“I was born and raised in Northern Utah and was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church, Mormon) until the age of fifteen. I was faithful to the LDS Church, better known as a “true believing Mormon” (TBM), but slowly became apathetic towards the Church like many teenage Mormons do. I was also dissatisfied with various answers I received to seemingly important questions about the doctrine, but figured every uncertainty could be explained away and I was going through a “doubting phase” like my friends, family and church leaders suggested.
However, this doubt and apathy conspired to eventually corrode my willpower for Church activity and I stopped attending at age 17, much to the dismay of my family and friends. Even though my church attendance declined, I continued to attend my Seminary class throughout my high school years. (Seminary is Mormon-speak for bible study during school hours. It is a program sponsored by The Church in which students walk a short distance to an off-campus Church building during “released time” to have a Sunday-school lesson.)
I ended up graduating from seminary, but out of loathing the church, I virtually severed every tie I had in the community. I still spent time with my closest friends, but everybody else became distanced.
Fast-forward five years and I'm living in another state with essentially a new life. I'm now a moderately 'out' atheist and I want to examine the cult in which I was raised.
Please don't think I use the word “cult” for shock factor. Honestly, I don’t shy away from the word because the root refers to “culture”. When I say culture, I mean that the Church is an entire life structure for TBMs, much like any fundamental religious sect. Church wasn’t just the place I went to on Sunday; it was also the meeting place for youth activities multiple times per week. It was the place that I played with my closest friends and classmates, and associated with them under reverence for the Lord. It was the place where my youth soccer coach was also my Bishop (aka: Pastor). It's the place I devoted countless thoughts, feelings, and hours to, and of course, these thoughts and feelings can't resist revival every time I drive past the Church building or see a member of my old Ward (aka: Congregation). But most of all, the church provided an entire support structure on which the person that is Bryce Blankenagel was built. That's something I don't take lightly, and I'm thankful for.
I can't deny that the structure was beneficial, and I agree that it takes a village to raise a child, a belief that is heavily embedded into the Church's doctrine. However, teaching a child, or any person for that matter, what to think instead of teaching them how to think, is not a good thing for the child or society in general. That's what I'm advocating against. Let's look at the evidence about the Mormon religion, from establishment to present, and learn from the experiences and testimonies of the people involved."