My name is Jefferson. I grew up in the LDS (mormon) church, fulfilled a faithful 2 year mission to convert others, and decided to leave the religion 3 months after returning; giving up an engagement to the girl who “waited” and the future I had been planning my whole life. My father is gay, my mother still believes in god but not religion, my girlfriend is agnostic, most of my family is still Mormon . . .
And I have a story to tell.
This blog will be my attempt at remembering the things I felt as a believer, recalling the reasons I doubted, the people who influenced my process, and the philosophy behind the life I lead now. I’m an open, loving, trusting person and don’t pass judgement on anyone for their beliefs – yet I left Mormonism because of some very real issues in doctrine. I ask everyone to do what I ask myself to do each day: suspend judgement. Read my story, see what you experience, and understand me. Understand why I made the extremely difficult choice I made.
I will follow one rule not often adhered to in argument: I will show my weakness. I will open up some of my journal entries*, show you the emotional and logical strain I went through, and give you a glimpse into what it was like to be me. I promise integrity: When I don’t feel I can explain something away I won’t try to do so; I still have many open ended questions left unresolved today, and that’s ok.
I ask you to read, enjoy, understand, and if you choose: respond.
If its true that “by their fruits you shall know them” (that you can tell if something is good or bad by the effect it has on your life), I promise you the fruits of this blog will be understanding and love, if you choose it to receive it that way. If you’d like to argue points of doctrine and debate the conclusions I came to – I welcome it; I don’t think love and debate are mutually exclusive: we can talk about our disagreements without disrespecting each other or assuming bad intentions. Disagree with my conclusions, but respect my ability and reasons for arriving at those conclusions.
My only goal is to bridge the gaps often created between believers and those who have left.**
I’m starting off with the journal entry I wrote the day I left the church, a short piece about the effect of the Church’s doctrine on my relationship with my father, and the reasons I loved growing up as a Mormon.
*Why include personal details like journals? Because religious conviction can’t be understood if detached from all of the human experience. We can have a heady conversation about doctrines, philosophies, people, and events; but those are shallow and meaningless when disconnected from emotion.
**This isn’t an attempt to convince anyone to hold my same beliefs, but an invitation to understand. This isn’t just a catalog of what’s happened in the past: it will also be a forum for my responses to contemporary religious debate on an ongoing basis.