Saturday, November 9, 2013

Are you Mormon?

"Are you Mormon?"

Simple enough question, right? You either are or you aren't.




"Oh, you're from Utah? So, are you Mormon?" can be an incredibly complicated question. I've chatted with many a non-believing, non-ex Mormon about this question. Clearly it's not just me who feels uneasy about it, so let's chat.

I've been through three stages of Mormon identity.

Stage 1 comprised the first 25 years of my life. That's when the answer was simple. "Are you Mormon?" Um, yes. Duh.

Stage 2 consists of the six years I was completely inactive.  I lived in Utah for most of this period, so answering in the affirmative definitely gave the wrong impression. Saying yes would imply that I was going to church every Sunday, wearing my garments, reading my scriptures, etc. But saying no would imply that I didn't have any relationship with the church, and that was obviously not true. It made me feel like I was hiding something, and I wasn't. I was never ashamed of my inactivity. I finally settled on something along the lines of, "Well, yes, technically, but I'm not currently active."

My husband was going to the University of Utah during some of that time (the dirty U!), and he would totally answer no. That bothered me! I felt like he was denying his upbringing or something. I don't know, it just hurt me that he wanted to ignore any relationship at all with this church that formed him, and frankly, is and always will be a huge part of who we are as a couple. He has since become a little more comfortable with his Mormon upbringing and he can just answer, "I was raised Mormon." On the East Coast, nobody bats an eye at that answer. Back here, pretty much everyone's answer to questions of religious identity is, "I was raised [blank]." I think that answer would even work in Utah. People would get the idea.

Stage 3 is where I'm at now. I've come to realize that I almost can't become un-Mormon any more than I can become un-Italian. It's just what I am, regardless of my actual religious beliefs. So sometimes I just answer yes. Because you know what? I AM Mormon. My name is on the rolls and I know a thing or two about the church's doctrines, practices, culture, etc.  I have also started telling people that I'm an agnostic Mormon. It is AWESOME. People are obviously fascinated by the idea and I think it has actually been good for people to see that Mormons aren't as homogeneous as they're made out to be. It sums me up perfectly, because my beliefs are agnostic, but culturally, I am very much a Mormon.

Ultimately, I think this is a very personal question. I'm curious how all of my blog friends with similar faith issues answer it.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, I have never had the presence of mind to form a good answer to this question. I had never spent much time thinking about it, so the question usually catches me off guard and I just end up saying I'm Mormon, and then feeling really uncomfortable about it, like I'm lying to them. I don't like misrepresenting my beliefs to people. So I'm glad of this post—you finally gave me a few options to use when I'm stuck against the wall!