The Conservative Atheist: My journey out of Mormonism and into a new life without any gods
The compelling story of a gangly, awkward Mormon girl breaking free from her carefully planned life and afterlife. Journey with her as she steps off the garden path and explores the most forbidden ideas.
The Conservative Atheist is a coming of age story steeped with the perils and pressures of belonging to the most demanding religion in America. See how one brave person learned to trust herself while immersed in an environment where everyone around her treated independent thought with vitriol and hate.
If you’ve ever boiled over with anger at a belief system and felt there was no way past, you need to read this book. If you’ve ever worried about the impact your unorthodox thoughts would have on loving friends and devoted family, you need to read this book. If you want a life filled with daily joy that can come after you’ve healed from spiritual abuse, you need to read this book. See how to properly deal with bizarre claims based on ancient customs while avoiding being a militant who forces views on others.
Travel with Cathy on her journey of discovery as she joins the chorus of voices of those who have found the courage to leave the prison of faith for a more authentic life.
Active Mormons who prefer to never have their faith challenged should avoid Cathy’s story. If you’ve bought into the false promise of freedom that comes from tightly closing your mind to anything that refuses to toe the very narrow line of orthodox Mormonism, then you have been warned in advance that merely reading this book could get you in trouble with Church authorities.
Fifty years, it took, and I’m still working it all out – who knew? As a child my path seemed to be clearly laid out for me, with no deviations allowed, not just until my death, but for, literally, an infinite amount of time after that. I found that comforting, to a degree, as many people do, but at the same time I could not help but fret constantly – what if I made a mistake and somehow screwed it all up? How could I possibly understand the supposedly eternal ramifications of what I was being taught and how I was to act?
It took far too long to learn to trust myself and leave behind the indoctrination and social structure I was so accustomed to. It has been a joyful journey, as you will see, but it has not been without its pitfalls and pressures. I felt compelled to write about my journey, but the concern over distressing friends and family caused me to stall on the project.
After experiencing unbelievable vitriol and hateful comments from people I know and strangers online I realized that, although I do own my story, I initially needed to publish it under an assumed name in order to protect me, and my family, from frightening and hostile behaviors. I have now published it under my own name and will take my lumps – it’s worth it. I decided to also change some pertinent details with regard to individuals, events, conversations, and so forth. I am remaining as true to my story as I can without causing undue hardship or stress to others, but some information isn’t necessary to the overall picture.
You will see a fair amount of anger in this book, directed at both the LDS church and all religions in general. I have worked through most of this anger by now, though it boils over still from time to time. Be assured, though, that I am happier than I have ever been now and my life is joyful every day. It has been a healing process, one both fulfilling and painful, and I do not regret a moment of it. For far too long I accorded respect to those in any religion who continue to hold fast to their faith, but, more and more, I’m seeing the incredible damage religion can and does do in peoples’ lives. Mormonism is one of the worst – it tears families apart and leaders are all too happy to aid and abet that. The respect I had, therefore, is now gone. I’ll never be a militant atheist, forcing my views on people and demanding removal of public crosses and such, but at the same time I will not treat with undue courtesy ridiculous and bizarre claims based on ancient customs any more.
One last caveat. This is not, by any stretch, a definitive discussion about L.D.S. doctrine – in no way do I pretend to be any sort of expert. I have done a great deal of reading, studying, and thinking, and I am firm in my beliefs and opinions, but this is more a story of an often insecure, deeply flawed, sometimes silly, always curious girl who yearns for truth and authenticity. There are a plethora of books, articles, blogs, and online groups available for those who want to delve into the history of any religion, so I felt no need to attempt a comprehensive argument against any particular faith or way of life. It is just my story. Any errors in recall or views about people and events are mine alone and I take responsibility for those.
Members of the LDS church – I feel it fair to warn you that this will indeed be classified as anti-Mormon material. I would love for you to read it and gain a new perspective on the religion that so dominates and controls your life, but if you value your membership and temple recommend it is best you do not. Doing so, and admitting it to church authorities, could be problematic. Too many church members avoid “anti-Mormon” material while failing to see the irony in a “church” that promises freedom, yet aggressively pursues and punishes those who refuse to toe the line. This book won’t be read by any church authorities, I’m sure, but if you’re honest with yourself and them, and admit to reading a book such as this, be assured you will be answering for it. All the more reason to read it, in my opinion, but that’s just me.
I wish I could remember what compelled me to do the sinful deed. I had headed home early from a family fishing trip, due to some school obligations I needed to take care of. I got them done quickly and found myself with some free time on my hands. Why I chose this time over other times isn’t clear, but in any case, I made the decision and risked being struck by lightning (I thought).
I looked at ex-mormon sites.
Yes, it’s true, and believe me, it felt…weird. Weird, wrong, and very sinful. I had been deeply indoctrinated to never expose myself to anti-mormon literature in any way. Indeed, my very church membership and ability to keep the recommend I needed to attend the temple depended on my determination to steer clear of Satan-driven material. For some reason this day, though, all that was set aside, albeit with some misgivings for my physical welfare.
I don’t recall where I started, but a Google search turned up a number of sites for me to view. I quickly found my way to exmormon.org and suddenly…everything was different. At first glance I was appalled at the sometimes profane or mocking manner individuals on that site aimed towards the church, but in reading further, and it only took minutes, a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I read faster..and faster…I gobbled it up.
After more than 45 years in the church, tens of thousands of meetings of every kind, musical performances in almost every meeting possible in the church, a short stint in a Mormon-based performing and touring company, thousands and thousands of hours listening to lesson materials, studying scriptures (albeit very reluctantly), early morning Seminary, family home evenings, committees, bishops interviews, visiting teaching, cub scout leadership positions, service projects, Primary meetings, Den meetings, tithing paid, friendships made and lost, and never considering anything else with regard to religion, ever…
I was done.
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