Also, I wanted to want myself to stay even though:
The church taught a lot of racist things in its infancy, all the way up to the 1970's and now just blames its racism on "God."
To borrow a line from the show "Escaping Polygamy" - the origins of polygamy (which started with Joseph Smith) was not about religion, it was all about sex. And the church tries to hide it by saying that it was simply a commandment from God, and its reasons changed from time to time.
In the church's infancy, it was claimed that polygamy was "commanded" for men to obtain the highest order of Heaven.
Their current reasons are 1) There were many widows (and single) women that needed taken care of, so the men that were already married had married him. 2) To bring forth many upon many children born in the gospel.
And there was the Book of Mormon. A book that had plagiarized "Views of the Hebrews" book, among other books.
Despite all of this, I talked myself in staying in the church. Even though it was not true. As I mentioned in my first post, I tried to justify things by saying, "So the church has an ugly history (with the Priesthood Ban, Polygamy, Mountain Meadows Massacre, etc.), but America does too (Slavery, Native Americans getting slaughtered. Native American women being raped, etc.), and we celebrate every year and sing songs about how great the country is, and how proud we are to be American. So I will stay." But looking back, it was fear talking, as Mormonism was a safe haven for me for over a decade.
I would miss church the Sunday when my shelf was in extreme danger of collapsing, but I thought that I'd go to Single Adult FHE (Family Home Evening) after work anyway...mainly to get out of the house.
FHE would be held at the Single Adult representative's (husband and wife) home. On my way there, I had all of these conflicting feelings, but tried to settle them.
They would not be settled as the evening went on.
One of the SA representatives (which was my former home teacher and bishop) would talk about George Washington and others, I was tempted to blurt out "How do you feel about him owning slaves?" but I knew that would open another can of worms. He also showed a book of names of historical figures that had indexing(?) done for them.
For some reason this disturbed me.
Things just went downhill from there. My home teacher (who will remain nameless) said that he felt inspired to switch lessons, and he was going to give a lesson from The Book of Mormon, in the section of 1st Nephi, Chapter 13. A section that I've had issues with over the years, but tried my best to ignore them.
So we'd take turns reading them, I tried my best to fight the negative feelings that I had while reading those lines. This one in particular:
And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.1 Nephi 13:12Number 1) I had a hard time believing that God (the Mormon God no less) selected Christopher Columbus, spoke to him and led him to the Americas. Also The Book of Mormon's introduction is wrong - Columbus did not discover America. He took a wrong turn and found himself in the Caribbean and at one point thought he was in India. And we know that Leif Erikson had "discovered" the continent of North America, not Columbus.
Number 2) Now the Natives (Arawak Tribe if I read correctly) were good to him. Columbus even said so him his journals. Things ended up getting violent, and the Natives were tortured, slaughtered and girls as young as the age of ten were sold off as sex slaves for Columbus and his men. Also written in his journals. Why doesn't The Book of Mormon mention this? Deseret Book also has a book written about Columbus: "Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles" written by Clark Hinckley. Why can't that book elude to the true character of Columbus?
More cherry-picking. More whitewashing. And claiming a historical figure as theirs to prove that "the church is 'true.'"
(Side note: I was actually on a message board regarding this book, and Hinckley says something among the lines of; "Columbus was not an evil man, but was he perfect? Of course not." I responded asking him how he felt about the Natives being killed by Columbus and his men, and the Native girls being sold off as sex slaves. This was a over a year ago. I still have yet to hear back from him. I don't expect to hear from him either.)
Another line put some things in perspective for me:
The Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. … The Gentiles ... did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.1 Nephi 13:15-16
That line made things crystal clear. I always questioned the "cursed with a skin of darkness" line that was consistently in the Book of Mormon. Apparently, the Lamanites were so unrighteous that "God" felt a need to darken their skin as a punishment, while the Nephites stayed "fair and beautiful." It was also noted that the mark was there so the Nephites would not "mix" with the Lamanites. So there was the skin color aspect that bothered me, along with the "Curse of Cain" doctrine that the church held onto until 1978.
(Another thing that I had found out was that the "pure and delightsome" used to be "white and delightsome" in previous editions of the Book of Mormon. That, as well as "the most correct book on Earth" had more than one edition should have been a red flag.)
There was even a video shown during Stake Conference (I cannot remember which year, I just remember that it was the Saturday evening adult session) where an excerpt of Alma 30 was portrayed. You have Korihor preaching "priestcraft" and Alma intervening.
Now here's the wretch. The Korihor character had darkened features, whereas Alma was very fair. Instead of listening to the message like a good Mormon girl, I was thinking, "What is the church trying to say here? Are they playing up that 'skin of darkness' line they have in their book?"
It looked around curious as to what others thought of this, but the people that I could see were just watching intently. I found myself wondering what the members thought about this, and the "curse of dark skin" that's in the Book of Mormon. The Stake that I lived in was very diverse, I was curious as to how every single person felt about those lines as I assumed they read them quite often as they read the Book of Mormon.
Another ongoing issue that I had was these lines:
I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. "1 Nephi 13:13
I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.1 Nephi 13:14Where the angel claims that the "white, fair and exceedingly beautiful" Europeans were lead to this "new land" by the hand of "god" and inspired them to kill the "dark and evil" Native Americans. I have a hard time believing that "God" said to the Natives, "Sorry, but you've been so evil, that I'm going to allowing the Gentiles to slaughter you and take your land."
Yes, it happened. And what's done is done. And this was partially how America was developed. But I cannot buy what Mormons try to sell that the ugly beginnings were all "God's plan."
It brought me back to 2011 when I was taking a history course at a community college. My professor taught how some Native American tribes would live numerously in a housing, but still got along peacefully. My teacher then said, "These are the people that are wrongly referred to 'savages.'"
It had hit me at the moment that the Book of Mormon painted the Natives (or Lamanites) as an evil and unrighteous, and that's why have their "markings." I was in a dilemma after that. I then wondered if I was going to trust a history book or a book that was claimed to be "God's book." That was something I (sadly) had put on my shelf.
There was even a time later when I went to a Gospel Doctrine class being held by a friend where he said, "I am a Lamanite (he's half Cherokee), so technically, I am a bad boy." I remember thinking, "Why would you say that about yourself because you have Native American ancestry?" I have Arawak and Cherokee in my blood, but I didn't go around in Primary and refer to myself as a "bad girl." Not jokingly or otherwise.
Some time later, I would talk to a friend about her mission which she had just returned from. She served in the southwest where the elder missionaries would be the ones to teach on the reservations there. She would say, "The prophecy is right; the Native Americans are finally becoming a 'pure and delightsome' people. It's great to see that they are giving up their old traditions, because they are very much incorrect."
That conversation also caused me to raise an eyebrow. I said nothing but wondered who was she to say whether their traditions (something I'm sure is sacred) were incorrect or not? I also wondered if she was saying that the Native Americans were a wicked people before Mormonism "came back" and the leaders decided to reach out to them.
And then we have the General Authorities (men that I listened to religiously in conference and on my !pod), missionaries, members claiming that there is no racism whatsoever in this church, and yet it was erased from their history.
And, it is still in the book that they claim to be the most important book in their organization.
There was no longer any way for me to try to justify this.
And that was it. My Mormon Bubble had burst completely.
My thoughts and emotions were all over the place. There was frustration, disappointment, and hurt.
After the lesson I just looked down at the Book of Mormon. I didn't want to look at anyone, or for anyone to look at me. All I know is that I wanted to get away from everyone. I wanted to run outside, or to the nearest powder room...so I could scream...or to cry...or both.
But I just sat there, looking down at the Book of Mormon, pretending to look over it.
I must have put out an awkward energy, because that's when the SA Representative wife had said my name and asked me if I had any thoughts that I would like to share about what was just taught. I shook my head no. She then says, "It's amazing isn't it? That Nephi foresaw the coming of Columbus and the shaping of America!" I just nodded.
Her husband chimes in and says, "The Book of Mormon holds many beautiful histories and truths, and we are lucky to have it." Like a good Mormon girl, I just smile and nodded, and counted down the minutes until this FHE event would be over.
Some time later, we had closing prayer where the wife gave the prayer. She must have had an inkling that I was not happy with the lesson, and questioning things because one of her lines was, "And please bless us that we will not stray away from any influence of outside forces..."
I was finally able to take a deep breath when I locked myself in my room after coming home. I was glad that my roommate was out of town, because I knew that as soon as I walked through the door, she'd pepper me with questions about FHE, and I was far from in the mood to talk about it.
I should have know that this was coming. After everything that I had discovered about this church, how could I not know that there would be more to come? Or that I would be given a reason to stay?
Even with every thing that I had discovered that had caused my bubble to burst...I still had no idea on what to do.