Renouncing It All
In the fall of 2013, Tami got a new job at LDS Hospital as a phlebotomist. One day on her way home from work, she drove past a billboard advertising a website claiming to share the truth about Mormons and Church history. “How bad could it be?” Tami wrote. “BAD. Really, really bad.” In an interview, she added, “This was the beginning of me really leaving the Church and becoming an anti-Mormon.”
The website opened Tami’s eyes to facts and history about the Church which she had previously not known. “The things that I found out on the website are true,” Tami said. “And that’s why I think I felt so angry at first. I felt lied to. I felt that the Church had hid a lot of things.” Tami later came to feel that the website had “twisted these facts into something evil.”
For three weeks Tami obsessed over the website, reading it on the train every day to and from work. “I would use every spare moment I had on that website reading article after article and post after post. It consumed me,” Tami said.
After three weeks, Tami decided to write a letter removing her name from the Church. “That’s when I announced [my departure from the Church] on Facebook, for my family to see,” she adds.
Tami jumped into her new lifestyle with vigor, anxious to defend her new hatred for the Church and to prove that she was happy. “Finally, I was free!” Tami wrote. “Free as a bird. I took flight. I flew right into a tattoo shop and got a blackbird singing tattooed on my leg.”
“I was free from what I thought were strict rules and people telling me what I could and couldn’t do,” Tami said. “I tried just so hard to convince myself that I was happy and free, and I got the tattoo as a reminder of that.”
“I started drinking," she continues. "I filled my fridge with beer and wine. . . . I took pictures of my fridge and posted them, yep, on social media,” Tami wrote on her blog. “I had a few people un-friend me on Facebook. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why they would do such a thing! Weren’t they taught not to judge and love everyone?
“I in turn un-friended everyone in my ward. . . . I’ll show them! Hate consumed me. It flowed through my veins. Darkness clouded my eyes and my heart. I only cared about myself.”
Soon after Tami made her announcement, her father reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to meet with a friend of his that was serving as a mission president in Utah. Tami saw the invitation as a challenge and a chance to prove that the Church was wrong. She agreed to meet.
At this point, Tami had already mailed her resignation letter to her bishop. “He encouraged me to remove my name,” Tami said. “He told me that a fresh start is probably what I needed.”
Tami used this in her ammunition when she met with the mission president and his wife, but her plan backfired. The mission president asked her if she had any faith left at all. Tami told him no.
“Do you have any, any love for God?” he asked her.
This was a point that Tami couldn’t deny. Although she no longer believed in the Church, she did believe in God.
“If you do,” the mission president said. “If you have any, any love for God, don’t remove your name.”
That night Tami texted her bishop and told him that she had changed her mind and not to remove her name from the Church. But she was still far from coming back.