By Kent Larsen
Website for 'ex-Mormons' Spawns Conference
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- If faithful members of the LDS Church are dismayed that
exmormons.org even exists, they will be more dismayed to know that the
six-year-old website has also spawned an annual conference, now in its fifth
year. The "Recovery from Mormonism" conference led to an article in
yesterday's Las Vegas Sun, which looked at the website and conference and
interviewed Las Vegas ex-Mormon Helena Broadbent.
The exmormon.org website was founded in 1995 by Tennesseean Eric Kettunen,
who thought it might help a few others who were leaving or had left the LDS
Church. He was surprised, however, at how many people visited and
participated with the site. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the website
includes the personal stories and reasons for leaving the Church of more
than 120 ex-Mormons. It also contains links to other sites critical of the
LDS Church and a message board for visitors to leave their comments.
Unfortunately, some current Church members have responded, attacking the
site. One recent comment quoted in the Sun reads, "I recently converted to
Mormonism and have never been happier. You are an insecure, jealous,
frustrated, bitter piece of garbage. Only a completely insecure individual
would devote as much time as you to such negativity."
Broadbent, in her interview with the Sun, says that this reaction isn't
unusual. "Most of my friends dropped me like hot coal," she said of their
reaction to her leaving the Church. "I was absolutely shunned. And those
that didn't shun me didn't have anything left to say because we didn't have
the church in common to talk about anymore." She goes on to say that leaving
was the most painful -- and most isolating -- decision in her life. "It's
not like leaving another church," Broadbent said. "The Mormon Church
controls your life when you are in it. And so when you leave it, it can be
very painful. Everything you know to be true changes."
Contacted by the Sun about the Conference and the website, Las Vegas LDS
Church spokesman Will Stoddard called the group "unfortunate." "The only
thing I can say is that our hearts go out to those people who have had
difficulty in their lives," Stoddard said. "Our hope is that they find peace."
According to the article, the "Recovery from Mormonism" conference, held
this past weekend, may be offensive to many Church members. Attendees
reportedly participated in mock ceremonies that satirize Mormon sacred
rituals, including a "testimonkey" meeting.
Las Vegas NV Sun 26Feb01 I2
By Stacy J. Willis: Las Vegas Sun
Web provides meeting site for ex-members