Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Non-LDS Conversion Stories: Sound Familiar?

In the interest of space, I'm only going to provide links. I'm going to also assume many here know the basic storyline of an LDS conversion. They're often quite similar, but here's mine:

1) grew up going to a bunch of churches, something seemed out of place. didn't believe in many doctrines and strongly questioned others.

2) met a bunch of LDS people in high school who were a bit weird, but sticky sweet nice. one became a good friend of mine (my friend George Cole -- you may have seen him in this semi-viral picture--dude on the right)

3) after graduation, decided that something was missing and I wanted religion but nothing struck me as very true. i saw mainstream christians as rather hypocritical.

4) met an LDS girl who became my bestie in college. she invited me to church and I went despite the strong opposition of my family who began to inundate me with anti-propaganda. didn't work--too much stuff at institute resonated with me.

6) felt "the spirit" and enjoyed the unconditional friendship of other LDS people. they were rather excited and wanted me to meet with the missionaries ALL THE TIME but I was determined to do this on my own schedule, to do it because it was what i really believed and not to please someone else.

7) went on a temple trip with the institute group and was overwhelmed by the "spirit" there, even though I was only outside

8) met with a set of missionaries. older couple. a little out of their heads, but nice. called me their "golden convert"

9) had a spiritual experience. asked to pick a possible baptism date but didn't tell anyone about it. Later my missionaries would suggest the same date. hello, confirmation

10) baptized and felt happy (for the first bit, at least). many spiritual experiences.

So, with that and perhaps your own story in mind:

Catholic conversion story (one of many)

Islam conversion story (it's a long one, but basically she'd been through a ton of Christian religions, went atheist and even wiccan and finally found the truth in Islam)

Atheist to Christian (a bit short, but you'll recognize the pattern)

Judaism conversion story (the last one is the best. Jewish conversion stories seem to be a bit different, but not altogether foreign to others)

Christian to Wicca (wiccan conversion stories were harder to find, but the same threads of "what i always knew/believed" is there. what is interesting about the wiccan stories is how they all say "it's what's best for me" and I have to respect that. it's not about a universal truth, but an individual one.)

Then there're these excerpts from Mormon Testimony: People of all faiths have similar testimonies of their own religions

I know this observation is hardly original, but still rather interesting, yeah?


  1. I venture that many--perhaps most--conversions happen for similar reasons. The similarity of so many different religious conversions actually makes me happy; it says to me that truth is indeed personal, and that many paths can make many people happy. That there is no one True Path. For many people I suppose that's unnerving and why many religious people feel inclined to tell others their paths are wrong, but for me it's a good thing.

    Personally I went from staunch LDS to atheist to half agnostic-half paganish. Something I like about some pagan paths is that no conversion in the sense Christians are used to is required--a person can worship without necessarily believing in the deity whose altar they are at. I mean...there's no call to believe that the god or goddess in question LITERALLY created the earth or argue about whether s/he supports Democrats or Republicans.

  2. One of the things that made me leave the church officially was when I realised that what Mormons call "spiritual experiences" not only weren't unique to Mormonism, but weren't unique to religion. I'd already stopped believing in the doctrines, but I was still sort of theistic/deistic, until I figured this out and then all vestiges of religious belief disappeared.

  3. Diana: I, too, find some solace in the similar themes running through all of these stories. It doesn't necessarily prove anything to me, but it means there is no true church. Just a personal truth, whatever that may be.

    Craig: I laughed the first time I read the Catholic conversion story--I mean, my god. It sounded just like my LDS story at the time. It doesn't (at this moment) totally disprove god to me, but like I said to Diana, just disproves the idea that whatever church is the "true" one or the most right. It's all arbitrary.

  4. Yep. Very formulaic. Here's mine:

    1. Grew up non-religious; skeptical of religion on my own.

    2. Went to a high school almost entirely populated by Mormons; I was the only non-Mormon for the first two years. Grew to strongly dislike Mormons as a result of attending that school. One Jack Mormon became a good friend, then we fell out of touch.

    3. Reunited with Jack Mo after graduation. He was newly active and prepping for a mission.

    4. Fell in love. Felt the Spirit. Waited to meet the missionaries as I wanted my conversion to be authentic and in my own time.

    5. Read the BoM. Fell asleep. But it would come in time, surely, as I felt great in church and with Jack's enormous supportive family.

    6. Finally met with mishes; I was "golden." Totally fell in the love with the Church. Plan of Happiness resonated. Intellect superficially satisfied.

    7. Got baptized, by Jack.

    8. Total mess of a relationship. Him: a "porn addict." Me: harlot drawing him away from righteousness.

    9. Broke up, but I stayed firm in the faith, because I'd truly converted.


  5. Yes! This is exactly what is supposed to happen. People finding their way, having experiences, figuring life out. If there is a plan, that is it! I am an agency freak...


  6. I'll start by announcing my biases: I'm converting to Judaism via the Conservative movement and I stumbled upon your blog via a Google News Alert for "Judaism conversion".

    1) Judaism does not assume it has the One True Truth for all of mankind. Jews say the righteous of all nations have a place in the world to come. Jews are held to the 613 mitzvot. Everyone else is held to the 7 Noahide laws that followers of all religions and ethical people of all mindsets follow anyway. We do not evangelize--in fact there is a tradition of turning potential converts away 3 times.

    2) The site that you linked to for the Jewish conversion stories belongs to a rabbi that the rest of the Jewish community looks down on for making a mockery of the conversion process. He used to have pictures of converts dunking in a swimming pool as a mikvah. (Swimming pools don't count as a mikvah in Jewish law.) He profanes the Torah scroll by wrapping it around the group of converts. You'll notice he claims to be a congregational rabbi, but he doesn't belong to ANY of the Jewish synagogue movements and nowhere on his 'congregation's website is there anything about worship services.

    I'm not here to debunk your pattern--I think it's a good model for many, if not most conversions. I just wanted to let you know, that that particular site isn't viewed by the rest of the Jewish community as, well, "real". He's almost viewed as a scam artist.

  7. @Chandelle: God. Except for the Jack thing, spot on for me. But still, that you had to go through finding out that Jack was--yeah, man. I've had a few friends go through the same thing, except one married the guy before finding out.

    @annalee: Exactly :)

    @mikvahbound: Duly noted, thank you :)

  8. Personally, I feel that he wasn't addicted so much as just generally dysfunctional about sex because of the way he'd been raised. His completely normal sex drive was demonized, which just amplified it beyond his control - that anti-sex religious training sent him into the addiction cycle of self-loathing and regret.

    He was very weird about porn, yes, but he was very weird about sex in general, and I don't think that would have been the case if he hadn't been trained to believe that touching himself or another person was "the crime next to murder" or some shit.

    He never did go on a mission but he did end up getting married in the temple. I always wonder how he's doing now, if he still hates himself or if being married and having the green light set everything straight for him.

  9. Chandelle: That doesn't surprise me at all, given how the church preaches about sex. My husband is really angry about what the church taught him, too. It's just a floodgate waiting to open.