MY EARLY YEARS
I was BIC at the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City, UT, in June, 1964. My father worked for the Deseret News all my life. I have a brother, Kevin, Sisters, Kailene and Kim, I’m the 4th child (Kristie), and I have a younger brother, Kelly. My dad is Keith and my mom is
Both my parents were BIC and TBM. When I was young we went to Sunday breakfast once or twice with my grandparents (probably on conference Sunday). But that didn’t happen as I grew up. We went to church when the times were split (Sunday school in the morning and Sacrament Meeting in the afternoon). I always hoped that my parents would not remember that we had to go back. Shucks, they always remembered.
Because of the Korean War, my dad went in the army and didn’t get to serve a mission. My two brothers served missions. All of us were married in the Salt Lake Temple to returned missionaries, except my oldest brother who met his wife at BYU. My youngest brother even married a returned missionary sister. All of us grew up true and faithful. Kailene and I had a little wild streak in us as teenagers, but we shaped up when it came time to marry in the lord’s holy temple. The others didn’t deviate and held tight to the iron rod.
All in all, my childhood was fantastic. We were a close family who traveled the U.S. in our camper and truck every summer. My dad loved to tell jokes and we had lots and lots of fun. On my mom’s side we had one polygamist, Daniel Heiner--see link—our line comes from the first wife, Martha Stevens. Daniel married the widow of his deceased brother, like most men were asked to do.
MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN
On June 8, 1984, I married my returned missionary husband, Mark, in the Salt Lake Temple. I was 19 (However, my 20th birthday was one week away. I just thought it would be fun to tell people I was married at 19. I’m not sure why I thought it would be fun.) My husband is 8 years older than me so he was 28 when we married. Yes, I realize that is “old” in the Mormon culture.
Mark and I decided to wait before having a child. Again, that is against Mormonism. In fact, my daughter, Rebecca, was born four days after our 5th Wedding Anniversary. I know that my family and Mark’s family were worried that we had fertility problems. They were so over-come with joy when we finally procreated! Well we disappointed the family by only having two children, by conscious choice! Imagine that! Our 2nd daughter, Rachel, was born--not two years, but three years and three months after Rebecca. (I say this somewhat in jest because it seems that the sanctioned time is two years between children.)
I need to mention that Mark’s family was pretty active. His brother, two years younger, was not very active from his teenage years, however. He’s not been through the temple, but his 2nd wife has him on a short leash and he attends church sometimes. To be honest, I don’t know how often he goes or if he attends all meetings (that I doubt).
Mark and I held various callings. As I mentioned above, Mark was a returned missionary.
I served mainly in the Primary teaching the younger children, I did serve as Primary President for the allotted three-years. I also served the allotted time in the Stake Primary Presidency as 2nd Councilor (who was over the Primary). I served in the nursery a couple of different times. When my daughters were in high school/junior high, I was asked to serve in the Young Women’s Program to track the “Personal Progress” program of the young women of our ward.
Mark served in the Young Men’s / Scouting program, the Elder’s Quorum, Gospel Doctrine teacher (which because of his lessons, Sunday School attendance was up significantly—to levels unheard of…and many inactive people came on occasion when asked by their spouse to attend), and lastly as Sunday School President. Mark was also a member of the ward choir for many years, oh and on the high council. He was well thought of and members predicted he’d be the next bishop—which was always the farthest thing he ever wanted to be. It was not in his genetic makeup. Besides, his gregarious, infectious laugh would not go over well in that position.
Our oldest daughter, Rebecca, was the Poster Child for the Young Women in our ward! She was valiant and a perfect ‘daughter of god.’ (Unbeknownst to me she was attracted to the same sex.)
THINGS BEGAN TO CHANGE
In December 2005 or January 2006, much was starting to change in our lives!
One night at Costco we stopped at the book table. My husband came across the book, “Rough Stone Rolling,” by Richard L. Bushman (We didn’t know at the time, but it is the real story of the man called Joseph Smith). Mark was excited to buy the book because he had been feeling that his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith was waning. He thought that this book would help him strengthen the testimony which he felt was lacking.
Unbeknownst to me, Mark was on a new path which he did not reveal to me right away.
During this same time period, I was in search of full-time employment as my daughters were growing up and I felt it was time that I contribute to the family income. I applied at many places, the church headquarters being one of those places.
One day I was talking to Mark on the phone and told him I had applied at the church office building and we had a good conversation. He reminded me of people in our ward who worked or who had worked for the church and how political it was. So I didn’t pursue working for the church. I never did get a call for an interview and that turned out to be fortuitous because I would’ve had to quit or lose my job.
During 2006 Mark started changing and I didn’t know what had gotten into him. He started being so grouchy about attending church. His attitude about church stuff was almost violent. Again, I was baffled by his change in personality. In the fall of that year Mark was called to serve as Sunday School President. I was happy because I thought this is what he needs to become strong again. In fact our temple recommends were coming up for renewal in a couple of months and I was going to make sure we renewed them.
The time came for us to go to the interview with the bishop. Mark said to me, “How am I going to answer the questions?” I just said, “Lie if you have to. I’m sure others do it.” So that appeased my extremely honest and guilt-ridden husband. He went to that interview and lied his way through it. Then we went to the Stake President and he did the same thing there. I think it was liberating to him to see that he could lie through his teeth and they had no clue. They didn’t have any inspiration that he was telling lies. In fact, they were very complimentary to him and thanked him for being the great person he was.
Finally in the spring of 2007, my wonderful husband spilled the bucket of beans to me and told me all about Joseph Smith’s fairytale religion. He was scared to death to tell me because of all the horror stories on the web about families breaking up.
MY REACTION TO THE FAIRYTALE
I was shocked, to say the least. How could my stalwart husband come to the conclusion that it was all made up?
One very important aspect of my husband’s genetic makeup is his intelligence. He has always been a voracious reader and retains at least 75 percent of what he learns. Mark’s family held him on an all you need to know about the church information pedestal. So when he came to me with this information, I didn’t dismiss it or take it lightly. I knew him well enough to know that he would not give up his religion on hearsay. I knew it was up to me to do my own research.
I started reading, Rough Stone Rolling. I didn’t get very far—just into the first chapter and questions and doubts about the validity of the so called ‘restoration’ started forming in my mind.
The next day I decided to look things up on the web—at my new job.
The site www.wivesofjosephsmith.org which lists all the wives of Joseph Smith was the first site I happened upon.
This just happened to be during the time that polygamist leader of the FLDS Church, Warren Jeffs, was being hunted, tried and convicted by the government.
Within five minutes of going to that website and seeing that list of names, I began thinking to myself, “Joseph Smith is just ike Warren Jeffs!”
My next thought was: “Men like Warren have been around all through history; therefore, Joseph Smith was a man out of the same mold and he’s just like Warren Jeffs!”
Then the foundation of my ‘testimony’ crumbled to the ground. I immediately knew all the historical facts about Joseph Smith were true. He was the mastermind behind the farce and bogus religion known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I realized the church had covered up so much information.
The genie was out of the bottle and I couldn’t put her/him back in.
In fact, that shelf at the back of my mind (where I stored all the church questions) it broke! All those questions fell to the ground never again needing my attention because it was a moot point. I knew that we needed to leave the church. But now, how should we break this information to our daughters?
TELLING OUR CHILDREN
Spring, 2007, the story splits in two pieces. During the time I was trying to figure out how Mark and I were going to broach the subject with our children, Rebecca was going through some of her own discoveries about being a lesbian and feeling the conflict that the church
During the months of March, April, May and June, there was a lot of turmoil going on inside me, inside Mark, inside Rebecca and I believe inside Rachel, too. None of us were communicating verbally about this turmoil (except Mark and I in secret), but there was tension in the house. Rebecca had her own secrets rolling inside her.
Our family actually started missing church. I was serving in the nursery every other week, so I didn’t go on the off weeks. Mark, as Sunday School President, would go and make sure all the classes had a teacher, and then he would come home. Our girls knew something was going on, but didn’t discuss it with us.
Things pretty much broke loose on Sunday, June 17, 2007. Mark and I wanted to go up the canyon for a hike and we wanted Rebecca and Rachel to come with us. I woke them up and they were grouchy teenagers and didn’t want to get up early on a Sunday and go for a hike.
I felt my life unraveling and got very upset—to the point of slamming kitchen cupboard very loudly!!
This got everyone’s attention and they decided to come just to sooth my temper. While on the hike, we actually started talking and opening up. Rebecca was actually first to say that she didn’t know if she believed in the church. Then Mark and I opened up and told them our thoughts and experience over the past year. (p.s. added later: Rachel never was a believer--she doesn't believe in 'magic' and never could understand the miracles of Jesus. So I wasn't surprised when she was happy that she didn't have to go to church anymore.)
HOW LIFE CHANGED
My husband traveled almost weekly for his employment--the bishop noted he was never at ward council, so Mark was called in and released in the late summer/early fall of 2007. Rebecca started college in the fall of 2007 and found the LGBT group on campus, where she finally felt at home (still not known to us).
We had stopped attending church altogether because one day after nursery I went right up to the Primary President and said, “You can consider this my last day.” She answered, “Do you want to tell the Bishop or do you want me to?” I said, “You can.” She gave me a pity hug. I left the building that day and have never been back.
Since Mark had been released, I had quit, and Rebecca was out of high school, Rachel never went back either.
Was this an easy time? No, not really. I did a lot of crying because I had been lied to. I did a lot of crying because the foundation of my existence had crumbled. I cried because I was angry, sad, and happy. I had to experience the cycle of grieving.
Just as I was getting used to this idea of being an apostate, my daughter asked Mark and I to meet with her in our living room. It was a Wednesday night in January 2008 that she told us she was gay. To be honest, it didn’t shock me, for we had come to suspect it. But on the other hand, it shook me up pretty good because Mormonism had brainwashed me into
thinking it was a sin and an abomination. I needed some time to wrap my head around that news. In time I accepted it, and now I couldn’t be happier for her and her partner, Kathy.
I wasn’t sure what to do about our membership. Mark was patient with me because it took quite a while for me to decide to officially resign.
But I got tired of being hounded by people in the ward about our inactivity. We got ‘love notes’ and visits. I couldn’t stand the thought of being on the assigned love list the rest of my life. I knew that if we didn’t resign, they’d come looking for us all the time. The minute I decided it was time to resign, my husband got the paperwork ready and on December 10, 2008, the four of us sent our resignation letter to the church headquarters. January 28th, 2009, we received the letters stating we are no longer members of the church. Later that month, we wrote letters to our parents and to our siblings telling them the news.
WHERE THINGS STAND BETWEEN US AND OUR FAMILIES
Our families, as you can imagine, were very shocked about this news. Mark’s dad actually said, “Son, your problem is you read too much.” (Most parents encourage their children to read. Mark’s dad never reads.)
His not so religious brother called to say, “I could’ve gone my whole life and not heard this.”
I got one short letter from my oldest sister scolding me for this bad decision. No one else even said a word to me. I do not have contact with my family – none at all.
Mark goes and visits his parents on his own every so often, but our attendance at family gatherings on that side have pretty much subsided.
Rebecca, Rachel and I did not go to Christmas Day activities at his mom’s house this past year. They suspect that Rebecca is gay, but they don’t have proof. We have not told the family this news because, frankly, we do not feel they are privileged enough to have that special part of our lives.
HOW WE ARE DOING
This is the happiest we’ve ever been. We still have moments of anger when we think of the time and money wasted for 40-50 years. We feel more connected to the human race than we ever did before.
We will remain free of religious ties the rest of our lives. We will support gay marriage! We will support and celebrate the uniqueness of individuals. We will always search for truth for us! We will always encourage learning!