Once upon a time…

…there was a little girl named Natalie. She was born into a home of believing Mormons. And she was taught, from an early age, that she had the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, and the ONLY TRUE GOSPEL.And as long as you went to church every Sunday, and paid a faithful tithe, and bore your testimony, you would be allowed into God’s top Kingdom, the Celestial Kingdom.

But the little girl, Natalie, had a hard time believing this. How could God love such a small group of people and not love all the others? Natalie wondered about this a lot. And questioned it. And got in trouble for it.

Obviously, Natalie is me. Was me. Will always be me. I learned, through questioning everything, that all the other people, the non-Mormons, the gentiles, would have a chance to accept the gospel in the afterlife. And in the meantime, we would be busy baptizing them so they could go to God’s highest kingdom.

“But what if they don’t want to be Mormon,” I asked my mutual/young women’s adviser as we headed in to the Salt Lake Temple to do Baptisms for the Dead.

I got a look that could have peeled the skin off a cat. “Well, why wouldn’t they? It’s the only true thing.”

So we just kept baptizing them, and it didn’t matter what they or their families wanted. It was what OUR God wanted.

Because we were special. But I never felt special. Somehow, inside, I knew this was wrong.

When I was growing up, I was taught that Blacks could not receive the priesthood because they had sinned, and had the mark of Cain on them. You know the story of Cain and Abel? Yeah, that one.Somehow, that has all disappeared. God decided it was all okay. And the faithful are smiling and happy and the rest of us are going WTF? It’s that’s simple. BYU had teams who were not willing to play them because of their racist beliefs, and SO magically God changes his mind.

If they tell you the beliefs were not racist, they were and are. Even a child can tell you that. To say that someone made a choice in the pre-existence, and NOW they were what they were because of that choice… that is racism. I chose a white Mormon family, and my black friends did not? My gay friends chose to be gay? Children in India chose to live in a slum? Can you see the problem here? I could.

How can the belief that you chose who you were going to be in the pre-existence not be racist, sexist or derogatory? “Well that black woman there on welfare chose it. She followed Satan instead of Jesus.”

Did you know that Satan and Jesus are brothers? Yeah, we were taught that one, too.

I questioned a lot and got in trouble a lot, and finally I said, I don’t believe this.

And it caused a huge rift in my family. And it also caused problems for me. Because, all my life I had been told what was right and what was wrong. Now, now that I had realized there was no right or wrong, I had nothing to tie myself to. And I got a little lost.

But I was lucky. I had parents who really did love me. Who, despite years and years of trying to bring me back into the fold, still loved me, apostasy and all.

I still fight these beliefs, from time to time. I also earned disdain and discipline from these comments. Don’t question. Just listen. Just believe. it’s called FAITH. What they tell you is right. You won’t be lead astray.

So letting the man go, the man who held me and my sister and two friends at gunpoint, and telling us to strip, wasn’t astray? I was six. My sister was eight. Talk about astray. He was the poster child for astray.

The police came and questioned us. They found him. They arrested him. But charges were dropped, mostly because the church convinced my parents to do so. Because he had just started a new life, with a wife and a small child. And meanwhile he was in the mountains below Farmington, stalking innocent young children playing as children will do. Innocent, until someone takes it away from them.

I remember I lost my shoes. But I wouldn’t turn back. I would not, because he said if we did he would kill us.

And I didn’t want to die.

And yet….they let him go.

And even at six, I knew something was wrong with that.

My friend, Diana, is a former police officer and FBI agent, and she told me that the story I told from Farmington, Utah, was dead on. That WAS what happened there. The “church” tried to take care of things. Often with horrible results.

Of course, I learned all this later.  And this event in my life was a huge part of the beginning of the story WIVES AND SISTERS. Why is the church disciplining and letting abusers go? My mother told me she heard he went to prison later.That’s nice. What about us?

He threatened to KILL us if we didn’t take our clothes off.

Did I mention I was six? And when my sister repeatedly refused, and told him he would have to kill us, he finally gave in, firing shots in the air, and telling us to run for our lives and not look back. Because if we did, he would kill us.

This is not right. This is not my God. And this is why I am an ex-Mormon.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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2 Responses to Once upon a time…

  1. Janie Jones says:

    and this is why I left that cult never to grace their doors again and my only daughter is still trapped by the mormons. Glad I came across these writings.Thank you!


  2. Natalie–what can anyone say to that? How terrifying, and horrible, and awful!!!! I hope that your writing is healing for you, as much as it is for all the people who get to read your wonderful books.


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