOT be excommunicated for lies, for something that I did not do.

I waited until after Christmas to tell my parents. When I told them that we had been accused of giving out anti-material, she asked if we had been doing this. I was truly surprised that she would even need to ask this question. I later sent her a letter and told her we were having our names removed. Her response back to me was to tell me that I was confused and I was alienating my family. I would regret my decision, cause they would be together as a family and I would be on the outside. This made me angry, as I had tried to tell her the process that we had gone through to arrive at such an important decision in our lives. That all seemed to mean nothing. I conveyed my angry feelings to her through e-mail and did not hear back from her for a long while. I wrote my sister, who I had been asking questions of and asked her why our mother would accuse me of alienating her.

A few weeks after this, I received a letter from my sister. She kept referring to us having questions as our "problem". She told me that if I thought that our relationship would be the same, I was dreaming because we would have nothing to talk about except the weather and our kids. I was hurt by her letter. I had always thought there was something much deeper to being sisters than a church. I guess I was wrong.

I decided to write and tell my aunt who I was very close to. I wrote out in a letter what had happened and how I felt about the church and why we left. I told her how much I loved her and how I didn't expect her to understand, but hoped she could continue to love us. One month later, I received a letter from my aunt. It was only one page and was too short to summarize so I will quote almost the whole letter.

"Never in my life have I been as disappointed or heart-sick over anything. You have spent 30 some odd years being a member of the church-it took you 2 months to let some weirdo on the inter net convince you your whole life had been a lie? How very weak your testimony must truly have been! You are very mixed up. ____, (She addressed my husband) your support on this road to hell is really a shock.

In a quote from President Hinckley it says...
"We cannot be found on the sidelines carping and criticizing and finding fault with one another. We must be loyal to the Church against all its enemies." I'm sorry-but you have become the enemy-I will not support you in this-nor do I want you calling here-I have no wish to talk to you at this time. I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ-of that I have no doubt-How awfully sorry I am for you...."
[end of letter]

I suppose that she thought that this would make me change my mind. Just the opposite happened. Never in my life have I felt more sure. It makes me wonder why my family would think that I would put myself through this on a whim. They seem to pass over the fact that I HAVE prayed for an answer. They don't want to hear that part of my story. I have been through many emotions since leaving the church. Most of which, were caused by the rejection of my family. I never asked them to support me. I only asked them to love me unconditionally. The day I received the letter from my aunt, I cried at the loss. I did not stop loving them. My 7 year old daughter watched me as I cried and I was honest and told her how this person who used to be so close to our family now would have nothing to do with us. I wanted my daughter to remember that very important lesson. I told her to always remember that day. Remember that ANY church who would teach its members in such a way, that they would reject and hurt one of their own family members in defense of that church COULD NOT BE TRUE!

I have been told many times that the people are not perfect but the church is. Now I feel that the members reflect the teachings of the Mormon church.

I know through reading the responses to Eric's web site, that many people will want to know "What sin did I commit?" As they think this can be they only reason a person would leave the church. I would like to ask them, "Why are you so afraid of this web site?" IF the church is true, it will stand no matter what.

I would like to ask the church. "Why don't you tell the truth? If these things that are in the church history are so explainable and so harmless, why don't you bring them out into the open for all to see? What is the church so afraid of?"

I have been and still am, dealing with my family questioning my sanity, thinking I am lost, calling me the enemy and showing me pity for my decision. I have members of our former ward who constantly ask a friend who is still in the church if we are shaking her testimony. They tell her when "people like them" leave the church, they always like to take someone with them. Those "people" used to be our friends.

I have had the opportunity to see both sides now. When my husband joined the church, his family who did not agree, supported him and our religious choices. When we told them we were leaving they asked us if we were sure. Their love for us is unconditional. My children can see this. They see Daddy's family who are not members, loving us no matter what. They see Mommy's family who ARE Mormons, only wanting to love us if we are Mormon. What does this say about the teachings of the Mormon church?

I could write 2 more stories. One, to talk about the doctrine of the church and the great lie that it supports. The other, just to talk about the great emotional toll that leaving a cult-like religion has done to me and my family. When a 5 year old child asks if his Grandma is mad at him because we don't go to church anymore, THAT is truly sad. Even in the Mormon scriptures is says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

Mormonism---is like a cancer that has invaded my body, even my very soul. When I left the church, I removed a large lump, only to find that the cancer had spread. But day by day and bit by bit I am removing that which would prevent my body and soul from living free.

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