So the other day I brought my Atheist boyfriend to a Mormon church service. The Bishop was traveling for work, so one of the counselors was leading. He started normally, making announcements and going through the program step-by-step. A new family had just moved into the ward, and he called the names of the Molly Mormon Mom and Dedicated Dad and their three perfect children Moroni, Ruth, and Joseph. Then he asked the congregation to show their welcoming votes by raising their right hands. Now, I was just going through the motions and I raised my hand with everyone else. As it was happening, it wasn't so different, but I looked around when everyone had their hands up, and I was shocked. I put my hand down with everyone else, and I looked over at my boyfriend, and he looked like he had just seen a ghost. I felt the same way.
Now, I have to say, before this incident I just thought the church was full of crazy people who were starved for something to defend. Starved for something to throw their life into and be the excuse for why they couldn't drink or smoke, even though they know they would try such blasphemous things if they weren't so scared of judgement. I don't care who you ask, every Mormon is afraid of judgement, whether it's god or man. But that's a different story for a different day.
When I saw his face, I saw a few things, confusion being the main emotion. There was also some fear, and it seemed like he thought the next order of business was going to be the human sacrifice. He looked like he wanted to stand up and run, and I couldn't blame him. I wanted to grab his arm and whisper into his ear "Don't look them in the eye." and sprint to the door. But we didn't. We just sat there looking at each other with wide eyes. Anyone on the outside would think someone we knew just died and we couldn't speak, but we were silently communicating. Should we stay, should we go? I broke the silence and simply said to him "I used to have my doubts about it, but you were right. This is a cult." After that, the testimony sharing started.
My mother had invited my siblings and I, and all of our "significant others". I guess since everyone was there, she felt she had to say something about it to everyone else. She cried her testimony out about how she loved seeing all of her children in the same place at the same time and how Jesus made it happen; the usual. When someone made a reference my boyfriend didn't understand, he whispered a question in my ear, and I would answer it in the least crazy sounding way possible. A man went up to the podium and started talking about how his son was just baptized and how much of a commitment it was, and he said something that puzzled my boyfriend, but I wasn't paying attention. He was just another guy close to tears talking about how much he believes in Joseph Smith and the power of baptism, blah blah blah. But my boyfriend leaned over to me and asked "What's that all about?" I asked him what he meant, but he didn't want to have to explain it and have my parents think he was rude for talking in church, so we were quiet.
After it was over, my family went on to their usual activities, and we went out to the car alone to talk about this experience we had. I asked him about what had confused him during the testimony and he explained that the man had said something along the lines of "I'm glad my son has decided to make this decision to be baptized, and then strive to understand what this commitment means." He asked why it was in that order. He was raised in the Church of Christ, so no one gets baptized before they are at least 11 or 12, and never before they fully understand what that commitment means. They go through weeks, months, and even years of study before they make the decision to commit their entire life to Christ. For Mormons, it's just something ever 8-year-old does. It's like learning how to read or write. It happens no matter what, and if you don't learn, your peers will think you weren't raised right.
For him, the meeting just raised questions about basic things. I had the same questions he did, but it wasn't because I didn't know the answers, it was because I only knew the answers that the church taught me. After that, my view of the members went from "They just want something to believe in." to "They have all been brainwashed." Even though it was extremely depressing to know this, because my family is so committed to it, I had a refreshed feeling knowing that I could question, because I knew that everything they teach is absolutely wrong. Eating, drinking, and being merry is fantastic. Drugs and alcohol are two experiences teens should have. Sex shouldn't be dictated by a man in a suit that you have never met who thinks he is the only person on earth that can talk to god. Having parties that include loud music and crazy dancing don't make your children love Satan. And single mothers aren't helpless women that need men to live a normal life and raise their kids. And if you are a single mother and you think like that, I just have to say that I am sorry you don't realize how strong you are.
If you are reading this blog because you have doubts about your Mormon beliefs, let me direct you to the places that helped me make my decision: