Why did you want to go to BYU if you’re not a believer?
I started out at BYU as a believer. I loved the Mormon Church and didn’t plan on leaving it.
Can’t you just get an ecclesiastical endorsement from another religion if you’re not longer Mormon?
No, you can’t. Leaving the LDS Church is against the Honor Code. You are immediately suspended if you do so.
I’ve heard of Mormon turned atheists that were allowed to continue attending BYU. What makes you different?
I know some Mormon turned atheists here at BYU who’ve been able to be open about their non-belief without any problems from their church leaders. I know others who’ve had lots of problems with their church leaders. I fall in the latter category.
Remember, a church leader can take away a students’ endorsement FOR ANY REASON.
What about all the faithful Latter-day Saints who want to attend BYU? Shouldn’t they kick you out to make room for them?
I was one of those faithful Latter-day Saints. And then my beliefs changed. Maybe other faithful Latter-day Saints wanted to attend BYU, but the fact is, I WANTED to stay at BYU, too. I enjoyed my program and I enjoyed my work.
Non-Mormons can attend BYU. Why can’t ex-Mormons?
How can BYU benefit if they let BYU students who leave the LDS Church keep attending?
Well for one thing, they’d have less enemies from those who feel they have to hide at BYU, or who feel that they’ve been kicked against the curb by BYU.
For another thing, it could help the Mormon community by having Mormons create bridges in their youth with the ex-Mormon community, while at BYU. Mormons can become more open-minded, self-aware, and accepting of others if they could come in contact with those who believe differently than them while they’re young.
So BYU kicked you out of your housing?
My apartment was owned by an independent company that has a contract with BYU. They house non-BYU students, but if anybody breaks the honor code, they’re supposed to kick them out, or else they can’t house BYU students anymore, and they’d lose a lot of money. I got kicked out for leaving the LDS Church. Even after being evicted, they still expect me to pay my rent until somebody else buys my contract.
You mention that part of the portfolio talks about occult activity. How can you be into the Occult if you’re an atheist?
My relationship with the Occult (and with anything religious in general) is similar to my relationship with art, poetry, and theatre. I might get something out of performing Hamlet on stage or painting something. It might help me view my life from a new perspective or help me discover new things about myself. But I don’t believe anything magical is going on.
Just like I don’t believe anything magical is going on when I read Tarot, participate in a ritual, or pray in traditional form to Santa Muerte. I might not think anything supernatural is going on, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get anything out of it.
Some feel that me being interested in the Occult is a good reason to kick me out of my school, my housing, and my work. I happen to disagree. I also hope that a person will never get kicked out of their school, housing, and work for being a fan of Lovecraft either. Or for being atheist. Or for being pagan. Or baptist. Or Satanist. Because freedom is a beautiful thing.
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. -André Gide
To read Curtis Penfold’s Mormon resignation letter and story, click here.
For more info, check out an article about Curtis Penfold here.
To view the BYU Honor Code, click here.