Today, we had a fun picnic in Farmington, Utah hosted by John Larsen. The name of the picnic was CALM (Community After Leaving Mormonism). Blondie and I had a very enjoyable visit with everyone there. We brought our kids and many of the other families brought their children, too.
We spent most of our time sitting, visiting with others about their experiences in the church and why they are leaving it. Everyone certainly has a story to tell, everything from not receiving answers to prayers, opposition to Proposition 8, or finding church history repulsive. I was fascinated with meeting people and hearing what they had to say.
There was a sad commonality among many of the stories; everyone had difficulties with acceptance from friends and family. I find the breakdown of family relationships so frustrating. Why does this church have to create such a stereotype and cause such a strain on family relationships? This is just another reason why I find religion in general so damaging. Instead of building up family relationships, religions (especially the Mormon Church) tear down family relationships when a family member does not believe. I heard someone at the picnic say about her dad that he had told her, “I don’t want any empty chairs.” He was referring to the afterlife and having missing family members because they were not obedient to the covenant. Just another way to pile on pressure and guilt to family members that might be doubting.
Yesterday, Blondie and I listened to some of John Larsen’s podcasts and one of them was about a Jehovah’s Witness making his way out of that church. Hearing about the way that his family and friends are shunning him now is just heartbreaking. Blondie and I discussed about how we think we might have it bad with our family relationships, but it could be worse trying to come out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Another observation I noticed while visiting at the picnic was whether people have sent in their official resignation letter or not. On our way home, I realized that Blondie and I were the only ones out of everyone that we visited with that had actually sent in our resignation letter. Sending in the letter is such a personal choice and for some people it works and others it does not. For Blondie and me, we wanted that separation that allows us to feel like we are completely free of an organization that we no longer support or believe in. I was very interested in hearing others say that it was not important to them or that they felt like they could not send the letter because it would hurt their family too much. I can certainly understand this since I was very hesitant to send in my letter in fear of how my family would react.
All in all, this was a fun Sunday activity. How great is it to visit and hang out with cool ex-mo friends. These people are some of the coolest and nicest people I have met. Everybody has a story to tell and they are all at various points in their journey out of the church. I also enjoy the idea of losing toxic Mormon friends on Facebook and gaining cool friends that can relate to me with my journey in life.