Yes, I left because I was offended.

A few months after my husband and I moved from Arizona to North Dakota, but before we had officially resigned our membership, the Mormons tracked us down, as they are famous for doing. (FSM help any Mormons who need to enter the witness protection program.) I wasn’t home when they came calling, but my husband answered the door and the exchange went something like, “We’re just checking to see if there’s anything we can do for you.” “Nope, we’re just fine.” (Shut door.)

Soon after, we received a letter in the mail. The gist was: We stopped by your home but were not received. The bishop of your former ward informed us of your “situation” (I had been re-baptized after being excommunicated, but hadn’t had temple blessings restored), and we are eager to assist you on getting back to the path of eternal progression and returning to your Heavenly Father.

Enclosed was a copy of a conference talk by Elder David Bednar: “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.”

I read through Elder Bednar’s experiences visiting inactive members:

As we talked, eyes often were moist with tears as these good people recalled the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost and described their prior spiritual experiences. Most of the “less-active” people I have ever visited had a discernible and tender testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. However, they were not presently participating in Church activities and meetings.

And then I would say something like this. “Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.” Many times people would think for a moment and then respond: “I have never thought about it that way.”

My reaction was a stunned, “You think that’s why we left?!”
Continue reading “Yes, I left because I was offended.”

The Rise and Fall of a Testimony

The following is an essay I’ve written on my journey out of Mormonism (originally posted on my personal blog here). My journey to atheism is another story. Perhaps I will post it in the future.

Tell me about your testimony.

I was 24 years old when my bishop asked me this question and I thought back to the origins of my testimony.

My parents were and are as faithful Mormons as ever you’ll meet. They had raised me and my ten siblings in the Church. We went to church every week and read scriptures every day. When I was 14 years old, I decided that I wanted to know for myself that the Church was true instead of just believing. I decided to test the promise of the prophet Moroni, found in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon: And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10: 4-5).

I spent a weekend and shut myself up in my room and read all 531 pages of the Book of Mormon. I fasted during this time, interrupting my reading only to attend church Sunday morning. I finished the book late Sunday night and knelt beside my bed, giddy with anticipation for the testimony I was sure God would give me. Father in Heaven, I prayed, Is the Book of Mormon true?

I waited. Nothing happened.

I looked at the verses again, scouring the instructions like a recipe; perhaps Id forgotten an ingredient.Hmm, well, it says to ask if these things are nottrue. So I asked again, Is the Book or Mormon not true? Silence.

Again and again, I reread those verses and prayed, asking myself,Do I not have enough real intent? Enough faith in Christ? Is my heart not sincere enough? But no matter how I tried, I couldnt make any kind of revelation come.

I walked through the dark house to break my fast and wept alone in the kitchen, eating a peach.

When the Churchs semi-annual General Conference convened a few weeks later, apostle Robert D. Hales related the story of how David O. McKay, the ninth president of the church, as a boy had wanted to know for himself regarding the truthfulness of the Gospel, and decided to pray about the matter: Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of a Testimony”