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Giving Up Love-Bombing

There’s a lot of talk in the post-Mormon world about how to rebuild “community.” Mormons do community well, that’s what they say. And in some ways, it is true. No matter where you move in the world, it seems, there is a Mormon ward to greet you. They will likely help you move in (actually physically carrying boxes for you), bring you casseroles, and greet you with smiling faces when you show up to church on Sunday. They’ll also be quick to put you to work with callings in the ward that will help you feel integrated and useful, not to mention the fact that there will shortly be some segment of the population you will know by name and by personality — even if that segment is the nursery kids under age three. …


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I’ve been watching scenes of happy celebration around the country, as Democrats rejoice over Biden’s final, late-called victory. I’m a registered Republican who voted Hilary in 2016 and Biden in 2020. Maybe I’m a Democrat now. I don’t know. Certainly most of the Republicans in Utah would say that I’m not a “real” Republican. But I find it very difficult to feel anything like celebratory excitement right now. I wish I could. I don’t think it’s because of Biden. It’s because of Trump.

In 2016, when the election was called for Trump, I wasn’t one of those people who went to bed, thinking that it wasn’t true. I knew it was. I’d believed that morning and every day for weeks leading up to the moment that Hilary would win. And then the world shifted and I was frankly terrified. I kept imagining unlikely ways that America would be saved from Trump. Maybe Obama just wouldn’t let Trump take office. Maybe Evan McMullin would be elected instead (yeah, I know that one was particularly stupid). But the truth is, I live in a red state. Most of the people around me had voted for Trump. Mormons who shrugged off his disgusting personal morals (the way Democrats had shrugged off Bill Clinton’s morals) because of the need to have someone who would defend the “right” policies: mostly pro-life stances, but also tax policy and an aggressive American stance in global politics. …


I’m a Proud Covenant-Breaker

Sometimes when I openly admit that I’m a covenant breaker, other ex-Mormons interrupt me and insist that I’m not. A covenant, they argue, doesn’t count if you didn’t really understand what the covenant was going to be. Since you didn’t know what was going to happen in the temple and you were so pressured into saying yes to everything in the temple, you aren’t the one breaking the covenant, the Mormon church is. The Mormon church lied about its history, lied about its power and priesthood, lied about being the only true church on the earth, lied about its prophets and apostle talking to God, so you’re off the hook. …


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After spending nearly fifty years of my life as a Mormon woman, I find myself trying to figure out who I am now. So much of my identity was swallowed up in my Mormonness. I look back and wonder what other choices I might have made if I had not been Mormon. The movie Sliding Doors is about a completely insignificant moment of a sliding door that closed and the two different lives for the same woman that might have happened as a result of the two outcomes. I can think of a thousand different moments in my life that might have changed as I look back at the last fifty years, and a thousand different versions of me that might have emerged. …


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Ex-Mormon Women and Lasting Financial Disparities

I’ve written before about the on-going problem of structures of Mormonism remaining for those who leave Mormonism, and this is another one that it seems many ex-Mormon women see clearly and ex-Mormon men do not see at all. It is a painful reality of leaving Mormonism that it is difficult to undo the external and internal assumptions of church culture and doctrine that are so deeply embedded that we do not realize they are there. …


Satan’s Plan of Mormonism

Mormonism teaches that Satan and Jesus both presented plans to the assembled spirits who were God’s children in the premortal life. Satan’s plan was to force everyone to choose what was right, so that no one would be lost, and all would return to God’s kingdom after a mortal life. Jesus’s plan was to allow free agency, so that we could all choose right or wrong, and make mistakes and learn from them. Jesus’s plan required a savior who would come and make the ultimate sacrifice, an eternal Atonement that would allow us to be free from sin and still return to God’s kingdom, if we chose to accept that Atonement on our behalf. The “War in Heaven” followed, in which a third of God’s children chose Satan’s plan, and were cast out, along with him, and have become demons who will never have a mortal body. …


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John Dehlin has asked repeatedly why it is that he is most vociferously critiqued by other ex-Mormons, rather than by Mormons. One answer to this is fairly simple, that most Mormons don’t follow him and if angry at him, tend toward passive-aggressive remarks and certainly no cursing. Ex-Mormons, however, have no such restraint or need for niceness, and some of us are still figuring out how much cursing and which curse words are the best ones to use for our apparent constant state of anger post-Mormonism. …


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Happiness Cults

Mormonism loudly touts its “Plan of Happiness,” as well as its general “clean living” to the world as proof of how good it is as a religion (and sometimes as proof that it is “the one true church” as it claims in missionary efforts). It wasn’t until recently that I began to suspect that the promise of happiness is actual a symptom of a kind of cult-like behavior. On the one hand, the insistence that Mormons must be happy often leads us (in particular women) to put on false masks of happy faces to prove that our religion is right. Being happy is proof of our righteousness. I’ve even heard talks given that insist that it is our duty to be happy, because God demands our obedience and our happiness in being obedient. …


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Some of these gendered commandments of Mormonism are stated explicitly. Others are more implicit. But these are what I heard when I was still in the church.

Men’s Commandments

Be a leader.

Speak boldly.

Trust your instincts because that’s the Holy Spirit.

God tells you what other people should do.

Your body is yours.

Once married, you will have as much sex as you want forever. This is your right.

Women are dangerous. Their bodies are tempting.

It’s important to have male-only groups so you can learn to be male.

There are just places women don’t belong.

There’s nothing you shouldn’t have an opinion on. …


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What Do Ex-Mormon Women Want?

After spending a year and the space of several essays telling ex-Mormon men what they are doing wrong, a few of them have (apparently genuinely) asked me for some advice about what they should be doing better. *Sigh* A part of me wants to say — do your own work! I’m tired. Why is it my job to help you be better? You’re a grown-ass man. You can figure things out on your own. Women and ex-Mormon women are all around you. They’ve always been all around you. …

About

Mette Harrison

Author of The Bishop’s Wife mystery series, The Mormon Sabbatical Podcast, Princeton PhD, fiction editor at Exponent II, autist, she/her

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