Friday, April 6, 2012

My Un-Missionary Experience

Probably around half of the people I work with know that I was raised Mormon but no longer subscribe to the belief system.

A big part of the reason that some of them know is because when one of the high school kids learned that I used to be Mormon, he began yelling out "STORRRRMIIIIIIN MORRRRMOOOOON" at inappropriate times.  This often results in somebody giving me a weird look and saying, "'re Mormon??"

A lot of my coworkers and employees will learn that I was raised in the religion but no longer consider myself a Mormon and they'll leave it at that.  But the other night, one of my closers learned that I was a Mormon and wouldn't stop asking questions.  This, of course, was something I would have been really excited about ten years ago.  (Missionary opportunity!)  But my new perspective, mixed with the fact that I was at work and I was supposed to be playing the role of politically-correct supervisor, made me hesitant to answer his questions.  But the guy was really, really curious.

"You're a Mormon?" he'd ask repeatedly.  "What's that?"

Finally, when he seemed annoyed that I kept evading his question, I explained that it was a religion but I didn't really feel comfortable talking about it.  I told him that I was really angry about being raised in the religion and I felt like if I started a conversation about it I'd wind up going on some not-work-appropriate rant about all the things that pissed me off about Mormonism.

"My mom raised me a Christian," he said.  "I got pretty mad with having to be at church all the time.  Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  We have that in common."  He continued to explain that he was pretty curious about what a Mormon was.

I asked him if he'd learned about Mormons in history class.  He's attending the same high school I graduated from and my class had covered Mormonism briefly in ninth grade.  He had no memory of it ever coming up in history class.  So I told him Mormonism was "kind of an offshoot" of Christianity.  I told him about how it was a big deal for a while in the mid 1800s, partly because it was some start-up religion that pissed people off with its polygamy.  I told him about how they fled to Utah and settled down and that there were millions of them now.  I told him about the "I'm a Mormon" campaign and the church's attempt to make people think they were normal.  I told him about how strict it was and how I felt like I'd been brainwashed.

Oddly enough, I never mentioned the Book of Mormon.  It just didn't seem important.

It was interesting having a missionary experience as an ex-Mormon.  Ironically enough, it turned out that I felt much more comfortable explaining the religion from a non-believer's perspective than it ever did when I was a member.  When I was growing up, I'd mumble some brief explanation and hoped whoever asked me would change the subject.  Here, I'm actually hoping he asks me more questions the next time we work together.  I can't wait to tell him the church was founded because of a series of visions given to a young boy. I can't wait to tell him how the church contradicts itself and attempts to hide its own history.

Even better, this guy is black.  He tends to crack a lot of jokes about how tough it is to be a black guy.  He's very comfortable discussing slavery, the quest for civil rights, and the current state of racism.  He considers himself a realist on the subject of race relations--he knows racism exists and that it's bad, but he prefers to accept it instead of getting angry about it.  I can't wait to tell him that, until 35 years ago, blacks weren't allowed to join the priesthood.  It won't make him angry, but it may give him pause.

If he keeps asking questions, hopefully I'll be able to give him more and more reasons to stay the hell away from the Mormon church.


  1. Ironically enough, it turned out that I felt much more comfortable explaining the religion from a non-believer's perspective than it ever did when I was a member.

    This is a common thread I've found in a lot of former Mormon stories about talking about Mormonism after leaving the church.

    I think it's because as members, we are under pressure to say certain things, stick to the script, etc., But as ex-Mormons, we aren't *responsible* for or to the church. So we can speak our minds.

    I always wonder that speaking frankly about the church will actually make someone more interested in it (after hearing about all the warts), only for them to be turned off by how ...sterile... things are at church in comparison.

    1. Your an idiot the reason it felt more comfortable was because you were telling him what he wanted to hear, so you don't have to worry about him judging you, rather than what you believed to be true. for example taking things to the extremes I would feel a lot more comfortable telling a man who has a gun up to my head and says "if you don't tell me 2+2=5 ill shoot" that 2+2 does indeed equal 5

    2. Not that I'm expecting you to return, but here is my reply.

  2. I think you're exactly right, Andrew. I wasn't under the weight of trying to rehearse the PR I'd learned in Sunday School.

    I think another part of it was that I didn't want him to believe any of it, so I didn't need to feel weird about the sketchy stuff. While explaining the embarrassing parts (like polygamy), I could make it clear how stupid I thought it was instead of just glossing it over quickly and stressing the fact that WE DON'T DO THAT ANYMORE.

    I guess it's more relaxing to explain Mormonism buffet-style than milk-before-meat.

  3. Probably because most non-sociopaths don't like to lie.

  4. My dads friend is starting to ask about the church. i want to be a 'nice' person and stay out of it, but her son just came out of the closet, so at the vary least i think she should know that the church is homophobic.