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BY CHELSEA PANTER
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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Panter

Why I Left the Mormon Church

I was in my early 20's when I left the Mormon Church. The earliest memory of me questioning the religion was when I was in the first grade. I remember the small metal chairs we were sitting on in Sunday School and our sweet teacher. I looked around as I was the only one in class not raising their hand after being asked a question about the Holy Ghost. From there on, I would go back and forth from trying to be the best Mormon I could be to "rebelling" by not attending church and doing things like drinking alcohol which is called breaking the Word of Wisdom. Each time I was playing the roll of being Mormon, I would want everyone to be a part of it. I read the entire Book of Mormon. I was sad when people would leave the church because I was worried about their salvation. I would give people Book of Mormons in hopes that they would want to join the church. When I was not participating, I would feel extremely guilty like I was doing something wrong. I thought if I was "sinning," I would not get into the highest level of heaven.

In my teens into young adulthood, I had a propensity for running away. I moved out when I was 16, then moved back into my parent's house shortly after. I moved to Hawaii. I moved back to the mainland. I moved to Southern California. All to run away form disfunctional relationships at home, boyfriends, myself. When I came to Southern California, I was running away yet again. What I didn't realize is that I would finally find my Self right here at the beach. I developed a love for surfing and connecting with nature. That was probably the first step back to who I really was. I would be alone a lot, toes in the sand, feeling the rise and fall of the tide. Feeling the calmness of the ocean and watching countless sunsets opened my heart and brought me peace.

I started reading books on Existentialism, the history of Christianity written by historians instead of religious leaders and books about Buddhism. I picked up a copy of "The Art of Happiness" one day when I was in a local copy store. That book was epic for me. It was the first time I had ever heard of the theory that attachment leads to suffering. It was the first time I had heard the idea that the present moment is all we really have. Buddhism helped me to understand compassion like I never had before. Perhaps this was because it was in conjunction with understanding that I had been attachedto my suffering. I realized, my resentment was more about methen what someone had ever done to me. A lot of forgiveness took place.

At the root of all of my self-realization was LOVE. I had never felt a love like this before. Looking back it was so obvious. I was emmersed in the color green. I painted my bedroom green. My bedding was all green, my picture frames. Green is the energy of the heart chakra and that is exactly what I was healing.

One night, I was making the drive home from work along the coast. As I gazed out into the sun setting across the ocean, I realized I was done being Mormon. I would not go back to a religion I did not fully believe in or one that did not nurture my soul. It wasn't because of the history of the church or the strict standards. I did not even consider those things at that time because those were things I was never attracted to to begin with. I had tried to ignore the issues that created cognitive dissonance for me. At that time, I left because of a feeling in my heart that the Mormon religion was not right for me. On the drive home, as I made the decision to leave, I immediately felt the weight of a thousand rocks being lifted from my shoulders. It was nothing I had ever felt before. I felt relief. I felt at peace and filled with love. I didn't know if there was a God or if there was life after death. I didn't believe in angels, didn't know about past lives or guides. I wasn't attached to any belief and I was right where I needed to be.

Many years and experiences have passed and bringing me to where I am now on my spiritual journey. I am an energy reader and healer, a Usui Reiki Master. I am well aware of the energetic body we have around and in us and our connection to all things. What I believe in has evolved and it took a long time to get where I am today which is always changing. My spirituality evolves as I have evolved.

About seven years after I left the Mormon church, I read a book that detailed the history of the church. It is called "Under the Banner of Heaven". It is a very thorough book that sites facts with resources in an unbiased way. The book is written about the details of a crime carried out by two Mormon brothers. I don't recommend reading it unless you can handle gore. When I learned the history of Joseph Smith and how the church had been persecuted all those years ago because they were polygamists, I was shocked. I knew about the polygamy, but I did not know it was the reason for the persecution. Smith himself had been tarred and feathered because he had told a 14 year old girl "God" had instructed him to make this child his next wife. When the child's family became outraged, they got the town together to tar and feather Smith. This is one of many, many disturbing facts about the church that are silenced within its walls. I realized even after attending hours of church, seminary all throughout high school and even the LDS Institute of Religion when I was in college, studying church doctrine, the truth about the Mormon church had not been revealed to me in its fullest. There is so much secrecy and so many facts that are covered up and buried. Everyone deserves to know the truth. I have no animosity towards the Mormon church and its patriarchy and I believe it does a lot of good in a lot of ways and some damage in some others. Everyone is different. I do believe there is a shift happening on our planet and we as a humanity are raising our vibrations, becoming more aware and enlightened. Following my heart, I made the right choice for me to leave.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I love sharing my story and I love hearing others.

Namaste.

Love and light.

Chelsea


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