The past two months have brought a maelstorm of Church-related drama. After some hesitation as to whether or not to make this story public, I have decided that I want to do so. What follows is a time-line of events as they have occurred over this past year.
July, 2010Several few months ago, we had a Facebook (FB) friend from the ward visit Mister Curie's blog. She is not someone I had ever met, but was added on FB because we had mutual friends in the ward. Shortly thereafter, she emailed us to let us know she had found it. We were very appreciative of her email. We were also wary of watching our visitors to ensure that the blog was not made public knowledge to the ward. Since no new influx of Philadelphia-area visitors immediately occurred, we brushed it aside.
October 22-28, 2010At the end of October, I wrote a review of the movie Arranged for Doves and Serpents. In the review, I mentioned obliquely my experiences with the garment as a religious covering, and my feelings both taking on and casting off the garment. This review was linked on FB to my account.
In response to my (very well-written, if I do say so myself) review, I received around five FB message inquiries into my belief status, usually presented in a way that I knew what they were really asking was, "Why the hell are you wearing tank tops?". I should note that I had already been fielding related questions from distant friends for several months. None of these individuals had had in-person or in-depth contact with me over the past 2-3 years. They were casual acquaintances.
I used my privacy settings to hide the letter specifically from my husband's family, who already knew most of it and for whom it would just be adding salt to old wounds. I also hid the letter from anyone who was 17 or younger; it is not my right or responsibility to influence their religious beliefs. I took my influence in this matter very seriously.
Early November, 2010A week or so later, I randomly ran into the missionaries on my way home from taking Le Petite to school. I had stopped at the store on the way home, and had about 4 heavy bags of groceries in my hands. They asked why they hadn't seen me in church in a while. I replied that church wasn't doing it for me lately. They then kept prodding me for answers for close to an hour, all the while not offering to carry my bags for me (It was very, very rude).
A few weeks after that, the missionaries started stopping by our house. I didn't give them our address - I can only assume they got it from the ward. They stopped by four times in 2 weeks in early and mid-November, never coming inside because Mr. C was never home. Then on a Sunday in November, just two weeks before Thanksgiving, they caught us all at home.
The missionaries more or less invited themselves in, and we all sat down in the living room. At the time, I was in the middle of a major winter cleaning, so most of the main bookshelf in our living room was covering the floor, along with random cleaning supplies. But I set it aside to talk to our guests.
The missionaries spent a short period of time shooting the breeze, before getting to the essence of their visit: Why weren't the Curies at church today? Mr. C flippantly replied, "Because we were here." We answered their questions by stating, repeatedly, "We aren't interested in attending anymore. You will be unable to address our concerns in any way that is satisfactory to you, but thanks for your time." However, after about 45 min of being asked the same question in various forms, I finally caved and shared with them my reasons for my disaffection. You all know them; I won't reiterate them.
And then... Mr. C decided to share his concerns. Let me simply summarize by stating that I don't think they expected to be told,
Its ok that Joseph Smith had 33 documented wives, translated the Book of Mormon using a rock in a hat, and made magic circles around the site where the plates were buried, but I really think the Church should own their history.The missionaries stared at each other with a look that said, "Satan is HERE!" and quickly left with protestations that they had another appointment.
After the visit, Mr. C and I were shaking. Mr. C assured me that we wouldn't hear from the ward until after the new year, since Thanksgiving was so close. But then the following Sunday, we had an urgent call from the bishop requesting to see us in our home ASAP.
We had expected that the visit would be about our lack of church attendance and the missionaries' reports. On the contrary, the Bishopric insisted that they had no idea that the missionaries had even stopped by. Instead, the stated purpose of the visit was that the bishop had received a tearful phone call from someone "a thousand miles away" who had read my FB letter. I replied, with a nod, "Oh, was it my mother in law?" since, frankly, I can think of no one else in Utah or Idaho who might have been surprised by the letter. He responded that it wasn't family, and he didn't remember their name or how they knew me, and that, oh, just forget about the individual in question, but I got a copy of your note and was concerned.
Specifically, they were concerned about who the note had been read by, how my privacy setting had been set, whether I had posted it on my blog, and how "public" I had made it.
And all for the "good name of the Church".
Now, I am from the Philadelphia area. The people on my FB friends lists who are active Mormons are largely congregated in the Philadelphia area. I have NO CONNECTION with Utah apart from my in-laws. In other words, with regards to the "teary call" from Utah, I call bullshit. Far more likely, someone in the Stake high council had read the note and was concerned, especially since FB has been on the Stake's hit list for the past few years.
At that point, discipline was hinted at, in terms of the need to "protect the good name of the Church" from those who publicly disparage it. I stated that while it was true that in their words, I was in a state of "personal apostasy," it was not my intent to lead others from the Church if it works for them. I do not carry signs at anti-Mormon rallies. I do not seek to destroy others' faith. And, as Mr. C commented,
My influence was being far, far, far exaggerated if they thought that a blog following of 20 fellow disaffected Mormons in any way constituted a threat.I stated categorically that if discipline was being considered, I would gladly resign. The only reason I have maintained my membership is for Mister C's family's sake. However, I would definitely resign before submitting myself to a Church court of discipline. At that point, the Bishop stated he was just visiting "as my friend," and the conversation was changed to the upcoming Ward party. We asked if they had any questions for Mister C. They did not; they stated they had only come to talk to me.
The meeting ended congenially with an invitation to the Ward Christmas show.
December 7-8, 2010
Last night, I checked my Stat Counter account to check who had been reading my and Mister C's blog. Neither of us checks these religiously, since we don't care so much about traffic. But, I was struck by an influx of Philadelphia-area visitors, to my blog specifically. The visits were from an individual who first visited my blog on Oct. 11-12, 2010, and who comes to my blog through a link on Mister C's. The visitors never stay for more than a few seconds on Mister C's blog before coming here. There are two main IP addresses, and both start off as searches for "mister curie madam curie" or "curie us blogspot" on search engines.
Interestingly, the visitors only read my Mormon-related posts, spending about 20 min on each visit. Whether it is the same person or several is unclear. It is certainly not the person in our ward that we know has our blog address, since her IP is tagged. Whether this increased activity is connected with the Church inquiries surrounding my FB and blog messages, I cannot say. However, after over a year of having no Philadelphia activity on our blogs, suddenly having 4 separate IP addresses from Philadelphia in 2 days is a little disconcerting.
That's the whole saga.