For those of you who saw the South Park episode All About Mormons, you know how interesting the Mormon church can be. I’ve also read Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book about extreme Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven, and more recently, been watching the HBO series Big Love. That show is so great. It’s about a closet polygamist — he’s not a Mormon extremist, just a quote-unquote regular Mormon who happens to have three wives.
So naturally I’m more interested in Mormons, or in the case of Not My God, ex-Mormons, these days. In person, I’ve only met a small handful of Mormons in my life. I’ve corresponded with some before for this site. Richard Packham submitted his story to me some time back.
Richard studied Mormonism seriously and when disturbing questions came up, he put them aside. One dilemma especially troubled him: “Brigham Young had taught that Adam is God the Father. But the present church does not teach this. What is the truth?”
When he could no longer reconcile the differences, he concluded that the religion had to be man-made and, in a gush of relief, told his wife, who did not want to hear the news.
“I tried to continue my church responsibilities, primarily as ward organist. But I found it more and more difficult to sound sincere in public speaking, public prayer, or participation in class discussions. During the next summer my wife took the children back to Utah for a visit, and I felt it was silly for me to continue to wear the temple garments. And why shouldn’t I have a cup of coffee with the other students, or have a glass of wine at a party? I had never tasted coffee or alcohol in my life, but there was no reason now, I felt, to deprive myself of those pleasant things. The next year was an armed truce in my marriage.”
Richard, whose story had an ultimately happy ending, was not a Mormon extremist. I would love to hear from people who have successfully left Mormon extremism. Escaping from any cult, for that matter, must be very difficult and perhaps even dangerous. As to Mormonism specifically, I’d like to know the accuracy behind the Mormon compound on Big Love and in Under the Banner of Heaven.
Just one more thought: any group of people that eschews caffeine and alcohol (one or the other would be bad enough) isn’t fun.