I’d Like To Bear My Testimony…

It took me years to leave the Mormon church. It was a long, slow process that I made official after members of the church were urged to support Proposition 8.

I was seven months pregnant with my first child when Prop 8 passed. Although I hadn’t been to church for more than a decade, and no longer considered myself Mormon, it was then that I was suddenly gripped by the notion that I absolutely must get my name off the church’s record books.

I wanted to do it to stand up for gay rights but also because I felt it was paramount that my daughter be born into a religion-less family. She will be taught about all religions and that none are right and none are necessarily wrong – except those crazy, snake handlin’ mofos. What’s that about?

But enough of all that. What I really wanted to say was that as much pride as Mormons feel being a part of that religion, bearing their testimonies all over the place, I feel that same pride in being an ex-Mormon. I’d like to bear my testimony and tell you that clawing my way out of the religious pit that was inflicted on me since before I was born is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I’m proud that I made it out with my brain relatively intact.

Only a recovering Mormon from Utah knows what it’s really like to be fully immersed in a set of beliefs that aren’t just beliefs but a lifestyle, to live in a community in which 98% of people, including your entire family, is that same religion and then… AND THEN having to come to terms with the fact that, like Santa Claus, nearly everything you were taught about life and death (and the “pre-existence” and the kingdoms after death) doesn’t exist. To reconcile your new beliefs with the old, not to mention family members, friends, it’s a tough row to hoe, yo. It’s why I feel a kinship to each and every person who has stumbled down the same difficult path.

So as much as X-Mormon of the Year Award is a sort of a humorous bit of fun, I am super thrilled to hold the title for 2010. In light of all the controversial events of the past year, including gay rights, immigration and the simple fact that Utah Senator Chris Buttars and Rep. Carl Wimmer (not to mention that crazy sumbitch Glenn Beck) are Mormon – it means, as the great Charlie Sheen would say, I’m WINNNNIIIINNNNNG.

But the battle continues

 

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    Alan says:

    Concerning the “battle continues,” there’s a number of articles going on presently at Mercury News (out of San Jose) concerning the gay/Mormon divide. I’ll just respond here to one of them, a fascinating interview of a gay Mormon in a mixed-orientation marriage talking about about the current state of things. A few worthy quotes to tackle:

    If you treat Mormons as your enemy, you are going to have a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can only tell Mormons so many times that they hate gays before they start believing you. Going back to the housing example [nondiscrimination ordinances in Salt Lake], it did not pass in all of Utah even though it had the full support of the church. I think a large part of this is because the backlash against the church after Prop. 8 worked very well at convincing Mormons that they hate gays. Many feel they are being attacked by gay people, and get defensive. Of course, both sides are attacking each other, and both sides are getting defensive.

    Now here’s my sense. The Church wouldn’t have supported the Salt Lake City nondiscrimination ordinances a decade ago, so why now? I think it’s because church leaders now look at this more from the perspective of the Church in a pluralist setting (if you read, for instance, church spokesman Otterson’s comment after the ordinances about them being “fair.”) The everyday Mormon, however, looks at from the perspective of their own family. Why support allowing gays to live together (nondiscrimination in housing) when they wouldn’t want their own potentially same-sex attracted children to live with a same-sex partner? The guy is rudely blaming gay people for enacting a “self-fulfilling prophecy” of Mormons hating gays, when in reality, the Mormon stance against “homosexual behavior” (whatever that is…) is what continues to fuel Mormon anti-gay stances. If anything, the Church’s support of the ordinances demonstrates a very certain hypocrisy.

    For example:

    The Mormon church has a much softer stance than most churches. [...] Opposition by the church is limited to the definition of marriage. [...] we are OK with people choosing to live and raise children in something other than the ideal. We have a strong belief that everyone has the freedom of choice.

    Um, no. Mormons are not OK with people choosing to live in something “other than the ideal” (i.e, same-sex unions). Such would be grounds for excommunication in the Church. You can’t both be both OK and not OK with something.

    Finally:

    To my knowledge, the LDS Church has done more to reach out to its gay members than any other church that teaches same-sex relationships are a sin. There really is no better place to be for someone like me who is attracted to the same sex, and yet is morally opposed to same-sex relationships. The gay community says you aren’t being true to yourself, while many conservatives attack you for simply having the attractions. The Mormon church is one of the few places that has room for me. Not to say there isn’t room for improvement. I feel the acceptance is rather forced with a heavy dose of suspicion, but I think it genuinely is acceptance, which the gay community does not offer.

    I think the guy is conflating the fight for same-sex marriage with a fight for “everyone who is same-sex attracted must enter a same-sex marriage” (a fight that doesn’t exist). Otherwise, how is the gay community against “freedom of choice” when Mormons are the ones limiting people’s choices to “opposite-sex marriage only?” There’s “freedom of choice” based on a plurality of beliefs (which is where arguments for gay marriage lie), and then there’s “freedom to choose within a limited number of options” based on a singular set of beliefs. Some gay people in the Facebook comments below the interview believe the guy is lying to himself (and they speak from experience of their own mixed-orientation marriages) so I can see why he might think some gays don’t allow for “freedom of choice,” but if that’s the extent of it, then this guy has a pretty biased view of the gay community as a whole.

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  2. 2
    Chino Blanco says:

    Thanks for that Mercury News link to their Faith series, Alan. I noticed that friend of the blog, Donna Banta, got quoted in a recent installment. And by the way, for some reason, I thought of you (and TT and Cassandra) when I noticed this Onion headline: Gay Gene Isolated, Ostracized ;-)

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  3. 3
    Lana says:

    Love this. I went inactive in 2003. In January 2011, my husband and I watched “8: The Mormon Proposition,” on Netflix streaming. We’d been kicking around the idea of officially leaving for a while, but we were concerned about my dad’s health (he’s already had a heart attack, and he’s in his 70′s), so we’d decided to hold off on that particular shock. After seeing “8,” though, we changed our minds. We just received our official ex-mo letters last week. Admittedly, I haven’t told my dad I’m now apostate instead of just inactive.

    When I posted the happy news on FB, an LDS friend from my home ward called me up in a panic. I thought she was upset about me leaving — nope. Turns out she’s questioning the church and freaking out b/c she feels her entire life is a lie. We’re talking a lot more lately. I’m hoping I’m some sort of comfort/ help to her.

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  4. 4
    Chino Blanco says:

    What is it with X-Mormons of the Year and Charlie Sheen? Last year’s winner just posted this: The Uses of Charlie Sheen, A Wittgensteinian Investigation.

    Which reminds me, we need to get Walter Kirn’s Permanent Morning listed in Outer Blogness. Walt apparently still thinks he’s a real ex-mo and I see no reason not to humor him: It’s Mormon in America, Part One in a Series That I Expect Will Get Rather Long

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  5. 5
    chanson says:

    Monica — Thanks for sharing your story!! I think that Proposition 8 and that talk by BKP were flash-points for a lot of people. And regarding your “battle continues”: I have to admit that I can’t really imagine what it would be like to leave the LDS church after having grown up in one of those 98% Mormon communities in the heart of Mormon-land.

    Alan —

    Why support allowing gays to live together (nondiscrimination in housing) when they wouldnt want their own potentially same-sex attracted children to live with a same-sex partner?

    Lots of people will stand up for others’ right to do things they wouldn’t want their own kids doing. Why is that surprising?

    The Church wouldnt have supported the Salt Lake City nondiscrimination ordinances a decade ago, so why now?

    If the CoJCoL-dS hadn’t poured so much money and time into legislating some kinds of discrimination against gay people (and hadn’t gotten so much well-deserved criticism for it), then they wouldn’t have had to clarify that there are some kinds of discrimination that they don’t favor.

    Chino — Thanks for the heads-up! I wasn’t aware of Kirn’s blog, but I’m happy to add it! :D

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  6. 6
    Alan says:

    Lots of people will stand up for others right to do things they wouldnt want their own kids doing. Why is that surprising?

    The guy was referring to why people won’t stand up for other people’s agency. Why, for example, the Utah state legislative refuses to consider nondiscrimination statewide, and actually actively dismisses it if it comes up. It’s certainly not because of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”: backlash after Prop 8 leading to Mormons thinking they hate gays. Rather, it’s because Mormons think that anything that has to do with “sexual orientation” is a slippery slope, whether that’s nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or a gay-straight alliance in a school. So, whereas Mormons support “agency” generally, one might say they don’t support “freedom of association.”

    I agree that the Church’s support of the SLC ordinances was more a policy clarification that would not likely have occurred if it weren’t for the Prop 8 backlash.

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  7. 7
    Chino Blanco says:

    Uh, yeah, it’s probably safe to say the LDS don’t support “freedom of association”:

    Mormon Church Fires Man For Having Gay Friends

    Drew Call, 32, a returned missionary who is gay, was a supervisor in the churchs printing department until March 7. At a February private meeting with his Salt Lake City stake president-who declined to be interviewed-Call says he was asked to abandon his gay friends as a condition for renewal of his temple recommend. Surprised and fearing people may not believe him, Call surreptitiously made an audio recording of the follow-up meeting in March so there could be no doubt what happened.

    The stake president goes on to say that the question applies to Calls gay friends because of the moral decay that is going in the world and thats part of it. the church opposes the relationship between a man and a man and a woman and a woman, and youre associating with those individuals. .. So what are you going to do? Call asked. Youre going to have to look for a job, the stake president replied.

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  8. 8
    Hellmut says:

    Your friend and you are lucky to have each other, Lana!

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