Over the past many months, some members of the LDS Church have called me a non-believer. Mostly it happens on social media or behind my back as gossip. Not much opportunity to engage in a heart-to-heart as to what I believe.
Then, yesterday, I had a conversation with a very close friend who is also a member. As we rambled, he casually referred to me as a non-believer. It caught me off guard. It took me aback. I questioned myself, “I am a non-believer? How can I possibly be viewed as a non-believer?”
After this friendly interchange, I got in my car to drive away. I contemplated how others look at me. Tears began welling. How can it be that I have faith in Jesus Christ, but am considered a non-believer in the Church of Jesus Christ? How has it come to this, that faith in Jesus is not enough? How is it possible that good church members could make this kind of judgment? It does not feel right.
Jesus Christ. I believe in His gospel. I absolutely adore his teachings and example. They reach into the core of my heart. So much so, that I’ve decided to place my faith in Him and only in Him. His way is a true and wonderful way to live a good and fulfilling life. My goal is to emulate the Savior in word and deed. Not always an easy task. ……..So, I am a Non-believer?
The Book of Mormon. This is a tremendous book of scripture. It contains teachings of Christ. It elaborates and elucidates the doctrines of Christ. It’s another witness of Christ. It beckons me to follow Him. The Book of Mormon has blessed my life, my family and the lives of many others. ….So I’m really just a non-believer?
The Apostolic Leaders of the Church. I recognize and sustain them as prophets, seers and revelators. They are good men. I listen and pay attention to their loving direction. However, I view them as men, fallible men. Modern day prophets and apostles can and have led us astray. That does not invalidate their calling or station. It validates that they are men. ….Is it this that makes me a non-believer?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been a member all my life. It has served me well. I have served it diligently and for tens of thousands of hours. My callings have been full of many treasured experiences. The church was a vital part of the upbringing of my children. I love the church. I am happy that my children and grandchildren still embrace it. …..Thus, I am a non-believer?
Over the past year, I have become acquainted with many active Mormons whose faith has transitioned. They presently serve in various ward and stake callings. Yet, they are in hiding. They suffer or stew in silence. Some say they are “hanging on by their fingernails.” Others express that they don’t know how much longer they can take it. Some have decided to leave when a certain life event occurs. Still others simply continue in support of a spouse or parent.
So, why don’t these good people broach their concerns and conclusions within their own wards among their own friends? Why: IT….IS….NOT….SAFE.
I have been very open about my faith and beliefs. By many, I have been judged as a non-believer. That does not make me feel safe.
Some of my active & secretive church friends only believe parts of the LDS gospel. Some have moved all the way to being atheist. I can only imagine how unsafe they must feel if someone like me is deemed a non-believer.
Why can’t we come out of isolation, hiding and hurt? Why can’t we all just be members who are attempting to follow the teachings of Christ? Without the constant, nagging worry that we will bear a judgmental blot of stigma for our beliefs?