Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm being stalked

I'm being stalked by the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or, more commonly known as Mormons. Now, if you don't know the details of my life in the church, you can click right there on the side bar on the label "religion". I think it was even the first post about religion that I wrote. The story in a nutshell - I was Mormon and Bill was not. I was told to choose The Church or choose Bill because I couldn't have both (because we couldn't get married in the temple). I left The Church and since then have become very anti-organized religion, ultimately resulting in my agnostic beliefs.

Since leaving The Church, I've been tracked and followed all over the country. I left The Church when we lived in Vegas and never contacted them from that point on. We moved to Portland, Denver and two different houses in the town we live in now. In each place, I've had members of The Church (Home Teachers, Visiting Teachers, Missionaries) come by to get me to come back. It's partly my fault because I haven't had my name removed from the records, so technically I'm considered "inactive" in their eyes. It's been about 12 years since I left and just last week I got a letter from a clerk in the Ward I "should" belong to.

This letter tells me what time services are being held in the ward and it came with my Individual Ordinance Summary attached - basically all of my personal information relating to the church (my maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, baptism date, confirmation date, my parents names and birth dates, Bill's name, and various addresses I've lived at). The kicker was the quote inserted from the current Prophet, Thomas S. Monson from the April 2008 Conference:

"Change for the better can come to all. Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor - to come back. Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints.

In the private sanctuary of one's own conscience lies that spirit, that determination to cast off the old person and to measure up to the stature of true potential. In this spirit, we again issue that heartfelt invitation: Come back. We reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship.

To those who are wounded in the spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears. Take literally the Lord's invitation, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'
"


I put the letter down on the kitchen counter and sighed. Really? This can't be serious. Were they calling my bluff 12 years later? First I was told to make a choice - I did and now they are pretty much saying "oh, never mind - come back. It doesn't matter what choice you made (we'll help you change that choice)". Clearly they know Bill is not a member and that unless he converts (which he will not do), we will never reach The Church's ultimate goal - being together forever in the Celestial Kingdom.

What a bunch of bull shit.

Honestly, I think their membership numbers are dropping. I made a facebook status update half joking about being stalked, when really, it's pretty true. I've been followed for over 12 years without me giving them any information. Kind of scary, really. And I will never go back. My life is honestly so much better without being under the control of The Church.

I can say what I want to say, wear what I want to wear, eat and drink what I want to drink, watch the movies I want to watch, pretty much do everything I enjoy without having to repent because I drank coffee at breakfast or had a beer at dinner. I can be the independent free-thinker that I am and not have to be subservient to the leadership of the Priesthood. I can teach my children to be critical thinkers and not just to accept what they are told. I can accept my friends (or family) as who they are, different religion or different lifestyle. I don't have to constantly proselytize trying to convert non-members that I come across. I won't have to tithe 10% of my income (which is extortion, really - pay your tithing or you will not have your temple recommend and you will not achieve salvation).

Not only do I have free-will, I have freedom.

And that's just the surface. I've studied the scriptures for years. I've read them all - Bible (both new and old testament), Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Convents. I've read hundreds of other Church publications, been to camps, seminars, gave talks during Sacrament meetings and tried my best to be a missionary, spreading the word and trying to convert non-members. I know enough to know that this is not the "One and Only True Church".

I don't believe that other people will live out their Eternal Life in purgatory because they believed something different, or that their interpretation of God is not the same. I don't believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I don't believe that there is a Prophet, or that leaders in The Church are inspired by God. I don't believe that a person's salvation is dependent on the actions (or inaction) of others. I don't believe in hereditary religion.

I believe that organized religion, in general, is corrupt.

Really, I could go on with this forever without even getting into the technical theory of it all. But, I think it's time I get on it to remove my name from their records before I have to have this conversation, again, with The Church members.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Numbers are not dropping. 13 million strong and growing every day. However, you are as entitled to your own opinions and beliefs as members of the church are. They believe they are trying to help you, and you are free to believe the things you wrote in this post. That's the beauty of living in this country.

Kristin said...

Anonymous,

That is an excellent point. I am entitled to my beliefs just as much as the LDS are entitled to theirs.

Never in a million years would I have the gall to sit with an active LDS member and begin to tell them with such fervor why they should leave the church. Because I respect that that is their belief and it is not my business to tell them otherwise.

Religion, whatever it may be, is a personal choice.

But I can't even begin to count how many times the coin has been flipped, where a member that I know is well aware of my feelings, yet they are disregarded and I'm being coerced to come back to church. Not only myself, but there have been instances (where once again, people are aware of our beliefs) and Bill has even been cornered and pressured to go to church.

The LDS are the only people that I know who are so intense on pressing their beliefs on others. I know! I was doing it myself!!

They may believe they are trying to help, but did I ask for help? In the 12 years that I've been gone, have I ever even hinted that I was interested in returning? No. What makes them think I need help? Why can't I get the same respect that I give ANY other person of a different religion that my beliefs have changed?

Wouldn't it be respectful of my beliefs if they accepted my change of heart 12 years ago rather than constantly trying to change it?

Jenny said...

All I know is that they lost me forever when two days after Grandma Nancy died the bishop and visiting missionaries told me I would never see her again... I was fourteen years old.

Lame.

Casey, Tracey, and Kids said...

Kristin,

Personal question for you(I can ask you, right?)...When you were an "active-member"-did you believe in it all; then?

Jenny...I had no idea you were told that! That is horrible and untrue.

Alicia said...

I have a good friend who was raised Mormon and stopped practicing years ago. His wife is not Mormon either. He says the LDS is a cult. So now I know 2 people who feel the LDS has cult tendencies! Remove your name. It's harassment if you ask me!

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

Seriously I we are stalked to. Luke grew up in the church but hasn't been an active believing member for as long as I have known him.

Somehow the church found Luke's unlisted phone number and calls him every few months to try to pressure him into having a home teacher over and then they found us at our new house too.

The last time we had missionary's knock on our door Luk, very very politely told them we were not interested and asked that they not come back and do you know what they said? Something to the effect of We are sorry to hear that but if you really don't want us to come to your house you have to go fill out a form at the church stating that you don't want up coming to your house.

Um hello, that is ridiculous. If I say I don't want you to come to my house that should be the end of it. I shouldn't have to fill out a form just so you will stop hounding me!

I am all for people believing what they want as long as it poses no harm to others and they don't force their beliefs on me.

Wow that was a long comment!

Kristin said...

Tracey,

At the time, I completely believed in the church. They provided the security and structure that I didn't have growing up. There was also the community and friendship that was a bright part in my life. In surviving a living hell, the church was my escape and hope for normalcy.

However, religion is more than security and structure, community and friendship.

I started to think about things after I received my Patriarchal Blessing, when after we left, an addendum had to be made because the Patriarch neglected to mention my lineage - one of the main points of a blessing. This was supposed to be a sacred blessing from the Lord and it was royally screwed up.

Then during Bill's conversion process it really clicked with me that things were wrong. The pressure I was putting on Bill to join and to change, the pressure the church was putting on me to get him to convert, the pressure my LDS co-workers added - it was insane. And very, very, wrong.

Now years later of being out and working in sales-type industries, I can see certain tactics and really, sales tricks, that the churches uses to convert non-members.

Anonymous said...

Far from being the "only" church that tries to press their belief on others, they are but one of many. "Born again" sects, Baptists, etc. etc. They all will try to convince you. You can have your name removed from the roles. Yes, there is paperwork, but it can be done. You can give up your membership.
It is not harrasement to visit you. And you have every right to shut the door and not listen to them. This church is not a cult, and doesn't separate you from your family when you join as most cults do. This church has done mountains of good for people. Members or not. Those that run it are human. They can make mistakes as we all do. To say you are being stalked is overstated. Yes, because you are a member, they will keep records of where you are, and how to contact you. This is not stalking, but record keeping. If you truly don't want contact, do something about it.

Kristin said...

Maybe not the only church, but the only church I've had experience with to this degree. I've had other members of different churches come by before - a few months ago it was an elderly couple who wanted to read me scripture and give me some literature. I politely let them read and nicely declined their pamphlets. They got the hint that I wasn't interested and thanked me for being nice about it. They accepted my stance and it was a pleasant interaction.

I have no issue with people living the beliefs they hold - that's not the problem here. It's understanding that once I decline (or twice, three time, even!) that my choice is respected.

My feelings about the LDS church might be somewhat different if my interactions were the same - accept that my beliefs have changed and we go along our merry ways rather than continually trying to change my views - over the course of 12 years.

The LDS are very good at record keeping - they even had information about Bill on my Ordinance Summary. It's a shame that a simple note on those records about not returning can't be made and a long drawn-out process has to be done to get them to stop.

I do not think that using the term "stalking" is overstated:

Main Entry: 2stalk
Function: verb

intransitive verb 1 : to pursue quarry or prey stealthily

Seems to be the right use of the verb to me.

mygodcanbeatupyours said...

I already thought the LDS was fascinating, Kristin, as I ready your post I'm even more intrigued.

I'm also insulted, the Catholic Church has made zero effort stalking me. I actually think they were glad I left. Bastards.

Ashley said...

I'm pretty amazed that when people want to defend something, they have to remain anonymous. If you're so proud and defensive of your church, then pull up your big kid panties and talk about it like an adult. I can't imagine Kristin getting hateful to someone who makes an effort to put themselves out there.

Anyways.

I of course agree with you Kristin, and I know we've talked about it before. BUT. The whole time I've lived out here (4 years or so), I've had a difficult time making friends that I trusted, as this small town thing is totally foreign to me. My visiting teachers asked to visit, and I reluctantly said yes. But now, I have 4 of the best girl friends I've had in a looooong time. They're all active, but they're so nice and sweet and helpful and caring, etc. They came along at just the right time, and have helped me out so much. They never ever ever pressure me about going to church, never even bring it up. Their husbands are amazing and come help me with the yard or whatever. They include me in family dinners, (I was invited to 2 separate ones just for thanksgiving), parties, and just to hang out. Their kids love Paisley, and she in turn loves them. They don't judge me when I wear my short skirts/shorts, nose ring, pink hair, etc.

I don't know what my point is, just that I've been really impressed the past few months with my new friends. And in no way do I want to go back to church!!!

Ashley said...

Forgot to mention- you can get the missionaries to do your yardwork, and then they can't even come in your house (as long as Bill isn't there)!