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Post-Mormon Community on Campus

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 14:08

A post-Mormon group on campus is designed to provide a new community for those who have left or are currently thinking about leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Jeff Brady, junior studying electrical engineering and current organizer of the USU post-Mormon group.

Leaving the church isn't easy, Brady said. The majority of an LDS member's social network is tied into the church, and once a member has made the decision to leave, both parties tend to feel there is no longer a common ground, Brady said.

This lack of a common ground is mostly theological, Brady said. Many post-Mormons keep their culture because it's what they grew up with and it's what they feel comfortable with, he said. But some post-Mormons feel once they had declared they no longer believed in the LDS church, they were avoided and sometimes snubbed by members of their ward, friends and families, Brady said.

Dave Wind, graduate student in journalism, said growing up in the church is very polarizing.

"You're either in or you're out," Wind said.

Wind, who served an LDS mission, was married in an LDS temple and taught five years at the missionary training school until he said a friend exposed him to "quirky Mormon history," which he eventually discovered was true.

"When it's all said and done," Wind said, "I felt duped."

This feeling is common among members of the post-Mormon community, Wind said.

Torrie Crapo, junior studying technical writing at USU, said she left the church after uncovering information she strongly disagreed with.

"There are things the church doesn't tell you, things they don't want you to know, and I just felt lied to," Crapo said, who said she had been deeply involved with the LDS Church until she was 16.

Ray Sullivan, student at USU and returned missionary from the Utah/Ogden LDS mission, said he understood these concerns and witnessed them numerous times while serving in Utah. Nonmembers struggled to join the LDS Church because they felt they'd been persecuted by LDS members in their community, Sullivan said, and some members left the LDS Church because they felt their personal lives were being judged by members in their ward, and he said that's not what the LDS Church teaches.

Attending a post-Mormon meeting does not mean a person is planning to fight against the LDS Church, said Devin Felix, originator of the USU post-Mormon chapter.

"This is not an anti-Mormon group. It's not anyone's intent to lead people away from Mormonism or mock people for what they believe," Felix said.

Post-Mormon meetings, also known covertly as PM meetings, serve as a support group for former LDS members and a social network for non-Mormon members, Brady said. At these meetings, people can discuss personal experiences or just eat and have a good time. Some people at these meetings are considered closet post-Mormons while others are very open about no longer affiliating with the LDS Church.

The USU post-Mormon group was established in fall of 2006, Felix said. According to postmormon.org, 11 post-Mormon chapters exist in Utah alone, with 29 in various other states and 15 in other countries including Canada, Germany and New Zealand.

Another post-Mormon group students occasionally attend in Logan is the Cache Valley post-Mormon group, Brady said. This group was established in 2002 by Jeff Ricks, who also designed the Web site postmormon.org and has helped to establish numerous post-Mormon chapters in and out of Utah, he said.

Both the USU and Cache Valley post-Mormon groups are welcome to anyone who wishes to attend, Brady said. The USU group meets the first and third Wednesday of every month at 8:30 p.m. in the Hub while the Cache Valley group meets every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. Both groups can be found on postmormon.org, Brady said.

"Leaving the church is a hard thing to do," Crapo said. "I attend meetings because I feel like my story can help people who might be afraid to step out of the Mormon closet and say I don't believe this."

-greg.boyles@aggiemail.usu.edu

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