On behalf of my PostMormon, Ex-Mormon and even Non-Mormon friends everywhere I'd like to offer up a collection of thankyou notes for the LDS church and it's well meaning members who out of sincere desire to include us in their church continue to attempt to welcome us back into the fold.
Many of us are accused of leaving the church, but not leaving it alone. There's so much truth to that statement, especially if you consider that the LDS church will resist every effort for us to leave with our dignity and family in tact. Even when we do leave ALONE, they will continue to hound us till beyond the grave.
(Disclaimer, some of the references to various personal experiences come from a wide range of friends who have told endless stories about having their privacy, family and rights invaded by LDS groups and individuals who seemed to have missed out on any training in manners, boundaries, or respect of their fellow man. Not all these are my own experiences, but conglomerates. Perhaps one will resonate with you.)
Thankyou Your Ward Here for receiving my resignation letter. I appreciate how seriously you took my request for no more contact and sent Bishop XXX to confirm that the letter was from me. It was especially kind of him to remind me of my eternal salvation. I hadn't considered that when I left the church, graduated to more enlightened thinking, and no longer believe in God or Heaven. The Bishops stern warning had a powerful impact considering that I no longer fear heaven or hell.
Thanyou Your Ward Here for keeping my name on your rolls despite my specific and repeated requests for removal. By tracking my various moves and sending my records to wards where I've never attended and sending new LDS neighbors to keep tabs on me you have given me an intense sense of connection. I know that no matter how far I travel, how much I disassociate with the church, that the LDS church will always have my back. It's like having a very special fan club that knows where I am at all times, stays abreast of my personal family matters, and can access my work, home, and even private cell phone numbers at a moments notice and then share that information with numerous auxiliaries. It makes the phrase, "You can leave the church, but you can never leave it alone" even more pungent.
Speaking of leaving it "alone", I want to thank the church for keeping such close tabs on my family. I know that I can leave but if I want to take my family with me I can rest assured that the church will be there to make sure they are tightly protected from my influence and parental rights. By continually influencing their every thought and action you keep a growing wedge between us that grows from irritating to a collosal chasm that is almost irreparable.
As I work to repair the relationships with my spouse and children I want to thank you for continuing to interfere. It could almost feel like love, in the way that a false accusation of child molestation or abuse feels like love. By teaching our children that those of us who leave are dangerous, unhappy, and even evil you create a self fulfilling prophecy by making us unhappy and forced to react to the continual undermining of our parenting.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Relief Society. Thankyou for keeping me on your Visiting Teaching rolls. Having an assigned friend at these troubled times is a great comfort. When you call and drop by with your notes, treats, Ensign articles, handouts, ward lists, Homemaking Night invites, RS Birthday party invites, and the many many other incidental invitations it shows me that no matter how much I want to avoid all that is LDS and the Relief Society, that the Relief Society will never ever leave me. Like an obsessed lover or ex-husband, you reflect intense affection and devotion.
Nothing says "Love' like the social network of the Young Men's, Young Women's, and Primary Organizations. While my children may struggle after we leave the church to find friends that will accept them without the attachment of the church, you send your kids by and condition them to approach our children at school and pressure them to return. At a child's vulnerable weakest you make sure that they are socially shut out if they don't go to Primary and cut off from friends if they are not involved in the Youth activities. In doing so you create a false need and longing, not for the gospel but for acceptance, and willingness to submit in order to have those vital friendships. Thankyou LDS church for teaching my children that without the church they are NOTHING.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a grateful nod to the Elders Quorum for their diligent service. During a painful divorce, loss of our home, job insecurity you never failed to send a completely detached man by that offered a kind prayer on our behalf. Sure we could have used some help, maybe even a true friend but knowing that that man would come by on the 30th of every month and mark us off his list was a great comfort. And the prayers were powerful. In fact, after the divorce and loss of our home we've found refuge in a travel trailer at the KOA. The Lord works in mysterious ways. And in spite of leaving the church you have made sure that the Elders Quorum have kept us on their list as well and continue to send a stranger to our door in spite of our requests to leave us alone. In doing so you show that you know what we need better than we know what we need. It's comforting to know that should we suddenly decide the church is true that we can go to this stranger and have him pray for us.
It was wonderful when one of the EQ dropped a little google map by the other day with an invitation to come to church. Considering that there's an LDS church within a three block radius in every town and no way to escape the behemoth architectural invasion into every neighborhood, it was nice to know that this time we had a map. It's almost as if many in the church think like Miss South Carolina when she said, "Some people don't have maps". Sure I've been to that ward for 20 years, sure I can see nine steeples from my back yard, and it's no secret that the line of cars every Sunday morning leads directly to those churches and would be easy to follow if I were inclined to go to a Mormon church, but having that map made all the difference. Thankyou for your endless tiny kindnesses. Let it never be said that the Mormons aren't thorough.
This letter wouldn't be complete without a thankyou note to the LDS missionaries. In spite of having been on a mission myself, having raised a son and helped him with his mission preparation, having heard every lesson forward and back and read the scriptures and been fairly learned in the actual doctrines of the gospel, (even having been a Gospel Doctrine Teacher) it's incredible to have two young men in white shirts show up at my door, un-announced and offer to teach me the Gospel. Hearing those lessons from the sweet innocent naive lips of nineteen year old boys is so refreshing. It's almost like I never left!!
And considering that when I left it was because I'd uncovered hundreds of discrepancies and outright lies that the LDS church had taught, enforced, and promoted for my entire life it created a very complex situation with these sweet naive young men. Of course I had the good grace to not impose my own beliefs on them or reveal the various lies I've discovered. I was polite and kind and accommodating, even offering to feed them. It's clearly not the soldiers that start the wars. They're just following orders. But after the third time you sent the missionaries and a third direct rebuff it seems like perhaps I would have some forgiveness for being a little rude and abrupt with them.
I want to thank you for sending the good looking ones, the fresh faced sweetest missionaries to my door. It's much harder to look those sweet children in the eye and tell them what I really think, especially knowing that they are facing enormous pressure to fulfill a quota of contacts and baptisms and face enormous rejection every day of their tedious mission.
To the elderly LDS missionaries, I want to thank you for your long hours in the winter of your life when you should be enjoying time with your grandkids and traveling the world. Thankyou for being at every public venue handing out your phamplets and being so nice and sweet. You send a message that if one devotes a lifetime to the LDS church and all their tithes, all their time and energy and talents that they too can someday sit at a booth and give away advertizements for something no one wants. Thankyou for keeping the bathrooms at Cove Fort so clean. Thankyou for keeping J.C. Penny and Mr. Mac in business. Thankyou for renting your homes out to BYU college kids who get a beagle puppy the minute you get on the plane to Africa.
To the LDS school teacher that approaches the inactive or non-LDS child in her class and rewards them for showing interest in the church, thankyou for showing that church and state don't always have to be separate. My child needs to learn this early so that he won't be so disappointed when he finds out that many of his local legislators, from judges to Senators are all part of the LDS network and work tirelessly to make sure LDS standards and rules are enforced throughout the nation. I'd hate for my child to think he grew up in a nation where freedom FROM religion was genuinely respected. It would create way too much frustration in him later on in life as he sees the church insert itself into every branch of government.
Thankyou LDS church on behalf of people of every race, color, and gender orientation. You show by your extreme devotion to preventing equality for women, for blacks and Hispanics, and for the GLBT community that you have enormous power and money at your disposal and can buy elections, manipulate the press, and coerce politicians. Many people in the United States have the silly illusion that as Citizens they should have equal rights but thanks to the LDS church and other groups like them, those rights can be limited, denied, and taken away. You show that "We really can take our nation back" to the 1950's. Where men were men, women stayed home and had babies and got excited about their newest kitchen gadget, and homosexuals and blacks knew enough to stay down and hidden where the God of the Bible intended.
This list would be incomplete if I didn't thank the Temple workers and my own LDS family who never tire of putting my name on the temple prayer list and even go so far as to infer that as soon as I die they'll have me re-baptized and inducted into Mormonism again, regardless of my wishes in mortal life. You show by this massive breach of personal rights and dignity that the Mormon church is above common courtesy and rights to privacy. You show the supreme confidence akin to the man who is sure that the woman who rejected him, had a restraining order taken against him, moved far away, changed her name, went into the witness protection program and hid in a cave to avoid contact really does still love him and when she gets her head on straight will come running back. Now that's optimism!! Thanks for showing that we should never give up. No matter how much someone begs, yells, insists, and seeks legal counsel to enforce, never ever give up.
I understand now why the devoted members can so confidently claim, "they can leave the church, but they can never leave it alone". Your policies, your culture and scriptures, your leadership and laws make it near impossible to ever really leave. In a way, Mormonism is like a tumor and you can cut it out, radiate it to death, poison it, stab it, and throw it down a well but it will find a way to come back and infect every organ in your body until you are consumed.