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.