UU Mormon

Can It Truly Be That I Converted a Mormon?

Posted on: October 1, 2009

by mev

I was pretty sure I knew more about other religions that the average American. My belief was based on the knowledge that came from (a) growing up Unitarian (the junior high curriculum was called The Church Across the Street and has evolved to the Neighboring Faiths curriculum that my seventh grader is in), (b) teaching RE for years, and (c) a general nosiness, uh, interest in other people’s lives.

The Mormons were mostly a mystery, though, until I met Philomytha. As I got to know her, I realized I might have an opportunity to get some inside answers to questions I’d been holding onto ever since reading a couple of Washington Post articles some years earlier.

When I felt comfortable, I boldly asked about her underwear (yes, Mormons wear special undergarments to help remind them of their covenant) and why Mormons baptize dead people (so they have the choice of accepting Mormon teachings and going to the good Mormon afterlife). Note: these are my simplified interpretations of much longer answers.

With that stuff out of the way, I wanted to learn more so I had several meetings with the local Mormon missionaries. I am not sure whether they really understood that I simply wanted more info in order to better understand my new friend, Philomytha. At the end of the four meetings, I thanked the guys and told them what I’d told them all along–Unitarian Universalism works for me and I have no intention of converting.

And that’s where my first Aha! insight came along. Despite my belief that I knew a lot about other religions, I’d been operating under an assumption that is simply not true! It is this: We all believe that a person’s religion ought to work for him or her; that is, that it ought to be a good fit. And if it isn’t, then you search for a religion that is a good fit for you.

As Philomytha and AdventureGirl (another Mormon friend) talked about their church, expressing their concerns and, yes, complaints, I offered what I thought was a simple and true statement, “It sounds like your church doesn’t work for you.” But my friends were surprised that I thought their religion ought to work for them.

Wow. It was mind-boggling to me that it was mind-boggling to them.

So, now here we are: AdventureGirl and her family have moved overseas (her husband is military) and are taking a year off Mormonism to follow their spiritual paths, and Philomytha and her kids are spending a sabbatical year jumping into my UU congregation.


7 Responses to "Can It Truly Be That I Converted a Mormon?"

Yeah, that was quite a disconnect!!! If your church isn't working for you, you should find a new church.


That isn't a viable option when you belong to the "one True church". If it's not working for you it's because you're not praying enough, keeping the commandments well enough, reading your scriptures enough, having family prayer and family home evening, or you're just not humble enough. If you fix what you are doing wrong, then the church will work for you.

I've gotten past that part of it now, finally, though I will always be Mormon. It's my tribe. 🙂

… It’s statements like that which cause people to claim that we’re all brainwashed.

If your church isn't working for you, you should find a new church.

I like that. I think I was told a similar thing a year or two back. After recounting a rather disconcerting situation I'd found myself in during Sunday services, a good friend suggested that it might be time to consider that I was in a dysfunctional relationship with the LDS Church. Like many things in life, I think when you're in it, it's hard to see things objectively.

That was a pretty big jump for me, and I regret that many people I know don’t realize it either.

If I may, I’ll post a snippet from an ex-Mormon commenter on my site:

I never believed in the church because of its moral/life principals and teachings. I agreed with a lot of them, but disagreed with a few of them. The ones I agreed with, I would live with or without the church because, uhhh, I agreed with them, but the other ones, I felt bound to believe in or follow, because God said that was how things were. I guess I felt that if the church was not true, then I would be free to live what I considered a higher moral standard.

Isn’t that sad? There are people who truly believe that religion isn’t something you engage in because it improves you…but rather something you…suffer because it is the way things are.

There are people who truly believe that religion isn’t something you engage in because it improves you…but rather something you…suffer because it is the way things are.

Yeah, that describes much of my life pretty well! Except I thought it was the suffering that was supposed to improve me. It builds character, as they say. I hated it so it must be good for me.

I remember my husband saying about gay marriage, “I know I’m supposed to be against it, but…” That was where we realized we actually had to choose between church teachings and what our consciences were telling us. It made me wonder what else I accepted as “right” without reflecting on whether it really was right.

Wow, if it doesn’t work for you… change it! Revolutionary! I grew up lds and now bounce around between no church, uu church or unity church, depending on the week and my mood. I remember as a kid learning certain teachings and thinking, “wow that really sucks, but if that’s how it is than that’s how it is I guess, not everything is fair”… or is it? 🙂

At the same time…maybe it’s because of my upbringing…but I just can’t feel right “picking and choosing.”

I mean, of course, it happens, but I have to feel as if I’m reaching some sort of truth (or that I don’t care about truth).

For example, if I am taught that polygamy is necessary (whether in this life or the next), but polygamy bothers me…then I can’t just say, “Well, then, I will just find a different church. If I believe the church’s framework is true, then I can’t just set it aside because it’s distasteful. So, first, I had to realize that I didn’t believe.

I have played devil’s advocate frequently, suggesting things that would “fix” troublesome aspects of doctrine whether in LDS Christianity or non-LDS Christianity…and I’ve come to some creative solutions that have made me feel better…but when I realize that these things are unlikely to be adopted as “orthodox” teachings, I realize that all of my philosophizing was in vain.

So I could not HONESTLY be a new order Mormon…it would cut against me.

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