Having grown up in the Caribbean I remember hearing the wonderful stories about the temple. I was excited when I went to the temple for the first time to “take out my endowments.” This is where it all started.
As I attended the temple over the following years, more things began to stand out for me.
Over the years I developed a coping mechanism for dealing with the questions I had about the temple. One lingering question I had, begged to know where the ceremony originated. I also felt that no one had prepared me for the experience and wondered why. So I came out of the temple that first day with a million questions swirling around in my head. Like a good Mormon should, I smiled, and said ‘yes it was a wonderful experience” to anyone who asked, but on the ride home I was pretty quiet.
I did everything I was supposed to do as a faithful member of the church. Living the Mormon gospel was quite easy for me. The adjustment to married life was an easy transition. We were married in the Cardston, AB temple in 1994 and by the time I graduated from Ricks college I was several months pregnant.
On October 13 2006 I boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City for my Sister in Laws’ wedding to be held in the Salt Lake temple later that day. On that trip to Utah we visited with family and friends, toured the beehive house and saw the recent Joseph Smith movie produced by the Church. That movie marked the beginning of a journey that led me to some very important discoveries.
We were all very excited to see the recently produced Joseph Smith movie. I sat in that movie theatre and watched this very glorified depiction of Joseph Smiths’ life while family and other viewers sniffled at the tear jerking scenes. I watched Joseph Smith being depicted as a model citizen teaching a young man how to treat his wife. It was all so perfect, too perfect. White washed propaganda is what came to mind as I sat there wanting, waiting, wondering if they would show the other wives that I was aware he had. I realized right then and there that if I were one of these visitors to Salt Lake City and this is the version of the Joseph Smith story I was given, it would be missing a whole lot. And then the thought came to mind, what else have they to hide? What else do I not know? What else are they not telling me? When the movie was finished I did not join in on any of the conversations about how great and touching the movie was. Under my breath I said to my husband, ‘what about the other wives?’ to which he quickly shushed me. Right then I knew there was probably more to the story and had to ask myself, “If polygamy was an eternal principle why are we ashamed of it?” I couldn’t help but feel like the message of the restoration was first presented to my family in a similar fashion as this movies depiction of Joseph Smith.
Disingenuous, dishonest, crafty were all adjectives I could think of to express my opinion of the movie. The honest part of me would not allow loyalty to override my circuits. I had to find answers. I flew home to Canada and immediately started researching the one thing that bothered me the most about Mormonism. The temple. What I was finding out bothered me immensely but I didn’t feel like I could talk to my husband about it. Boy was my husband scared when he checked the history on the computer. It was as if he’d seen a ghost when he came to our room that evening when we finally talked about it. By this time I knew about the blood oaths and other things that had been changed from the original ceremony. I knew quite a bit about Joseph’s involvement in masonry and polygamy and along with being almost physically sick about the whole thing I was angry. A bull in a shop filled with red china wouldn’t be an understatement as I confronted my husband with what I knew. His first response was to call it all lies being spouted by ‘anti-Mormons’. He wanted me to promise not to read any more. To this request I took exception as I do not believe in censorship and I let him know how wrong it was for him to even suggest it. I wanted for us to determine what were lies and what was not. I pointed out all the disturbing facts without any opinions attached and let him know that I wasn’t interested in an interpretation of the facts. The facts stood for themselves and the facts were disturbing according to my own frame of reference.
When I told my husband about Ethan Smith, who had written a book (a few years before the Book of Mormon ) that contained ideas and themes found in the Book of Mormon, his reply was that “Satan inspired Ethan to write ‘View of The Hebrews’ so it would be a stumbling block to belief in the Book of Mormon” I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I felt like I’d just been thrown into a brick wall by one of the bad guys from the Matrix. It was then that I realized the enormity of the problem. My husband would go to any lengths and say just about anything no matter how unintelligent to protect his religion. We argued, we fought and drove each other through the roof at times. He listed off a few people from the stake presidency that I should talk to but I knew they would tell me that I needed to pray, fast, read my scriptures and have more faith. I had been doing those things for years without getting any answers to my one most constant prayer to “KNOW’.
I also examined the word “know” as used by Mormons especially in their testimonies. The blatant misuse of that word in the religion is overly presumptuous to say the least.
After my discoveries it was very difficult to attend church. At the time I was the second counselor in the Young Womens Presidency and had to teach one lesson per month. I immediately asked to be released from my calling as I couldn’t teach anymore.
The bishop asked if I wanted to talk. There was agony written all over my face and I was near the point of explosion. I went to his office and gave him a tearful earful. I let the bishop know that this man Joseph Smith whom I thought was a prophet had broken every single commandment in the book and it was being covered up by the church. I let him know that I expected more from a religious organization professing to be God’s one true church. I was so sure and so firm in my ‘untestimony’ of the church that at the end he didn’t have much to say. The only question he asked at the end which struck me as odd was if I was opposed to having my husband pay tithing to which I said I wasn’t. My husband was called in towards the end and we cried and cried. I wanted him to see what I saw, I wanted him to be free of the shackles the religion had him chained with. I wanted him to see that I had done nothing wrong in coming to the conclusions I had, I wanted him to see the source of the problem and point the fingers away from me and towards the church. I wanted him to see that none of this was intended to hurt him. “It’s not my fault that the church isn’t true”, I would say to him whenever I was told “you’re the one who left.” I wanted him to understand my pain, be by my side, stand by me, choose me. That was the last time I went to church.
The car analogy was used on me many times as it made sense to most Mormons until they heard my house analogy. The car analogy states that if you wanted to know more about ford cars you’d go to a Ford dealership and not the Toyota dealership. The house analogy says that as the purchaser of a house or a car, it wouldn’t be wise to ask the sellers of the house/car to do a home/car inspection. I’d get a third party to do so. With Mormonism, I had bought a house and taken the sellers inspection report and ran with it. Not very prudent in my opinion. I felt like I had been lied to all along. Why would I now trust the source of those lies by reading more of their propaganda? There was a reason I wasn’t given full disclosure in the first place. The desired outcome of my family’s baptism would not have occurred should we have been given full disclosure before making a decision to sign the ‘Mormon contract’. In my estimation my ‘contract’ with Mormonism was null and void, because of breach of trust, and uninformed consent.
The notion that we should read only church-sanctioned -faith -promoting history and gain perspective from doing so is an insult to true democracy and the freedoms it affords. It is a mind control, disarmament tool used to suppress freedom of thought and keep people dependant on outside authority figures to make decisions for their lives. This was the twenty first century and I lived in the western world, such an expectation was a slap in the face of progress, change and growth.
I was happy and content with my decision that the church was false; however the fact that my children still attended caused me great distress. I couldn’t come to grips with the possibility that one day I may not be able to see my children get married should they choose their father’s religion. I knew that they would be adults but the choice would have been made for them by their Mormon conditioning. They would not think twice about having a temple marriage even though their mother would not be able to attend, and would be devastated at being left out of that very important moment in her children’s lives. My sister was the only member of my family able to afford to fly the thousands of miles spanning the Caribbean all the way to Alberta to be at my wedding. She had by that time married into another religion and was not a practicing Mormon. She was not able to see me married and I didn’t even think twice about it. I cry now when I think back to that day when I was so blinded by my religious persuasions that it didn’t even cross my mind to include the only member of my family present and have her witness her younger sister get married. This was so wrong. It still is today. I wanted my husband to see this. I wanted him to see how this rips families apart.
From my perspective, it was healthy and necessary for my kids to be exposed to other religious views so that they could dispel the myths contained in Mormonism regarding people of other faiths. More importantly they needed options so that they would know there are other choices available to them when they got older. I wanted them to have a realistic picture of the world outside Mormonism. They needed to see that drinking a cup of coffee or having a glass of wine were not indicators by which you judge character. I wanted them to think for themselves.
A turning point in my relationship came when I realized that if given the choice between me and his religion, I would be the one to go. He couldn’t be happy without the gospel. That is what he’d been taught all his life. He and his religion are one. There had never been an “individual identity” to my husband; it was all intertwined with the church, which is why he took my attacks on the church so personal. He didn’t know how to separate his identity from the church, he was incapable of it. The man I had married, loved and given all of myself to for so many years belonged to the Church, not to me, not to himself. All that he was, and all that he had, would be given to his church. I was being sacrificed whether I liked it or not.
My husband and I had become emotionally detached through all of this and lived in constant friction. There was no real depth to our interaction with each other. We had a huge pink elephant living in our home that we tried our best to ignore. We talked about a divorce several times but decided to try harder each time. Trying harder meant keeping the problem around but pretending it wasn’t there. I’m not very good at pretending. During a very gruelling school year, as I buried myself in my studies we grew further and further apart with each passing day. After a while there was not a day that went by that I didn’t think about moving on with my life, so that I could live true to me and be my happy, fun self. It was so unfair for two good people like us to live this kind of existence we found ourselves in. We both deserved to be happy but couldn’t be happy together. It was a sham of a marriage and terrible modelling for the children. I let him know several times during that year that we needed to separate, each time he’d ask for more time, a few more months here a few more months there, after you’re done school, etc. etc. We were a casualty of Mormonism. It had torn our family apart.
My name is Michelle and I’m an Ex Mormon.