Posted by: nflanders | May 18, 2008

Ned the Non-Mormon

That sounds weird to me, but it’s true. Since February I’ve been a non-member and didn’t even know it. I’ve even got proof:

Certificate of non-Mormonness

How does it feel to resign? I don’t feel any different. Maybe a little more relaxed knowing that the next knock on the door could just as likely be Jehovah’s Witnesses as Mormon missionaries, but that home teachers will never visit me again. I don’t have a community I belong to, but I never really had one to start with, so that’s nothing new.

I feel content knowing that I am no longer implicated when the Church makes some dumb-ass announcement on gay marriage or sues Wikileaks for posting the Church Handbook of Instructions. I am no longer a member of an organization that prescribes “Church discipline” for single women who are artificially inseminated.

In short, I feel at peace with myself and the world. I guess it’s too bad I lost the Holy Ghost.

I prefer to think of myself as a non-Mormon, if only because “ex-Mormon” has been freighted with so much baggage. But I am that too. Ned the ex-Mormon. That has a nice ring to it.

I haven’t told my parents or family, nor do I plan to. We don’t talk about religion or politics and that’s the way we like it. If at their next tithing settlement, my record shows up all blanked out, so be it. I’m not ashamed of my decision or scared to tell them. I just know that they’d prefer to think of me as inactive, so I’m not going to deliberately stir up trouble. But really, I’m over thirty, I think they should be able to handle it fine.

I feel at peace knowing that my temple work can’t be performed vicariously after my death without permission of the First Presidency. I can’t erase the mark Mormonism left on me, but I am not defined by it. It may give me something to talk about or bond over with friends on the internet, but it’s no more a part of my life than the boy scouts. I always thought their uniforms were lame too.

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Responses

  1. Damn you’re lucky. I got a letter from the same guy and he told me that I had to go through my bishop (which I already did!). What did you do differently?

    And I’ve never heard about “church discipline” for women who want to have a baby and keep the law of chastity. What the hell is wrong with these people?

    Seriously.

  2. As a non-mormon, aren’t you defined as much by mormonism?

    Its both good and bad we hold leaders to a high standard. Good because they should be better. Bad because the imperfect can do so much good.

  3. Craig–

    You’re almost there. It just takes a little time, and it sounds like your Bishop is kind of a jerk. I know you already talked to him directly, so he should have set the wheels in motion already. Unfortunately, sometimes they need a kick in the butt from Greg Dodge to move on it.

    The most efficient way is to send a letter to Greg Dodge, he forwards it to your Bishop, and sends you the “this is a local ecclesiastical matter letter.” Then your Bishop will send you a letter lamenting your decision and giving you 30 days to contact the Stake President to change your mind. After 30 days, they’ll fill out the form and submit it to Greg Dodge and you’ll be officially off the rolls. Then Greg will send you the letter I got. So simple, eh? If you don’t get the “30-day” letter from your Bishop soon, I’d give Greg Dodge a call. They were pretty nice to me when I called.

    As for the church discipline for single women getting artificially inseminated, I read it in the 1999 version of the Church Handbook of Instructions that wikileaks posted on the internet. You can find it here: (warning, it’s 150 pages in pdf format:

    http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Mormon_Church_Handbook_of_Instructions_%281999%29

    There is a lot of very interesting stuff in there. That’s where I learned that I can’t be buried in my Temple cothing (yeah!) and that my temple work can’t be done without First Presidency approval.

    Ola senor — Ha. Point taken. I’m not sure what you mean about leaders though.

  4. I guess I just wait then and see if I get a letter from that bishop. I have actually already downloaded the CHI, but haven’t had time to peruse it, what with starting a new job and all.

  5. Is that letter that I wrote to the local bishop my resignation letter? Wow. I was only hoping the missionaries would come to understand that I’m not interested. At all. But an official letter from manager, member and statistical records guy would be wicked awesome. Not holding my breath here, though.

    On a different note: this post makes me hopeful. The way that you’ve described your peace and your acceptance brings me peace.

  6. Yep, Jane. Unfortunately, the Mormon Church only has two speeds: full steam ahead and “Would you like to join our Church?”

    The only way to avoid getting visited every once in a while is to completely quit. There’s no such thing as a Do Not Contact list. For a church run by businessmen, this is surprising.

  7. Hi Ned. It recently occurred to me that I hadn’t seen you around the Mormon blogs in a while so I thought I’d find your blog and see what you’re up to. I always enjoyed your comments. I’d love to get a message if you have a moment.

    The church was more fun with you in it (even if just nominally in it), but you’ve got to do what you gotta do, I guess.

    Also, if you ever wish to become a member of the Boy Scouts again, please contact your bishop and he’ll help you with that too.

    I concur that there is no such thing as a “no contact list.” It doesn’t exist. Well, I guess I have my own personal no contact list, that is, people that have told me personally (like people I’m assigned to home teach) that they don’t want contact. I don’t contact them. I tell the bishop that they told me that they don’t want contact. In a year or two, they’ll forget about that, put these people on someone else’s list, and they’ll get contacted again.

    By the way, my own no contact list does not just include disaffected members of the church. There are many broad classes of people that don’t want any contact with me.

    Once I called a woman that they put on my home teaching list. I told her that I was asked to be her home teacher, and would she mind if I stopped by to say hello. She said that she’d rather I not, and that she didn’t want any contact from the church at that time, and that she’d be the one to let us know if that ever changed. I told her that I understood, I’d pass that info along (for whatever that’s worth), and that I wouldn’t contact her again. I then make 2 or 3 more calls on my list, and then accidentally call this same woman again, about 20 minutes after she told me that she didn’t want any more contact. (Her adult daughter, different last name but same number, was also on my list, and I didn’t realize that I was calling the same household when I tried to reach the daughter.) I apologized, and we laughed together about the fact that I couldn’t keep my pledge not to contact her again for more than half an hour.

    I’m currently assigned to home teach a few inactive people that don’t want visits, but don’t mind if I email them every few months and let them know what’s going on at church, wish them merry Christmas, or check in to see if their house is on fire. I figure that it can’t hurt for someone to know that there’s someone out there willing to help them with anything should they ever need it. I’m not much of a fan of the home teaching program, but it strikes me that that aspect isn’t a bad thing, whatever you think about the church.

    I wonder how many people that go through the trouble of requesting name removal ever attempt to rejoin the church. Not very many, I bet, compared to those that get excommunicated.

    Diddly.

  8. It’s nice to see you around, gst. You are my favorite person ever to lose to Ken Jennings. I really think they should give all 148 of you a second chance. Call it the Ken Jennings Runner-Up Tournament. It’s only fair. As for me, I’m waiting for Couples Jeopardy. I’ll see you there.

    I agree with you completely on the (alas, theoretical) Do Not Contact list. It’s hard to believe they still don’t have one, especially when it would be so easy to add. Also, I can’t help but think this is going to push people who are mostly indifferent to become bothered enough to write a letter.

    I guess the theory that the Church is subscribing to here is the “annoy the ninety-nine to save the one.” As annoying as the very occasional contact is, I tend to think the home teaching program is much, much harder on the believing members. Contacting people who don’t want to be contacted is tough. Worse, many of these people are already annoyed that the guy before you tried to contact them. The Church is putting its most devoted members in harm’s way, and then guilting them if they don’t. It’s lose/lose. Maybe one time in a hundred, the person is glad to have someone reach out to them, and I guess that is nice, but at what cost? I’d like to tally up the man-hours, assign a monetary value to low-level constant guilt (like cosmic radiation, it was created just seconds after the big-bang), and get a price-tag on each welcome inactive hometeaching contact. I’m guessing it’s several hundred dollars, if not thousands. I know the worth of souls is great, but come on!

    I think you are also right that more excommunicated people come back than name-removers. However, I tend to think that this is simply because if you actually consent to stick around for the whole humiliating process of excommunication, you probably believe enough to want to eventually come back. Sadly, I think this is just another example that the people who care the most are also the ones hurt the most. I guess that’s always the case, but it still can break your heart.

    At any rate, while not being visited by home teachers is a bonus, it’s not the reason that I ultimately resigned. I resigned because I don’t believe, and because I disagree with many of the things the Church does, both on an institutional level and on a personal level. Full stop. If someone could invent a non-religious church equivalent, where people could meet (or not) without guilt, with a vote on who their leaders were and where their money went, then I would be all for it. Well, I guess they have, but no one under 50 is a mason anymore. And, I guess no one would willingly give up so much of their time if there weren’t the spectre of eternal damnation/eternal happiness looming over the proceedings. No one would show up, and it really would be just like the masons.

    In summary, Libya is a land of contrasts. I mean, I like Mormons, I just don’t like Mormonism. I wouldn’t mind, though, an occasional game of pick-up basketball.

  9. Oh, and ooogily googily.

  10. I think that the “no contact” thing just depends on what ward you live in and what the local leadership is like. And of course, once you’re no longer a member, and you move, they really have no way of finding you, as you no longer show up on local membership records (unless “well-meaning” relatives send the missionaries to your door, and even then, if you don’t tell them you’re ex-Mormon – and maybe even if you do – they will probably leave you alone after the first rejection). But I agree that for the most part, inactive members are never really left alone, except in rare circumstances.

    Oh, and the basketball thing was one of the main reasons I left. Well, the real reason is the fact that a male who don’t love to play church basketball and do all the heterocentric activities and have all the heterocentric interests (as highly encouraged by the church and Mormon culture) is ostracised and often has no where to go to fit in, is a major reason why I found so many aspects of Mormonism so uncomfortable.

    It’s so sad how extremely “otherness” is demonised in the church, and not just in doctrinal positions, but in absurd things like whether someone likes sports or quilting, or sends their kids to day care. It’s even sadder how children growing up in the church are brainwashed (yes, brainwashed) to believe those things.

  11. I was hoping Ken would take a dive for his co-religionist, but no love there.

  12. I’m sorry, gst. Hopefully Ken is busy at work updating Celestial Pursuit for a new generation.

    Craig, you’re missing out on church basketball. It’s the closest equivalent to Fight Club’s “I want you to punch me as hard as you can in the face.” In some cases, it’s the exact equivalent.

  13. Yeah.. “missing out”? Not so much.

  14. Hi Ned Flanders. Just saying hi. Hope the job ain’t killing ya. And if it is, I hope you’re keeping a great journal about it. We could share horror stories.

    *Mwah*


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