Why I Don’t Go

I read this great editorial about Christianity going off the rails and then the Missionaries came over tonight. That, on top of the fact that I’m on a panel at SxSW next year about spirituality and have been thinking about my relationship with the church for a while, has led me to finally write this post. I haven’t been going to church for a while. Neither have Jen or the boys. Partly, it was a habit we broke with a new baby, and then with a messed up ankle, travel and other convenient excuses, like having to go back to a congregation we were never that comfortable in the first time we attended (short version: when we first moved to Sterling we lived in an apartment and were in the Sterling Park Ward – when we bought our house, we were in the Ashburn Ward – they re-organized the Stake and we were thrown back in Sterling Park). Jen and I talked about it several times, and we made several attempts to go back, but those attempts never stuck. Now it’s been several months, and we haven’t been back, and that’s what leads me to this.
I don’t like going to church. I don’t like what’s become of it. Just like the editorial states (which made me say “Amen, brother!” out loud even thought I was alone), I feel like the church has slowly slid to the Right. The members of the church have aligned themselves with the same fundamentalist evangelicals who a generation before wrote horrible anti-Mormon literature, told unspeakable lies about our beliefs and were pretty much downright ugly. Now, they’re right there with Falwell, Dobson, Robertson and the rest of the pious idiots on the Right trying to take rights away from people and preaching hate instead of love and empathy. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how members of a church that was persecuted by religious zealots in Congress in the late 1800’s, and forced to leave the United States to find peace, could support the same kind of bigotry today when it comes to things like gay marriage. The straw for me was when a letter was read from the pulpit before the Senate voted on the gay marriage amendment asking members to call their senator and “ask them to do what you think is best.” The vote was doomed from the start and even the senators who supported it knew it. It was a purely political play in an election year aimed squarely at shoring up support from the Religious Right. That the leaders of the Church either didn’t realize that, or worse, embraced it, was too much for me.
There are other reasons that I’m not ready to talk about yet. When I am, they’ll show up on the blog too.
I thought it would be harder to slip away. I thought it would be harder to give up a habit I’ve had my entire life of going to church every Sunday. It really hasn’t been. In fact, I don’t really miss it at all. I don’t know how Jen feels. We haven’t talked about it in a little while, and, as always, I’m only speaking for myself here.
I don’t know what I believe any more, and that’s the only thing that’s currently troubling me. If I don’t go to church, I’m a “bad” Mormon. If I’m already a bad member of the church, what comes next? How far does the line slide? What do I believe?
I’m not in a huge hurry to figure it out, but when I do, I’ll let you know.

5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Go”

  1. I’m one of the lapsed Jews I know, and I’ll admit that I don’t know alot about the Mormon church, so I’m in no position to give advice, but I do know this: faith and belief don’t live in a building, and they aren’t things that need to be ritual to be true. As with most things, if you feel that you’re being true to yourself and what you believe in, then you’re a good Mormon (or Jew, or…whatever).

  2. Kevin
    You sound like you’re about to take a fantastic journey and I’m going to be looking to see where you go
    I’m very much christian and about 13 years ago I looked at the faith I grew up in and the people in it and what I ended up with has been phenomenal. I let go of some of it and some of it I built on., and that combination gave me a life I would have never dreamed possibe.
    Don’t ditch it all. The things in it that don’t make sense to you, probably don’t make sense because they’ve been interpreted wrong. The founders of the faith are the ones who had it right. They started it. They had it right. Thats who we should look to for understanding. The people who promote it today probably have it wrong.
    The journey in getting back to the orignal is awesome. Atleast thats what my experience has been. The things they “capitolize” on today in the christian commmunity , were never capitolized on by the fouding fathers and thats who I now have developed a very fond apprectiation for. The fouding fathers of most faiths were giants. These people today just want the stature of the founding fathers. They don’t care much for what they stood for
    Check out your religious roots. You’ll probably love them a lot more than what you see on the branches..
    Also:
    I must say I really enjoy talking to people much more who have
    departed from their churches and take their spirtual belifs personaly, than those who go to church regularly and don’t know didily about the focus of the founding fathers of their faith. What are they in these “faiths” for
    Looking to hear from you
    Karl

  3. (Don’t go to my site, it hasn’t been touched in about 18 months).
    Well, I was debating on whether or not to respond to your post or not. I hopped on your site looking for your picture of your broken foot and still haven’t found it 🙁 But I did find this post regarding why you don’t go. It is interesting and I have to say that I have had some of the same issues before. God gave us the freedom to choose, why should government or any other group take that right away from us? The problem with that is that people don’t always know what is best for themselves. Take suicide for example, Why is it illegal? It doesn’t hurt anyone escept the person dong it. But it is illegal because government is trying to protect us from ourselves. I’m not saying that there should be a law or there shouldn’t. Government isn’t our parents and it isn’t our God so it shouldn’t be allowed to control everything we do and some things are personal decisions. However church is a little different. As you know the LDS church says it holds the ‘Fulness of the Gospel’ and is directed by Christ himself through apostles and prophets. If this is true then what you have to ask yourself is if you are willing to do what you need to do to return to your Heavenly Father. I was going over my mission notes on mission conferences, etc that I had put together and one note that come up more often then not is ‘God doesn’t ask for your opinion, only your obedience.’ This is hard to do sometimes as we thing we know what is best for ourselves better then God does. I can honestly tell you that this is not true. As much as we do know about ourselves he knows a lot more about us and what we need.
    About the ward and not feeling welcome, I can tell you that I myself have been there before, I never did feel part of the Ashburn ward. Monique and I didn’t go several sundays and you’re right, it is easy not to go. It is easy not to read the scriptures and it is easy not to say prayers and it is easy to tell Bro. Nielson, when he calls you last minute, that you can’t go out with the missionaries. But the easiest road isn’t always the best (most of the time it isn’t). And when you follow the harder road you gain strength and you get blessing.
    I’m not trying to lecture and I hope that I’m not coming off that way. I appreciate your honestly but felt it my obligation to respond to it. Thanks for taking the time to read this, it turned out way longer then I had originally planned.

  4. Of course, I read your ending comments in the other direction – like, now you’ve started walking away, what’s to stop you keep on walking? And I can almost feel you feeling that there’s nothing to stop you. So I’d say, keep on walking. Walk away from religion, walk far far away from it. Then you’ll find your own belief system. Then no-one can tell you what to believe or what day of the week to believe it on. And you may find that believing in the world and the people in it is far far more powerful than any constructed religion the world has to offer. Or that the world is a religion, it just don’t have gods and demons with names. That can be so good, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You know yourself.
    On the other hand, I may have misread you. But it looks like you’re starting a journey and it looks like a good one. Enjoy.

  5. Kevin, you know I’m there with you. More than you might think. I’m looking forward to the next few months preparing our panel and especially being able to get to know you better. As much as I love talking web standards, etc., with you, this is much deeper stuff and we all need good friends to help us with it.

Leave a Reply