Ask the ex-Mormon!

Hey there…I’m not sure whether this thread will sink like a stone or live for six weeks, but I figured I’d put it up there.

Whenever the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints comes up in discussion on the boards, it seems there are a few usual suspects supplying much of the information. Monty and TokyoPlayer come to mind. Each of them has a lot of knowledge on the subject, as well as a very specific POV. Mine is a little different from theirs.

I was a pretty much lifelong member of the Mormon church, and only stopped attending in 2005. Before then, I hit all the expected milestones for a Mormon male: I attended church-run Brigham Young University. I served a two year full-time mission. I was married in a Mormon temple.

I’m completely open to any questions any of you might have, whether it be on the Church in general, my specific experience with it, or whatever. In the absence of pertinent questions, impertinent wisecracks are welcome as well. :cool:

The obvious question: Why did you decide to leave the church?

Why are you an ex-Mormon? Is there something that made you decide to leave, or did you gradually lose your belief? Are there particularly "Mormon beliefs that you still cling to?
Where did you do your Mission, and what language did you have to learn? Can you still speak it?

Do you have to pay Alimony to the other 7 now-ex-wives? :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

The short answer is that I didn’t believe most of what was being taught. I didn’t “convert” to any other religion; I just sort of admitted to myself, after struggling with it for most of my life, that I don’t believe in God. Or, at the very least, I don’t believe in the god presented to me by the religions I’ve known.

I got divorced last year, and with the end of the marriage, a lot of the momentum and impetus to keep “playing along” left.

My office is right down the street from the local Mormon temple, and one question I love asking them is:

Why do women and black people join a group that doesn’t think they are good enough to run things?

What does your family think about you leaving the religion? What do you miss the most/least?

From the time I was 8 or 9 years old, there were things I was expected to believe that rubbed me the wrong way intellectually. I suppressed it for years and years, hoping that one day it would be easier to compartmentalize that stuff. Unfortunately, my brain just doesn’t work that way.

I served in Ecuador, which means I spoke Spanish. My Spanish was fairly good before I left, and I came back fully bilingual; not only do I speak Spanish, I read books and watch TV in Spanish, and occasionally dream in the language. I still use it every day.

As far as the “women” part, I have no idea, but you could ask the same thing of many much larger and older religions. Catholicism comes to mind.

The black question is more interesting. I knew black men in the Mormon Church who joined back in the 70s, even before black members could hold the priesthood. It’s difficult for me to fathom how they could join a religion that relegated them to the station of second-class members. At the time, I respected them enormously. I can only guess that they had some kind of spiritual, emotional conversion that made them willing to wait for the day.

There are Mormons in my wife’s otherwide Roman Catholic family – wonderful people who are a lot of fun to be around, and we are very close to them. Their kids have always been nearly perfect without being “Stepford Kids.” But recently their son has thrown over the traces, and not in a very subtle way. His dad – my wife’s brother and a man I have always loved and admired – is pretty upset about it, and has hinted on several occasions that this seems to be a growing phenomenon among Mormons.

My question for One Cent Stamp is: Do you have a sense that this is more of a problem in the Mormon church now than it was before? Does anyone have any indication that it’s a bigger problem for the Mormons than for any other group?

My mom doesn’t really care; she left the Mormon Church to go back to the Buddhism of her upbringing a few years ago. Several of my siblings are “concerned” about the path my life is taking, but so far there haven’t been any crazy intervention attempts or anything. Since I’m the oldest, I doubt there will be.

The thing I miss the most is the camaraderie. The Mormon Church is great at making people feel like they belong. I don’t say that in any snide or bitter sense; I think it’s great. The Mormons are all about picnics, potlucks, dances, talent shows…they definitely pull you in, socially.

I missed the social setting and support enough that I’ve taken steps to fill the void left in its wake.

The things I miss the least? One: trivial details of my everyday life being micromanaged. I understand it when a church expects conformity on things like killing and stealing. It was the hairstyles and underwear and beer drinking that I didn’t really appreciate the church having their say in.

Two: having to believe nonsensical things in order to be a faithful member. Things like American Indians being descended from the Jews. Things like Joseph Smith finding papyri - written by Abraham himself - in a mummy coffin. I always had trouble forcing myself not to analyze and reject that shit.

Are you kidding? They pay me alimony. Any true polygamist sits on his ass all day and farms his wives out to the nearby towns to work for $9/hour and bring home the money. Since I didn’t earn any money while we were married, I’m the one who’s owed. :cool:

This is sad, but unfortunately true of many polygamist families I’ve known. :frowning:

I have asked Catholics this question, but I get no real answer. The Mormon ladies tell me “it’s not discrimination,” which is bull. You might think it’s all right to discriminate, but don’t say it isn’t.

Now: What’s the deal with the Mormon undies?

They’re called the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, or simply “garments.” In their current incarnation, they are:

[li]white[/li][li]cotton, polyester or a blend of the two[/li][li]one-piece or two-piece underwear that reaches the wearer’s knee[/li][li]adorned with four symbols stitched into them with white thread[/li][/ul]

The four symbols, called “marks,” are on each breast, one on the navel, and one on the right knee. At least two of them would look and sound familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the Masons.

They’re meant to serve as an everpresent reminder of the covenants Mormons swear to in the temple as part of the Endowment ceremony. They aren’t meant to be magical; just cloth, and treated with more or less the same reverence as a flag. However, in typically Mormon fashion (Mormons LOVE urban legends), there are plenty of anecdotes floating around of people who were in horrible fires or car accidents and received no injuries on the parts of their bodies covered by the garment.

Wikipedia has a more detailed explanation of the marks:

Is this accurate?

Yes, that’s exactly accurate. Those quotes are from David O. McKay, who was President of the Church back in the 50s. His words are close to verbatim from the not-as-secret-as-some-would-have-you-believe actual temple ceremony.

I’ve heard of garments before, and the restriction on alchohol but what do you mean by hairstyles? Are there official LDS hairstyles?

That was actually a reference to my stint at LDS-run Brigham Young University. Men’s hair had to be above the ear and above the collar. No earrings for men. No piercings except for earrings on women. No beards on men - not even a day’s worth of stubble.

I remember the Real World where BYU-er Julie is kicked out of the university because of her co-ed decision.

What was it like attending Brigham Young? Did you enjoy it? Were there any parties? Any non-Mormons?

For the most part, BYU was pretty enjoyable. I made friends there who have become friends for life (I’m about to turn 33), and have remained so despite my decision to leave the Church. There were parties, and lots and lots of dances, just without alcohol, smoking or drugs. Whether that still qualifies as a party is a decision best left to the individual. :slight_smile:

The education was top-notch, and pretty much uncolored by fundamentalism. BYU is no Bob Jones University; nobody shied away from teaching evolution in by biology classes, for example, and I never felt as though the reading lists for my English classes were vetted or censored from above.

There were quite a few non-Mormons. A WAG would be that 1,000 of the 35,000 undergrads were not Mormon. They usually fell into one of a few categories:

  • Scholarship athletes. The football and basketball teams, in particular, have quite a few non-Mormons.
  • Exchange students. Lots of European and (especially) Asian exchange students come to BYU.
  • People interested in one of BYU’s specialties. BYU has a renowned Near Eastern Studies and Ancient Scripture department, for example.