A Crisis of Faith - redefined

I've been skimming a lot of online writings and blog posts addressing the many reasons individuals leave the Mormon church. 
As I read different accounts there seems to be this notion that 'insiders' identify 'outsiders' as people who have experienced a 'crisis of faith'. The idea started gnawing at me and bothering me just a bit. I've never imagined my leaving the Mormon church as a crisis of any sort. What many say is a crisis of faith to me was a truly enlightening experience. I didn't lose anything; I gained a broader knowledge, a broader perspective and a much more complete, fulfilling and happy existence. Leaving the church possibly saved my life.

I have posted previously about my personal journey; the outline of my trek through inner darkness and a personal hell resulting in my coming out into a glorious world of love and respect for myself and others. If when you speak of a 'crisis of faith' you mean a difficult experience followed by a greater empathy and understanding of life then, I suppose, I did have a crisis of faith. However, if you are thinking that a 'crisis of faith' is a weakness or a failure and the result is a lost sole, then no, I did not suffer a 'crisis of faith'.

The Mormon Church is simply a religion, like many other religions; it is an evangelical entity that believes there is an eternal reward for unquestioning faith. Once you start looking at the stories and the teachings of the church it quickly unravels. My exodus from the Mormon church took place before the internet. (BG-Before the Googles.) The research and study I participated in was scripture, books, discussions and symposiums. Even BG it was easy to dispel the myths and see the inconsistencies and conflicts with reality.

My own experience was one of six or seven years of picking and choosing the tenants of the gospel I could believe in and leaving others alone. I looked at every question I had and determined if it was Mormon doctrine or if it was Mormon folklore. If it was the latter I dismissed it, if it was the former I studied it out and determined if it was something I could stand behind or if I needed to turn the page and get past it. Over time there was a lot of page turning and before I realized it there was very little left for me to stand behind. 

Was there fear? Was there anger? Was there confusion? Yes to all three. I had spent a lifetime affiliated with a religion quite the opposite of my nature. I had dedicated my time, my talent and my treasure to what? To an entity that I now feel is broken and, at least for me, a place of confusion and unhappiness. I had spent nearly two years of my life proselyting full-time telling others of the truth of the church. My tithing helped fund the fight against women's rights and gay rights. I know... what was I thinking?!?

*The final straw for me was hearing a talk by Boyd K Packer in general conference stating that the three greatest enemies of the church are gays, feminists and so called intellectuals. Three strikes I'm out; okay 2 1/2 strikes, because I don't count myself an 'intellectual'. I was only guilty by association with the intellectual rebel rousers. 

That was the last general conference I attended and, not long afterwards, I shed my temple garments and stopped all activity in the church. Since the timing of leaving the church was close to the timing of coming out as a lesbian and asking my husband for a divorce it seemed a good time to leave the church as well. Why not; I might as well get it all taken care of in one big nervous breakdown rather than three smaller ones.

I believe, in my own situation, that the 'crisis' would have been staying in the church. My partner, Suzie, always says that she doesn't understand why anyone would stay in a bad relationship. Her method of determining if a relationship is worth staying in is to ask herself this question: Is your life better, or potentially better, with this person in your life? 

Let's take a few paragraphs and extend this question to my relationship with the church. Of course the answer to a question like this isn't yes or no/black or white there is a list of pros and cons. For a long time the list of pros was longer than the list of cons and I was happy with the relationship. It brought me peace, friendship and purpose. 

In the early stages of our relationship I felt loved and protected. Of course there were conditions to that love; as long as I did as I was told then I felt the love and protection. It was easy, for a long time, to be what Mr. Church wanted me to be. 

Early in our relationship the stories told by Mr. Church were inspiring and faith promoting. I believed so strongly in what he said; I never thought to question. As is true of a lot of relationships one partner grows and learns and develops while the other partner doesn't change at all. Well I grew and Mr. Church refused to change.

As I grew and practiced the principals of unconditional love and compassion taught to me by Mr. Church I started to realize he was all talk and no action. I then started looking at all of the stories and teachings he had given me throughout our relationship and realized that many of them were inaccurate, shameful and some were outright outlandish. 

I didn't give up on the relationship right away. I needed to try and make it work. But after six long years of giving it my best effort I started feeling depressed and very alone. At one point during the struggle of resolving these relationship issues I realized he wasn't going to change. I could see so clearly the emotional abuse, the mind control and the bullying that was going on. 

I grew stronger and more independent over time and one day just decided that this relationship I had with Mr. Church was more harm than good. So I left the relationship and I have never regretted it. Now, outside of the relationship, I see so clearly what was going on. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful for the good things that came from our 36 years together. When you break up with someone there are always those things you miss. I miss the friendship and connection I had with the other members of Mr. Church's family. Many members of the Church family are still in touch and I still have a relationship with them. I have also found strong and meaningful connections outside of the Church family. 

The more time I am away from Mr. Church the better it gets. I know everyone's relationship is unique and I hope others who are in a relationship with Mr. Church can be happy; however, if anyone else feels the need to leave that relationship I hope they find the strength, courage and support to do so.

I know I made the right decision for myself and my family. I propose that a 'crisis of faith' is only possible if one fails to examine their relationship with the church and then take action to either stay in the relationship or leave the relationship.

My advice; don't suffer a 'crisis of faith'. Figure it out; decide what enhances your life and be honest with yourself and your loved ones. There's no crisis in being true to oneself and doing what is good and right for your life and the lives of your loved ones. Don't live in fear and don't operate out of guilt.

* I don't find a reference for the conference talk by BKP. I have searched and as far as I can tell it is no where to be found on the internet, in official church writings or in conference issues of the Ensign. You'll believe me or you won't. I can only say that I was there, I heard the talk and it had a tremendous impact on me. This was not the talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council that you can find referenced online; however, it is similar in nature and timing. The talk I heard was a general conference address to the general, world-wide membership. The words I use are paraphrased because I can't find them quoted exactly as I heard them.

**Since posting this blog I have learned from an internet buddy (see comments below) that the conference talk I heard may not have been a general conference, but rather, a regional conference. 


  1. Great post. I left the church around the same time you did. I remember reading about BKP's talk, and have a mild recollection that it was delivered at BYU, but it would not surprise me if he repeated himself in other venues--stake meetings, for example, where there would be no film or transcript.

    1. Yeah, I distinctly remember sitting in a chapel in Dallas, Oregon with my family. It was General Conference and at that time we had to go to the local chapel and watch conference broadcast to the different buildings via satellite. (Remember the big ass satellite dishes outside the stake center.) I have searched the Ensign conference talks and I can't find the reference anywhere. However he did say the same, or very similar, thing in a talk he gave to a Church Coordinating Council. The very people writing the church curriculum.

      Now, from my current vantage point, I see that Mr. Packer has been the catalyst for many people's exodus from the church. His special calling to cleanse the temple I guess. Along with his mission to get rid of the gay.

      Let me know if you ever find this BKP General Conference talk. The timeline is fuzzy but I think it would have been 1994ish. I don't remember if it was October or April and I don't know if it was Saturday or Sunday. It's driving me nuts that something that had such a huge impact on me is not on the interwebs... makes me feel crazy. :\

  2. Here is a good resource for all thing BKP. http://mormon-chronicles.blogspot.com/2010/10/elder-packer-has-not-shied-away-from.html?m=1

    I think that for many of those that stay, we look forward to BKP not being a GA anymore. Personally, I think that ETB and BKP will be considered as embarrassments by more members. Most people who have hope that the church will change, already see that the things both men have taught as Apostles are not what Christ would have taught.

    As a friend wrote recently, "Christ chose imperfect men, and knew Judas was going to betray Him. I have to believe that there are prideful people who only learn by watching other prideful people be proven wrong, time after time. I think ETB being sent away time after time, and then never talk politics as a prophet was an opportunity for people to see his errors. BKP has also been proven wrong over and over by history, and by revelation. Having known him at the height of his bluster, and having met him recently, I can say with some assurance, that he is not the man he thought he would be, and that his bluster sounds hollow even as he says things."

    I do not mean to try and convince anyone to stay in the church. I have found a place to stand, where I am comfortable staying, and my conscience is clear. If some of my circumstances had been different, I can see that my choice could easily be different, and it could change at some point in the future.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Julia. I have the utmost respect for anyone who makes a conscience decision to stay or leave. I think the crisis is in never questioning, never challenging and never putting the church to the test. Obviously there is something in it for you or you would not stay. I respect that. I especially appreciate that you extend the same respect to those who have chosen differently from you.

    2. Checked out the link Julia and it doesn't include the 'three enemies' reference. One day I'll stumble upon an uncut version of his conference talk.

    3. Grrrrrr at me. I don't have access to my desktop right now, which has a copy that compares what Packer said in the talk to what was printed in the Ensign, (only ETB was censored more ) but I am pretty sure that the comparison was possible only because a BYU student didn't tape over the copy, and instead gave the tape to a more liberal professor (not in the religious studies department) who created the comparison. I will ask around to see who else has a copy. I can't believe that an Oregon Mormon was the only one interested enough to keep a copy.

      (Why not just get my desktop, set it up, and get the file off the hard drive? Typical Mormon, not-so-funny story behind that actually.

      It was one of the first group of things my husband took to go into our 10 by 30 storage unit, back when there were supposed to be an oval walkway so that you could get to all the important stuff. I spent a lot of time making sure that only the important to get to stuff was marked with stickers, so that anything that wasn't important could go in the very back, Ang the things that could go in the middle of the circle path would go last, so it would be easy to put the non-needed stuff in the very back, since there was a clear trail to that area, and the things that went in the middle of the front section would arrive after the back was filled.

      The Elder's Quorum all had copies of the plan, it was color coded with papers on the floor, coded with color and a brief explanation. On of the first men to arrived removed the papers "so they wouldn't get dirty by being walked on," and then proceeded to ignore the dots altogether. I am sure you will be shocked to learn that he also moved everything that was already in the right place in the unit to the farthest back corners. Every week or so Scott goes foraging, for things we need *now,* and I am grateful for a space to keep things why we are in a small apartment, but I'm sill a little bitter, can you tell?)

    4. That's hilarious Julia. Those darn 'bonded' Elders Quorum Movers. ;o)

  3. Well, in calling all the powers on the Interwebs, I have found out a couple things. You were not watching General Conference because he did not say it there. However, if you were in Dallas, Oregon, the Regional Conference in Portland would have been beamed to your building in the same way regular conference would have. I've only gotten a couple responses, but one could confirm BKP did speak at that Regional Conference, and his spearhead had a lot of that rhetoric in it. By General Conference a month later he was told to take it out or not speak. (This is all heresay, and the person who shared it, who is the son of a friend of BKP in Oregon. BKP stayed with their family and was ranting about wimpy Apostles who wanted to water down the truth.) So it is very possible you watched the meeting by satellite in Oregon, and his talk was very similar to the conference talk, because that was very common to try talks out, "in the mission field" before delivering the talk in General Conference.

    I have to say, without my connections in Oregon and being the designated driver for a very drunk young man, who happened to be the Area President's son, I'm not sure I would have had a big enough chip to cash in. ;-)

    1. Wow. Look at you Ms. Sleuth. This might be just the answer and it helps me feel a bit more sane. I am sure of what I heard and it very well could have been a regional conference. I wonder if those would be documented anywhere. I'm glad you had that chip to cash in. Nice work.

    2. By then, ETB had been busy enough that regional and stake conference talks were not supposed to be recorded. It doesn't mean someone didn't, but there would be no official church copy, and no easy recording devices at the time. I promised, I asked all my best sources. If you've got one of his kids or grand kids who will talk, then you might get more, but especially EZB and BKP were not to be recorded.