This open letter to the primary kids I taught who are now grown was featured in an episode of sEXyMOfo: Deconstructing Mormonism, Healing Religious Trauma, and Overcoming Repression. Jump to the end of the post to listen to the full episode.

Letter to the Primary Kids I Taught Who Are Now Grown

I am sorry.

I was wrong. I was deluded. I was misled.

But more importantly, I misled you.

As your primary teacher, as your babysitter, as a Relief Society president, as the convert placed on a pedestal — I bore witness of the truths that had been programmed into my mind, that had been painted over my personality and actual truth.

I came to the church from trauma. It collected me from the rubble of a breaking home. It gave me community and identity — replacing almost all of who I actually was with a mask that even I grew to believe.

I still remember the first time I thought maybe the church could be true. It was after listening to Gordon B. Hinckley. He seemed kind and genuine. He reminded me of my grandpa. He told me (and everyone else listening) that he knew the church was true, and I didn’t think he would lie to me – like I can only imagine you assumed I would never lie to you.

The problem is that people can genuinely believe something and still be wrong. I “knew” the church was true? What a silly thing to say. Have you ever wondered why you are subtly encouraged to use the word “know” rather than “believe”? The wording of testimonies is designed specifically to brainwash members, those bearing testimony and even more potently, those listening. Nothing can convince me otherwise.

As I progressed on my journey, more and more kind and genuine people bore their testimony to me. They couldn’t all be wrong, right? I mean, they KNEW. They were good people. They wouldn’t lie.

So I fasted and prayed and convinced myself that my desire to believe was a testimony, that my sense of belonging at church was the spirit, that my own intuition and inner voice I had always had was actually the infallible Holy Ghost. (Oh, what a dangerous thing to believe!)

I thought I could stay myself and Mormon, but bit by bit, I changed myself to adapt to the culture — until I was all but gone. Maybe you knew me later in my journey and only saw my best Molly Mormon version. Or maybe you watched the whole transformation end to end and saw me change. Regardless of when you knew me, I guarantee my words and example were used to reinforce your own brainwashing.

Every lesson I prepared, every testimony I bore, every prayer I prayed, borne in false witness despite the fact I believed them at the time.

Back then, all I wanted was your happiness. And back then, I truly believed that would be found by serving a mission and marrying faithfully in the church. I counseled these things. I taught these things. I prepared you for these things.

And now, I watch as you embark on these endeavors. Finally adults able to make your own choices, free of your parents’ control, I see you choosing all the things they and I encouraged.

And my heart breaks.

Because I see it in your eyes.

I see you struggling with body issues, deep-seated shame, and religious trauma. I see you struggling with identity issues because you’ve never been allowed to be yourself or even figure out who that is. And you haven’t even come up against your parents’ and grandparents’ and bishops’ hypocrisy yet.

“By their fruits, ye shall know them.”

When I left the church, it was because I finally saw the hypocrisy. But more importantly, I realized the fruits of the church were sexual repression, and ultimately, sexual harm among many other negative things. I saw the sexual scandals shaking my congregation and even my own marriage. I realized that God would never allow HIS church to hide the things it does, protect abusers as it does, and counsel women to stay with and have children with men who should not be husbands or fathers.

I left because as I looked at all of you, I realized I just couldn’t raise my own children in the same setting in good conscience.

Even then, I wished I could undo the words I had said, the lessons I had taught, the testimonies I had born. But I was only able to heal myself with a clean break — a hard and fast severing of the church from my life. But now, as I watch you leaving for missions and growing up, the call to speak feels more urgent.

All I want for you is still happiness and fulfillment. If you truly have that in your current circumstances, I’m happy for you. Keep on keeping on.

But if you have trepidation about that mission or aren’t sure if a church school is really the best place to spread your wings, please listen to your intuition.

Find your way out if you feel stuck. It will be the hardest thing you ever do, but now is the time to do it. Before you waste 1.5-2 years and thousands of dollars, before you marry someone you don’t actually love because “any two people can build a happy marriage”, before you have children and start indoctrinating them yourself.

If you need a hand out, please reach out to me. I will never be able to undo all the hours I dedicated to building up a false Zion, but I would love the opportunity to help you find yourself and actual happiness.

I am sorry. I was wrong.

The church is not true.

It is the great and spacious building, and I am one of the countless women whose tears cry up from the dust and condemn it.

Hear me and save yourself.

If the podcast player isn’t working, you can open Spotify in your browser to listen to sEXyMOfo Podcast: (Episode 2) An Open Letter to the Primary Kids I Taught Who Are Now Grown. sEXyMOfo is also available on your other favorite streaming platforms. Subscribes, listens, and shares are so appreciated as I share this message!

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