I am a member of the church who has lived outside of Utah for the past 10 years. I attended two very liberal universities in my time away (University of Washington and Northern Arizona University), and developed very strong liberal ideologies. I have returned to Utah, and am now a graduate student at BYU. Outside of Utah I found I was able to reconcile my political views with my church membership just fine. But the longer I am here in “happy valley,” the more I feel that this church does not define me. While I am consciously aware that it is Mormon culture, and not the gospel, that I find so annoying, I am having an increasingly difficult time separating the two. Now that I am at BYU, the discomfort is increasing, and my desire to stage my own private rebellion and discontinue my activity in the church is powerful. My frustration is affecting my husband, and I do have children who attend church. If I make the decision to be less active it affects them deeply. I’d be thrilled to learn whatever survival strategy you have for attending BYU as a liberal democrat. As you know, I do need an ecclesiastical endorsement.
A few weeks ago I made my own version of the “I’m a Mormon” ads the Church has been running and put it up on my friends YouTube account. [Note: The video ends with the words “I’m pro gay-rights, and I’m Mormon.” See it here.]
Making that video seemed like a great idea at the time. I got a lot of good responses at first. Then, I started to get Church members telling me I’d be excommunicated. And now the only people who seem to be viewing are hardcore Mormon haters. I tried to ignore them and deleted most of the comments, but you can tell by the dislike count that I’ve been getting a lot of ridicule now.
I should have just ignored all the comments, but one person told me about a video with Bill Maher and Craig Ferguson. I watched it and it had too much in it for me to just toss aside. I will admit, though I have a testimony of the LDS church, I don’t know as much about it as a lot of nonmembers apparently.
Bill talked about so many things I’d never heard of before. And he of course had to make a point that we are all extremely weird and something about how we ignore science and anything intellectual. I hate that stereotype more than any of the others because I am an intellectual.
Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve seen the video already, but he made a lot of really short points that supposedly proved our entire religion wrong. I’m sorry to bug you about this, but I can’t think of anyone else. All the members I know personally will only slap me on the wrist for watching the video and tell me that it was Satan or something. I don’t want to live the rest of my life just brushing these things off – I want to fully understand all of it so that I know my beliefs are justified.
Do you have any advice?
Dear Ask Mormon Girl:
My wife and I recently heard you on the radio, and we thrilled when you used the words “Mormon” and “liberal” in the same sentence to describe yourself. We sometimes feel like we are the only liberal Mormons in the Church. Can you direct us to other podcasts, writings, etc.?
T & M in Tooele County
Dear T& M:
You’re not alone! Every time I encounter another Mormon liberal, I feel the way I felt that night when I ran out onto the field of the Rose Bowl for the great LDS Southern California Dance Festival of 1985: Stoked! Proud! And finally, truly, among my people!
Unless you live in an urban or university ward, chances are you’re one of just a handful of liberals sitting in your Sacrament Meeting. A recent Gallup poll found that Mormons are the most conservative and most Republican of any major religious group in the United States.