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Leaving a religion is hard

Believe it or not, I'm actually going to apologize.  (As I've done recently, I'm going to lump my blog posts and my Facebook wall posts together, just using the word "post" to mean either one.)  I have made many posts recently that have, understandably, been interpreted as anti-Mormon.  Of course, I've been aware of this--in fact, in nearly every case I was aware of the fact prior to making the post.  So, I sincerely apologize for the feelings that have been hurt because of this.  I also wish to make an explanation for this action.

As I stated in this post, I do not regret having said the things I have said because I was doing so out of authenticity, which is something I strive for every day.  I regret all of the occasions when I have been confrontational.  I don't like confrontation at all.  In fact, the electronic world is the only place where I actually have the courage to be confrontational at all.  In person, I am very quick to let someone walk right over me, in the interest of maintaining harmony.  I am defenseless against phone solicitors.

Anyway, there have been three major reasons why I have made the posts I have made recently about the LDS church.  The first and most important reason is that I want to share my feelings with everyone.  I want to express what it feels like to have your world come crashing down on you when you realize that the religion you have been brought up in and taught your entire life is actually not true.  (Now, here I'll interject that you don't have to agree with me that the LDS church is false, just keep in mind that I do feel that way, and I'm entitled to that belief just as much as you're entitled to the belief that it's true.)  I want desperately for someone to understand me and to express sympathy or empathy for me.  I want to feel validated--that I am allowed to have my own opinions, even if those opinions are vastly different from what yours are, and also vastly different from what I believed just a year ago.

The second reason is that I have been trained all my life, being raised LDS, to be a truth crusader--to value the importance of seeking, defending, and proclaiming the truth wherever it is to be found.  So, when I find something that I think is true (eg, Joseph Smith marrying women who already had husbands), I feel a need to share it with other people, in the name of truth.  I strongly believe the teaching that the truth will make you free.  Knowledge is power.  I believe that the more educated a person is, the more capable they are of making wise and beneficial choices in their own life, and the better equipped they are for helping others as well.  So, I wish to share all of the recent research I have done into the history of Mormonism and its doctrine because I feel there is benefit in knowing truth.

The third reason is that I honestly believe that the church is a threat and I wish to save my loved ones from that threat.  Don't get me wrong--I couldn't possibly make the sweeping generalization that it is all evil.  No, the church does much good and helps people be good too.  But, I do believe that the church has made and does make people do things that are bad.  For example, in the past the church taught and promoted racism.  Currently, the church teaches and promotes homophobia.  I believe this to be harmful.  I also believe that the church takes advantage of people by spending their tithing money on for-profit ventures, such as the City Creek Mall in SLC.  I believe this is taking advantage of people and deceiving them.  I love my friends and my family and don't want to see them being taken advantage of like this.  Also, I resent the church using its membership to fight political battles, such as the current one over same-sex marriage, which is nothing more than oppression of people who are different and have different beliefs.

Now that I have explained the motives that I have had for making all of my posts, I wish to give my apology.  I have too often strayed from these three goals that I have had.  I have become argumentative and confrontational.  I have made personal attacks, leaving the sphere of objectivism.  I have stepped over the line of "this is how I feel" into "this is why you are wrong".  I should not have done this.  This is inappropriate behavior.  All of you are entitled to have your own opinions, including the opinion that the LDS church is true, and I have tried to coerce people into forgoing the right to hold that opinion, thinking that my own logic was superior.  Certainly, you may believe as you wish and your beliefs are no threat to my own, nor to me personally.

I will continue to post things about the church, because it is such a large part of me.  If you find this wholly unacceptable, I am truly sorry.  Perhaps your only recourse will be to do what many of my friends and family have done, which is to hide my Facebook posts, unfriend me, or block me altogether.  Know that I hold no grudge toward any who have done this, nor toward any who will in the future.  I'd much rather be friends with you in person than on Facebook.  That having been said, I will make a concerted effort to keep to the first of the three main goals I listed above.  People can argue truth--especially that regarding religion--all day long til they're blue in the face, and therefore I see little value in goal #2.  Also, since the majority of my friends and family are LDS who believe that the church is not a threat to them, but a bulwark--a source of strength and happiness--I see little value in goal #3, which is effectively to convince them that they are not happy when they feel that they are.  While I still believe these two forms of motivation to be worthwhile, I believe that taking a more passive and personal approach with them will be wiser.

Goal #1, of course, is a very personal goal, since it is merely the desire to express my own feelings.  Since this will be my primary reason for posting, I will do my best to word things more in the first person and in the phraseology of opinion or belief rather than fact.  (eg, "I get really frustrated when I see so many of my family members fighting against my right to marry due to their religious convictions.")

Because I have been so vocal throughout this year about homosexuality and about the church, many people have chosen to distance themselves from me.  Whatever their reason or motivation, I cannot blame them for what they have done.  I do feel abandoned when this happens, I must admit that if I am to be honest.  However, I feel that the number of cases where their intent was to make me feel that way is very small if any at all.

I believe one major cause of consternation and frustration is on a differing view of what the nature of Facebook is.  I view my wall as my own personal space, where I am allowed to share anything that comes to my mind.  If people want to participate in my brainstorming, they are welcome to do so by commenting and posting on my wall.  I treat other people's walls the same way.  So, if they post something that I disagree with, I try to do so politely or just not comment at all, acknowledging their right to believe as they wish but feeling no need to contradict them.  Also, I tend to be supportive of people even if I cannot personally agree with their motives or reasoning.  (For example, I congratulate people on mission calls, even though I feel like increasing church membership is a bad thing.)  So, I believe that a wall belongs completely to the person whose account it is attached to and it is theirs to do as they wish (ie, it is private).  Other people may feel like a wall is not private but that it is in fact public.  I can understand this reasoning, which is (as best I can surmise) as follows.  When a post is made on someone's wall, that post is fed through to the newsfeed of everyone on that person's friends list (or whatever subset of that list they choose to share the post with).  Therefore, since it is available for all to read, it is a public post and therefore is treated more like public property than private property.

How is this an issue?  When I make a post on my wall, it is something that I personally feel or want to share with people.  It is not necessarily something that I would say in a public setting or something that I feel automatically becomes public property.  So, I post things about my personal findings in the research I have been doing in Mormon history, for example, because it's part of my personal life at the moment.  Other people may see that (in their newsfeed) and interpret it as a public thing.  Therefore, it become a violation of their right to believe as they choose.  I am challenging their beliefs, so they feel hurt, angry, or a need to prove me wrong or contend the point that I am trying to make.  I wish I could say that I have never posted anything with the intent of causing contention, but that would be a lie.  Unfortunately, there have been times when this has been my intent, and I am truly sorry for that.  I do wish to keep my posts in the category I described above.

The final point I want to share is that I'm just trying to figure everything out.  All of this posting I've been doing is part of my journey into learning who I am, what I believe, and where I want to go from here.  I've been trying to figure out where the line is between sharing my thoughts and opinions and stepping on the toes of those who have differing views.  When should I post something and when should I refrain?  Sometimes I lean more heavily toward one side and other times toward the other.  I know that one reason why this always weighs heavily in my mind is because I truly care about people, very deeply.  I care about my friends and my family.  I care about practically everyone I meet.  I have never in my life been able to be truly apathetic toward someone.  I want what is best for everyone, and that is what I try to do.  At times I become selfish, only thinking of my own feelings, but it breaks my heart when I realize that.  I don't mean to sound noble, only to show what is in my heart.  The purpose of all of this is to achieve authenticity--to be truly me.

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