Last week, I came across a news article entitled, Gay Students vs. BYU Honor Code (archived here), which was an editorial showcasing three cases of how gay students were being discriminated against by LDS-owned Brigham Young University’s honor code. I found this article to be interesting since it touched on a few of the same issues that I have with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Church”).
After reading the article, I made the decision to share it on Twitter and Facebook (something I do regularly with articles I read). After clicking the “share” button, it asked me to add my own comments to the link, so I wrote the following:
Post-secondary education should be about challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, innovation, exploring the world with new eyes, and free-thinking. Yet BYU’s Honor Code represses all of that, and is simply “about controlling the production of the next generation of Mormons”
(Note the last line being a quotation from the article itself.)
I knew that what I wrote would be provocative – especially for my LDS family and friends who would be certain to see it on Facebook – but this was kind of the point. I wanted the article to get people’s attention, because I feel that such discrimination happens all too frequently and shouldn’t be tolerated, let alone institutionalized, by a prestigious post-secondary institution. At the time, I didn’t expect to get much of a response from posting it on my Facebook wall, seeing as I post numerous other articles on a daily basis, with only a few comments here and there. This one, however, gained a lot more attention than I could have imagined, and turned into a large 4 day debate.
Does God exist? Can we know God? — These are the questions that philosophers have been debating for millennia, but I have only recently started to truly ask myself.
Since I disclosed my disbelief in the LDS Church, I’ve had many friends ask me what my current belief is regarding God in general. My friends are curious if my disbelief is isolated to the LDS Church as an organization, or if it extends to include Christianity or God in its entirety. Because I can’t see how the fallacies of the LDS Church are much different than those of other religious organizations, I’ve made the determination that God (as I have been raised to define Him) is a man-made concept. This has lead me to answer their question by saying I’m an atheist. However, my use of the term atheist, is only based on a simplistic definition. As I continue to read and learn more about philosophy, I find that my friends’ question is more complicated than I originally thought.
Now that a couple of weeks have gone by, since I made the announcement that I was leaving the Church, I thought I’d make some observations about the responses that I’ve received from family and friends.
First off, I’d like to say how grateful I am to the numerous supportive responses that I have received; these have been most kind, and needed in this time of transition. I have had many old friends, as well as distant family members, step up and openly support my decision by commenting on my various Facebook & blog posts. I’ve also been surprised so see how many people I know who have gone through a very similar process in their own lives. I’ve even been discussing some of my own cousins’ exit stories with them, of which I was either not aware, or was only told the Mormon perspective (as many of these events happened while I was much younger). This discussion has brought me closer with my cousins than I ever have been, which is the result I hoped for when releasing my essay.
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