I was raised in the Mormon church. Although my parents weren't active, I feel I was brainwashed. Even after my father passed away early in my life, my mother made sure my brother and I attended church, even though she didn't attend herself. My extended family was staunch, so it was mostly their example and teachings that contributed to my brainwashing.
Growing up, I accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet, but it bothered me that people seemed to worship him. Even at a young age I thought that it was odd. Weren't we only supposed to worship God? Yet some of the adults around me talked like Smith was some kind of god.
It was either the summer after my Junior or Senior year that I feel I gained a testimony. I read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. I felt I received a witness of it's truthfulness. Since it was true, it meant Smith was a prophet and that the Mormon church was true. Or, so the logic went. Looking back now, the witness I received then really wasn't that astounding, and it seems to me now to be more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I went into it having a preconceived notion of the outcome.
I received a patriarchal blessing between high school and going on a mission. That experience should have really opened my eyes back then, but I stuffed away my feelings about it. Stuffing away feelings and thoughts would become a life-long habit, this being one of the first instances. Prior to giving the blessing, the patriarch had me go over to his home and he asked me a few questions and then gave some instructions on how to prepare for the blessing. At the time it didn't seem strange to me, but he insisted that I come alone to the blessing. I was living on my own and hadn't thought of bringing anyone with me, so it didn't seem like a big deal. Since then I came to know that it was rather unusual. When I came for the blessing, I was escorted into the patriarch's office. It was full of books, an antique desk and a small reel-to-reel recorder (it was the 1970's after all.) I sat at the desk in the antique chair, bowed my head and closed my eyes. The patriarch put both of his hands on my head, but almost immediately took one hand off. I heard a drawer open. Of course I opened my eyes. He took a paper from the drawer. He read from the paper and placed it back in the drawer, and placed his other hand back on my head before concluding the blessing. He hadn't even bothered to turn on the tape recorder. Thinking back now I don't recall all the thoughts that were rushing through my head. I didn't confront him about it, even though I was really upset. Leaving his home I thought I should report him to the stake president, but eventually somehow I rationalized everything, even to the point that I did look to the blessing at many points in my life for insight and guidance. It is rather generic, quotes a lot of Mormon church history, and regurgitates what I told the patriarch about my ancestors.
Attending the temple for the first time was confusing. It was unlike anything I expected. I didn’t know what to expect really, but it made me feel embarrassed. It was all so weird to me. Again, I stuffed away my thoughts and feelings. When my mother attended the temple for the first time in 1987, I felt the old embarrassment return. I dreaded that my mother would say something to me about the ceremony. Like all good Mormons, she kept any doubts to herself. I re-experienced that embarrassment when my son attended for the first time in 2004. He seemed to keep any doubts to himself, too.
I grew a lot and gained a lot of valuable experience on my mission. Yes, I was "successful" because of the number of baptisms I had. I went inactive almost immediately upon returning. About five years later I met a single mother and we started dating. We fooled around. She wanted us to talk to our bishops. I found out who mine was and talked with him. He said I shouldn't feel any obligation to marry her. Looking back now, that's the only sensible counsel I received from a bishop at any time in my life. Her bishop said, "God expects you to get married since you've fooled around." I felt I loved her, so we did marry. Seven years and three more kids later, we divorced.
As an adult I had doubts about Smith. Instead of just being uncomfortable with how other people seemed to worship him, I became really uncomfortable with who he was and the things he did. But I kind of swept it all in the corner.
When reading the Book of Mormon there would be times I would read something and have to stop because it didn't seem right. I would just ignore it. As time progressed I heard a lot of the other things that are wrong with the book. Again, I chose to ignore them.
In the Pearl of Great Price it always bothered me that God told Abraham to lie. The Bible version was acceptable to me because Abraham, himself, chose to lie. He was an imperfect person, after all. It wasn't until fairly recently that I became aware of all the problems with the Pearl of Great Price. I don't know how I could have gone so long without knowing.
I am a sinner. Aren't we all? It bothered me that even when I was sinning, God would still bless me. Mormon belief is that to receive the blessing you have to obey the commandment. Yet I wasn't obeying the commandment and I was being blessed. I talked to two bishops at different times about it. One said that there were other people who were praying for me and that was why I was being blessed. That seemed reasonable to me. The other bishop said God was blessing me because He wanted to bless me. I wanted to scream at him, "But I'm not obeying the commandments!"
I am a sinner to the point that I was disfellowshipped from the Mormon church. My bishop said that I needed to receive God's forgiveness and to receive forgiveness from the Mormon church. He explained the process and the restrictions. I've known people who have been disfellowshipped and excommunicated, so I was familiar with it all. But the way he explained it offended me to the core. He said forgiveness from God was between me and Him; and that forgiveness from the Mormon church came from the process and the restrictions. Yes, I agree that I need forgiveness from God, but I don't need forgiveness from a bunch of old men in suits. It was God's laws I violated, not theirs.
Ironically it was the process of my disfellowshipment that brought me to a greater knowledge of the deception and lies of the Mormon church. I was studying to regain a testimony, but I couldn't get it together. It seemed too futile. Instead of reading the Book of Mormon, like my bishop suggested, I started reading books on Mormon history and found sites on the internet. I have had misgivings about the Mormon church all of my life, but I never had the courage to face them. At this time of my life I've found the courage to face them. I've chosen a passive approach to separating from the Mormon church for the time being, but I am happily anticipating the positive changes in my life at age 56.
Last I checked, and this was about five years ago, Joe and "God" are supposed to be up in heaven, judging who can come in and who cannot. I'm fairly certain it is in the D&C, or what I call Joe's Public Diary, but will need to research it further and get back to you on that.
This may explain why people worship him. Also, if you've seen all the new cults springing up and brainwashing their followers to do anything they want to, you'll see that they worship their "prophets" as well.
Sin is only a word used to demean others for doing something that the first party is jealous that the second, third, fourth, etc is able to do. Ie: Masturbate, having sex before marriage, drinking, smoking, and all round having a wonderful time without too many restrictions.
Other than that, welcome to the fold :D Its good to see someone reclaim their brain after such a long ordeal.