Walter Kirn, the National Correspondent at The New Republic, writes a poignant story of becoming a Mormon and then renouncing the religion. The fresh American start promised by the Church of Latter Day Saints “didn’t turn out like that”:
My stated excuse for sneaking away from Mormonism was skepticism about its doctrines, but I’d learned that most Mormons don’t grasp all the teachings of Joseph Smith—nor do they credit all the ones they do grasp. After the bus trip to Eden, holy Missouri never came up again in conversation. As for the future temple in Independence, I found out that the spot where Smith said it would rise belonged to a Mormon splinter sect with a U.S. membership of about 1,000. The “sacred underwear”? It was underwear. Everyone wears it, so why not make it sacred? Why not make everything sacred? It is, in some ways. And most sacred of all are people, not wondrous stories, whose job is to help people feel their sacredness. Sometimes the stories don’t work, or they stop working. Forget about them; find others. Revise. Refocus. A church is the people in it, and their errors. The errors they make while striving to get things right.
But I didn’t have the patience, or the humility. I wasn’t a son of stubborn pioneers. I was the son of the lawyer on the plane who’d suffered the breakdown I thought I could avoid. I left the Church as abruptly as I’d entered it. No formalities, no apologies, no goodbyes.
Highly recommend reading in its entirety. If you’re wondering what else Walter Kirn is also known for: writing the book Up in the Air, which inspired a film of the same name starring George Clooney. It’s an excellent film.