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OPINION: Columnist bids farewell to Utah, culture

staff writer

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 11:12


Several weeks ago, I received a text from an acquaintance asking me if I wanted to hang out. Because this individual had never previously expressed any interest in me, I was surprised, but I responded, “Sure.” As it turned out, he was asking if I wanted to attend an LDS fireside.

   

Shortly before that, I attended a stake conference in Provo for a friend. One speaker announced a serious problem: In the whole of Utah County, there are several thousand Utahns who are not LDS.

   

“Bring them to the fold,” he said. “That is far too many.”

   

Throughout my time writing as a columnist for the Statesman, I have been asked these questions more times than I can count: “You’re angry, aren’t you?” “Do you hate the LDS Church?” “You have a serious bone to pick with the Mormons, don’t you?”

   

Yes, yes and yes.

   

These are difficult questions with difficult answers. Explaining what it’s like to be an ex-Mormon is complicated and fraught with emotional hang-ups. Explaining how something that makes you happy also makes me miserable is almost impossible: Even more difficult is reassuring you that I know that the Mormon Church is not true as equally as you know it is. I’m going to try anyway.

   

One of the primary reasons being an ex-Mormon is difficult is illustrated in the first example I gave: Somebody who had zero interest in my personality invited me to Church functions. Because a fundamental part of the Mormon doctrine is the recruiting of non-members, this is a fairly common occurrence. But if all you can see in me is the potential for bringing a lost individual salvation, it cheapens our relationship and demeans your intentions — and any ex-Mormon can tell you how it feels to be ignored except for spiritual invitations.

   

We’d actually prefer to be let alone completely. But, as the second example illustrates, that doesn’t happen because the Mormon Church is everywhere. There is absolutely no getting away from it here. Pictures of Caucasian Jesus hang in every window. Missionaries are sent by neighbors who have never taken the trouble to meet me.  My friend group, my dating pool and my entire college experience is marginalized because I am not Mormon. The constant exposure is incredibly frustrating.

   

This is compounded by another common experience many ex-Mormons share: ostracization from family and friends. Often in sacrament meeting, stories are told in which individuals overcome extreme familial hardships when joining the Mormon Church and just can’t understand why their families don’t accept the transition. These individuals are made out as martyrs who are unjustly punished for making a decision that brings them happiness.

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6 comments

Lauren
Wed Feb 6 2013 13:42
Liz, I have been a reader of your columns for years now. I feel like I know you personally, although we have never met. I've experienced a range of emotions in reaction to some of your views, but now, I can't help but feel sorry for you. The pity has absolutely nothing to do with what you or I believe.

Here's why I am so sorry for you. You claim open mindedness, but the only theme I am getting from this column is unmasked bitterness and hate. You preach tolerance, and you idealize a better world sans Mormons. But you are only adding to the abundance of hate all around us with your words. Why do you say hateful things when the world is already so full of it? Why must you feed on intolerance, when intolerance is the poison of our society? Yes, you are intolerant too, yours just happens to be a different brand than most Utahns.

I wish you happiness in your post-graduate journey. But I'm also fearful that this anger you are carrying will only bring you down. The church has caused you pain, and you stick firmly to your guns. But you'll soon find that you'll never be able to live a happy life if you are steeped in bitterness. If you're not careful, you'll be unhappier than those you fight against. Is that what you really want? Let it go. Use your writing for something that is going to add something to the world instead of polluting it with anger and resentment (an argument against anything is fine, but when written in wrath you are no better than those who turn up their noses at you). You'll find a better life if you focus your attention on building your own life instead of bringing others down.

Anonymous
Sat Feb 2 2013 22:53
As an ex Mormon and atheist living in Logan, I must wonder why we can't move past stupid shit like this. I agree with the writer that it is difficult being a non-Mormon in UT, but I do have to say looking past religious differences I have found many Mormon friends in the area. Sure I am judged at times, but I have my non-LDS friends to go the the bar and have a good time. I agree these are few and far between. My dating pool is very limited and admittedly I sometimes meet intolerant Mormons, but I find in general that people are people. I feel your pain, but I would say that having "a bone to pick" only makes you seem hateful in the eyes of those who disagree. The only way to make your viewpoint attractive to anyone is by being the likable, accepting individual.
Anonymous
Sat Dec 8 2012 19:39
As another anti-Mormon creative writer for the statesman comes and goes I am a little disappointed. We will never get to hear Ms Emery extol the virtues of shooting heroin, disparaging the Church's new "gay relations," website as another form of homophobia, or reiterating/recycling any other boilerplate church topic.

I can't be alone in wondering where (rehab) Ms Emery will be in 5-10 years...I know I want to see where her "creative writing" career takes her. Now that Liz is joining the ranks of graduating liberal neophytes, it may not be long before she realizes one of the great ironies I have seen time and again. Some contemporary "liberals" are some of the most closed minded, idiotic, authoritarians out there, rivaling any conservative.

It may seem that you have more in common with this "closed-minded culture," than you are willing to admit. Liz, good luck, I hope your future writing endeavors have a little more substance to them. Liz, call us...maybe.

Atarb
Sat Dec 8 2012 14:29
See above comment to refute above comment.
Anonymous
Fri Dec 7 2012 12:19
Well, I guess this settles the old argument of whether Liz's bias is really anti-Mormon ... or whether she just intends to enlighten and add to understanding and present another view blah blah blah. Yup. Issues abound in this one. Good luck and fare-thee-well.
Anonymous
Thu Dec 6 2012 17:10
"Sometimes, ex-Mormons are told to leave Utah if we hate it so much. But if my Church history isn't much mistaken, it was the Mormons themselves not long ago that were systematically purged from entire states because they believed differently."

What a laughable, ignorant analogy. You are free to leave or stay in Utah as you please. Nobody has forced you to attend USU or to live in Logan, just as nobody will kill you unless you leave. The extermination order in Missouri and the murder of LDS pioneers is so far beyond you being annoyed at Mormons inviting you to activities that it shows just how far beyond logic your intolerance and hate has taken you.

Good riddance.





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