An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Jumping Ship

For many years I was a reasonably happy Mormon. As a teacher, I had status at a time when few Mormon women in our various wards had college degrees. Then I became stay-at-home mom to a swarm of adorable tots and babies. But life goes on. The adorable tots morphed into gangly adolescents with empty stomachs, loud mouths, rapidly growing feet, and crooked teeth. We needed not just two, but three or four incomes to keep up. I returned to teaching, which I loved, but which left me with no time or social need for church activity. Pressures of church demands on our time and money drained me.

I struggled for years to maintain activity in a church which became a burden. I didn’t know how to quit the only church I knew. Reading Mormon blogs like this  , I find other Mormons struggling as I once did.

To a lesser degree, Mormonism resembles a cult in making it difficult for dissatisfied members to leave. First of all, is the fear factor. Leaving the church not only jeopardizes a member’s chances for salvation, it impacts the whole family’s eternal prospects—and anyone considering such a step must be influenced by Satan.

The second, and possibly more important factor, is that the Mormon lifestyle leaves no time for outside contacts. Sure, Mormons are encouraged to make non-Mormon friends—but only for proselytizing purposes. Except for work colleagues and neighbors—and not even those for Mormons in Utah and parts of Idaho and Arizona—many Mormons have little or no acquaintance with nonmembers of high moral standards who lead fulfilling lives.

Jumping ship before finding a place to land is unwise, and Mormon culture leaves members unaware of other choices. I kept attending church for years thinking it was good for our kids to be involved in church activities, although—in all honestly—only two of the five enjoyed the activities. Even after our kids were grown, I hesitated to visit other churches where I might feel awkward not knowing the protocol.

I encourage Mormons who are happy with their church participation to continue, of course. It’s to those who struggle that I offer a bit of advice: Don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons. Say no to church callings you don’t enjoy and spend time doing something of interest to yourself. Maybe God calls you in a different direction from the rest of your family or ward members.

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