Just the other day my brother posted his testimony (for the second time in one week) and his wording, while very typical TBM wording, made me think. He started it with this:
I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
My initial response was to roll my eyes and continue to scroll through the meaningless posts filling my feed. But I later came across it again and I realized that the wording he used, the wording used by nearly every Mormon, rubs me the wrong way. As a TBM, I never would have thought it weird to say that I belong to the church. However, from the outside looking in, I have a completely new perspective. I have friends who associate with many different religions, but never once have I heard one of them say that they BELONG to their church. Most say “I go to [insert church name here].” In fact, if you google “I belong to the church” you will yield results that are almost completely LDS related, whether it be a primary song or a nursery lesson. This is something that at one point in my life I saw just as displaying loyalty to the LDS church, but now I see it more as a way to indoctrinate the members of the Mormon church. And when you really think about it, as terrible as it is, members of the LDS church really do BELONG to the church. The LDS church owns its members because they have their members convinced that if they don’t give 10% of their income over, they won’t get into the Celestial Kingdom. They own their members because they can tell them what kind of underwear they need to wear in order to be saved, and the members will listen without so much as a blink of the eye. The church owns its members, and every single day members say so, without really thinking about why.
That isn’t the only thing that rubs me the wrong way about that sentence. Since leaving I can’t stand hearing or saying the words “THE church.” From a young age they get into into children’s heads that the LDS church is the only church. Yes, they acknowledge that there are other churches and religions in the world, but members are indoctrinated to believe that their’s is the only church worth belonging to. They tell you time and time again that they are the only church with the fullness of the gospel. They are the only true church. This isn’t something that common members go around saying(well, most at least), but you can tell that this is the attitude when you talk to them about their religion. When talking to a Mormon about what they believe, they will constantly say “THE church believes…” This was something of a habit for me when I was still practicing, and unfortunately it still is. I often find myself biting my tongue. I have to remind myself to say “the LDS Church” or “the Mormon Church.” In leaving I have realized that any religion that encourages you to be a good person, is one worth belonging to.