The right way

Given the discussion my readers have been having about how it’s wrong for exmormons to be angry or feel hurt or whatever and that they should just walk away and shut up, I thought I’d share my thoughts on what the right way to behave is for someone who leaves the Mormon church.

Is it wrong to be angry or hurt? Absolutely not. Many of us gave everything to the LDS church, our deepest commitment, our faith, our lives. It would be absurd not to feel some hurt or anger when you find out the reality behind the church you gave so much to. It’s OK and probably quite healthy to go through a period of being angry. I know I did, and most exmormons I know went through that stage. On a very simple level, you can see losing your faith as a major loss worthy of grief, and most people understand that anger is part of the grieving process. But as I said, the sense of loss is compounded by the sense of betrayal. It’s as if you found out that your father, whom you love deeply, had been stealing from you all your life.

But the anger plays right into Mormon stereotypes about “bitter apostates.” If we show even the slightest resentment toward the church, we can be dismissed as having been duped by Satan into joining the Ed Deckers of the world with their wild-eyed rants against Mormonism. I’m not ashamed that I was angry. I had a right to be angry because the belief system I based my life around was based on a lie.

So what distinguishes the “good” exmormons from the “bad”? I’d say it’s honesty and respect. I do know of some exmormons so consumed by bitterness that they exaggerate, lie, and distort the teachings of the church to score points. Fortunately, I don’t know any of these people personally, and they seem to be in the distinct minority (Ed Decker is a good example). Almost all the exmormons I know have a very strong sense of honesty and integrity, and it was that commitment to truth that made it impossible for them to stay in the church. They simply could not uphold a lie. Granted, some of the exmormons I know are still angry at a manipulative and abusive institution, but their anger is very rarely focused on people in the Mormon church.

Mormonism deserves to be discussed on its own merits. In my judgment, it fails at every turn in its claims, from the utterly indefensible Book of Abraham, to Joseph Smith’s miraculous transformation from glass-looking grifter to glass-looking scripture translator, to the church’s institutionalized racism, sexism, and homophobia. Does that blunt assessment sound angry? Maybe to a believing Mormon it might, but I’m not angry. And I certainly don’t need to lie to discuss why Mormonism is not what it claims to be.

I expect honesty and integrity in discussing Mormonism, both from Mormons, exmormons, and nonmormons. Other than that, I don’t care how angry someone is. I don’t go out of my way to attack the LDS church, and most of my exmormon friends don’t either. But we’re not going to shut up about the central facts of our lives because someone thinks it’s unseemly to talk about the church.

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6 Responses to The right way

  1. Ray Agostini says:

    Runtu, you are a good and honest human being. I appreciated this post. In particular this comment:

    I expect honesty and integrity in discussing Mormonism, both from Mormons, exmormons, and nonmormons. Other than that, I don’t care how angry someone is. I don’t go out of my way to attack the LDS church, and most of my exmormon friends don’t either. But we’re not going to shut up about the central facts of our lives because someone thinks it’s unseemly to talk about the church.

    Speak out, my friend, and spill your heart, feelings and ideas to the world. I never realised how much I underestimated you in the past, at times. My respect for you soars quite high.

  2. K*tty says:

    AMEN!

  3. Soy Yo says:

    I recently passed the anger stage in my journey out and am glad for that. It was not a fun stage to be in and it consumed too much of my life. I blog about the parts of Mormonism I don’t agree with but I do not force anyone to read it. Like Runtu said, it is truth we seek. One thing I cannot stand is an ignorant Mormon. When I hear clearly uneducated comments from them it makes me cringe and I can rarely hold my tongue. I was once in their shoes so I understand why they do not know better. Every member should be equipped with all of the information so they can make an educated decision to believe or leave. Most ex-Mormons don’t have a problem with the everyday members. I have a problem with the leaders who continue to cover-up or distort the true history and origin of the church. Truth is needed on all sides of the issue. From what I have seen, the majority of ex-Mormons strive to provide accurate information and we push the church to do the same.

  4. beastie says:

    One of the most frustrating experiences for me in discussing mormonism with believers on the internet (I normally do not talk about it at all in real life) is that they frequently tell me I’m “angry” and “bitter”. The vast majority of times I’m not feeling any anger or bitterness at all. The believers “hear” anger and bitterness simply because I’m speaking the truth, as I see it, about LDS truth claims. Perhaps because believers tend to become so emotionally enmeshed with the church, criticism feels very personal to them, and hence, comes across as an angry attack.

  5. runtu says:

    Hi, beastie, it’s good to see you. You’re quite right. A dispassionate discussion of the facts, when they contradict the sanitized history, is often taken as an angry attack, especially when the believer isn’t aware of the facts.

  6. sideon says:

    I’ll stick with Mae West, who said it best…

    “When I’m good I’m good, but when I’m bad I’m better.”

    Oh, I’m not an angry Exmo. I’m decidedly bored with most of Moism. The recent gift of my own pair of garments did nothing for me – I wasn’t even tempted to try them on. I will say, for sensitive readers, that I folded them nicely and put them in the closet where I don’t have to look at them.

    It’s the midnight hour – I should be sleeping.

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