F-ing Cult

A few years ago, after I had my sudden epiphany about Mormonism, I was really angry. I felt like I had wasted 40 years of my life putting all my efforts and energy into something that wasn’t real. And I wanted to blame someone for it. I took to calling the LDS church a “fucking cult” fairly regularly, and I think I meant it. I was pissed off, and I wanted everyone to know it.

My wife taught me something important a while back, and that is that anger is almost always a substitute for a deeper underlying emotion. For me, it was sadness and hurt. I can’t describe how sad and hurt I felt to discover that the life I had devoted myself to was based on a lie, and a pretty big lie at that. I remember the day that we went to talk to my bishop about my lack of faith. I lay on my bed sobbing harder than I have ever sobbed, except for the day I learned my brothers were dead. I could not be consoled, and my wife didn’t even try. She knew that nothing she could say would help.

They say anger is a natural part of grieving, and maybe it was for me. But I’m glad it passed. I’m glad I can drive past a church without flipping it off (I’m embarrassed to admit I did that a few times driving past our stake center in Texas). I’m glad that I can be respectful towards things I do not believe. I’m glad I can appreciate the good that the church does in my family’s lives and in the lives of millions of people.

That’s not to say that I believe in the church. I don’t. And I have solid reasons not to believe. I think one of the other reasons I was angry was that I couldn’t really tell my family about what I was thinking and feeling. It always ended up in hurt feelings and sometimes anger. I’m again grateful that I no longer feel that need to convince anyone that I’m right (though I know I’m right, natch).

My goal is a live-and-let-live existence. My wife has told me before that she backed away from her public forms of worship because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I’d like to think I’m beyond that, and it pains me to know that she ever thought that of me.

I have a long way to go, but I’m getting better every day, at least I hope I am.

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7 Responses to F-ing Cult

  1. Ray Agostini says:

    I recall having similar feelings while sitting in the university library one day, about 1985. I broke down in tears. Yet through the years, I suppose I tried to justify what I formerly believed. There had to be some meaning in it all. Right?

    Even if I could look at it “liberally”. No go now. It’s rationalisation and self-justification for wasting so much time.

    But am I unhappy? No way! I live a very fulfilling life. And my “Mormon experience” helped me to appreciate the freedom I have so much more. And that’s the irony of Mormonism. It makes you appreciate that you DO have another life, and one worth living, if you will open your eyes to it. Once you escape the artificial, judgemental barriers of Mormonism, you will see a whole new and more realistic life. One in which you can love, be loved, and judge more righteous judgement. Without being told, step by step, how to do it.

    I love Mormonism, because it taught me what real freedom is. And it taught me what God isn’t.

  2. Haha! Your comment about flipping off the stake center made me laugh. I hate to admit that I also have done that a few times. I always feel really stupid and petty immediately after though.

  3. mac says:

    This really rang true to me. I’m still in the phase where I haven’t really talked it out with my family and I still go to church and pretend for my wife’s sake. So, I still have a few phases to move through, but it does resonate with me.

  4. beastie says:

    It has taken me longer to recover from my loss of faith than any other single event in my life – including my horrible marriage and divorce. Yes, I know believers detest the word “recovery” associated with leaving mormonism, but it is very true – it does require recovery, and it usually does entail stages of grief. In my case, mormonism was the lens through which I viewed and interpreted everything else in the world. It was how I also viewed and interpreted myself. I had struggled with doubt for so long, praying diligently for God to “save” my testimony with a witness, that when I actually realized I no longer believed, at that moment I felt nothing but joy and relief. The struggle was over. I no longer had to beat myself up spiritually and emotionally. I no longer had to try to find a way to believe the unbelievable. I no longer had to censor any possible new knowledge or information. Relief. Joy.

    But then the loss set in. Like you, I remember laying on my bed one day and just weeping. I still believed in God at that time, so my grief was mixed in with confusion and maybe some anger towards God for leading me down the “wrong” path. I felt so lost.

    I also remember feeling very angry. I remember reading a local newspaper article about the mormon missionaries years ago, and the missionaries were asked how they emotionally dealt with the constant rejection they must experience in this EV Bible belt. The missionary replied that he didn’t let it bother him, because he knew the people were not rejecting him, they were rejecting Jesus. Now I would laugh if I read something like that, and shake my head over the bad press that inadvertently created for the church (I bet that was the last time the mission prez let missionaries be interviewed), but at that point, when I still believed in God and Jesus, that comment caused a white hot flame of anger to erupt in me.

    But part of the problem with the anger is that I really didn’t know who to be angry at. I didn’t, and still don’t, know if JS was a fraud who acted only out of self interest, or if he was a fraud who believed he was furthering God’s purpose in some way. Can you really be angry at people for being religiously deluded? Like myself? And the current members and leaders, overall, probably genuinely believe this stuff. Sure, they may be annoying (and worse) at times, but can you be angry at them for being religiously deluded?

    How about yourself? I was a convert, I joined the church. Could I be angry at myself for being so vulnerable at that point in my life, so desperate for a “meaning” to my life, that I became religiously deluded?

    Sometimes I think that’s part of what took me so long to “recover”. I wanted to be angry, but at whom?

    • “I no longer had to try to find a way to believe the unbelievable.”

      Ah, you captured exactly the feelings I had when I had been heavily pressured by someone close to me at the time to accept the church teachings and join. I kept feeling in my heart…How can I force myself to believe something that I don’t believe? I had this awful, awful feeling associated with trying to make myself feel/think/believe something that just did not “click” deep down. I felt like I was given C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” and asked to believe that these were real, living, breathing people and not merely a beautiful allegory.

      At that time my only social outlet was with my Mormon friends so I was particularly vulnerable. Everyone else around me was saying Y and I was the only one, deep down, whose soul was crying out X, without validation. For example, the teachings about women’s roles really fell flat for me, but the social influence suggested I was wrong to feel that way and that I needed an attitude/thought adjustment to be more in line with the true gospel.

      Since that time, I suffered great spiritual confusion and don’t know how I’m ever supposed to know that ANYTHING is true and whether there is anyone/anything that is completely trustworthy. What evidence is enough? What feelings are enough?

  5. Bull says:

    beastie, I like your term religiously deluded. It is a ubiquitous condition and think led to Dawkin’s title “The God Delusion”.

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