I’ve been thinking lately how we ex-Mormons are often lumped together as a rather nasty, bitter sort of people full of hate. Tne “Recovery from Mormonism” board is routinely described on Mormon boards as being a “cesspool” of hate, mental illness, and irrationality. I’m sure these descriptions annoy you as much as they do me, as the descriptions, to me, signal more a need for certain people to marginalize and discredit us as evil apostates.
That said, I understand the hurt, the anger, and even the bitterness many of us feel, and I think getting it out of our systems is a good thing. Eventually, it passes, and most of us can move on with some degree of peace. I know that, for the most part, I am more at peace with myself than I ever was before.
But sometimes I think we’re guilty of doing the same thing in reverse to Mormons. Certainly there are aspects of the religion and its teachings that many of us find destructive and abhorrent, and rightly so. I’m sure we all understand just what the church can do to your psyche. But sometimes in casting off those undesirable aspects, we lump individual Mormons in with the general behavior, even if it’s not deserved.
I try to put myself in the position of members when I talk to them. How would I have responded, knowing what I was taught in the church? I probably would have assumed, as many do, that apostasy comes from sin or offense or lazinss, or whatever. Not because I myself am the kind of judgmental jerk who would jump to that conclusion, but because the church taught me that is why people leave. I would have had a disconnect between the person I know, and the alleged reasons for leaving.
In short, I’m saying that I need to be better about cutting church members a break. Yes, some people are nasty and vicious, but I’m not talking about them. Rotten people are in and out of the church. But I am trying to see the difference between intentionally cruel behavior and the conditioned reactions that people have toward us. It isn’t their fault, really, that they absorbed some toxic teachings. Look at that priesthood lesson in this year’s manual about how awful we apostates are. How could someone be taught that all their lives and not absorb it?
Anyway, I’m not excusing bad behavior, but trying to figure out how best to respond when people perhaps unwittingly fall victim to stereotyping of us evil apostates.