‘BUT WHEN did it dawn on you, that thing that you couldn’t tell them, couldn’t tell anyone?’ Vernon’s eyes are fierce behind his glasses as he asks his friend this.
I am talking to two young men, both residents of Salt Lake City, Utah. Both ex-Mormons.
They have had very different experiences. This is the first time Vernon has become impassioned like this, even as he has detailed his upbringing in a small and very Mormon Utah town, his rejection of the church, and the subsequent severing from his family.
‘They wanted you to pray to see “The Truth”, which means they want you to verify their truth.’ He laughs, pushing his glasses up his nose.
‘Do you know that when Joseph Smith [the 19th century founder of Mormonism] claimed to have found the golden plates [from which he read the Book of Mormon] he “showed them” to his disciples, and when they didn’t see them, he told them they needed to go pray until they did? I felt like them.’
‘I did pray, only I always prayed to find the actual truth, not Joseph Smith’s. Maybe my prayers were answered, because I study science now.’ He smiles, but is not joking.
Rationalism has been a refuge for Vernon, and leaving the church was a veritable conversion.
‘The way I look at it is it kind of a mind virus that infects people. It is definitely a cult. Cults try to cut themselves off from society.’
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