[posted by I_Am_An_ExMormon on /r/exmormon May 9, 2017]
As an ex-Mormon, it seems that my past keeps creeping up and haunting me in many ways. I am sure that many of you can relate. I find myself in a very complex situation, although on the surface it really seems quite simple; I am an inactive member that attended BYU (Provo) as an active member (mostly), but didn’t graduate and now I wish to do so. To give you a better picture, let me elaborate on some of the important and relevant details:
- I am 100% an ex-Mormon and have no desire whatsoever to return to the church.
- I attended BYU many many years ago, and, for a lot of reasons that seemed valid to me at the time, I did not finish my degree (even though I was very very close to being eligible to apply for graduation).
- As far as they (both the church & BYU) are concerned, I am simply inactive; I have not officially had my name removed from church records.
- I have never needed a bachelor’s degree, but now I do (I am making a massive career shift/adjustment into a field that requires a degree)
Over the past few weeks, I have been in correspondence with [an Honor Code Office Employee] from the BYU Honor Code office (her contact is: XXXXXXXX@byu.edu 801-422-XXXX) and here are some key points from her:
To be clear, members who have disaffiliated from the church are not eligible to attend BYU. Inactive members are not keeping their commitment to the Honor Code and should not attend or graduate from BYU. This seems to be a question of being endorsed. Being endorsed is through the bishop of the ward where you reside and where your records reside. You can work with your bishop to work out being endorsed. It does state in the Honor Code in keeping the Honor Code that students will “Participate regularly in church services”. It would not be possible to be endorsed as a non-member since you are talking about a former member. There is a difference between a non-member and a former member. You must be endorsed to return or continue as a student at BYU. You have done your research and know that if you cannot be endorsed there is an appeal process through the Dean of Students Office to attend without an endorsement. You can work with the Dean of Students if you wish to pursue that course of action.
As stated in my earlier answer, your concern is related to being endorsed. Endorsement is in the hands of the bishop. You must work with your bishop to be eligible for being endorsed to attend any CES school. The Honor Code does state that students and employees of the university must attend church. And as you researched earlier, disaffiliation is grounds for a withdrawn endorsement. The appeal process to attend without an endorsement is available to anyone through the Dean of Students Office.
While she seems to be intentionally responding with very vague and indirect answers, if I understand her correctly, the only option available for inactive members of the church who wish to attend and graduate from BYU is to become an active member once again. Even though she seems to be presenting it as an option for me to appeal/petition to have the endorsement requirement waived if I “wish to pursue that course of action,” she seems to simultaneously be stating that this is in fact not an option because, with or without an endorsement, I would be in violation of the honor code as I am not regularly attending an LDS church.
Further, if I understand correctly, it is in fact not an option to officially disaffiliate and then re-enroll because by doing so, I would also be violating the honor code. To be totally clear, according to BYU’s own website, “Disaffiliation is defined for purposes of this policy as removal of an individual’s name from the official records of the Church.” While I repeatedly tried to make it clear to the HCO that I have in fact not officially removed my name from church records, it seems to me that she is conflating ‘disaffiliation’ and ‘inactivity.’ They also seem to be attempting to divorce these two animals that are the ecclesiastical endorsement and the honor code, but it seems pretty clear to me that this “honor” system is built in such a way that makes that in actuality totally impossible to do so; it’s really a chicken/egg type scenario.
This all makes absolutely no sense to me, and my wife seems to think this is borderline illegal, but I have explained to her that, as BYU is a private institution, they can do whatever the fuck they want with sinners like myself.
Regardless, the result and my situation is still the same– I can either become an active member again, or leave (transfer to another school).
I can fake a ‘prodigal son’ return to the church until I get an endorsement and graduate. I am beginning to feel that this last option is actually my very best option, because if I were to transfer, I would inevitably lose quite a few credits (probably half), not to mention most schools in the area where I live now don’t even have the degree I wish to earn/almost earned at BYU.
However, I am at a point in my life where I believe that dishonesty is never the right answer, and therefore I should not mislead anyone, not even BYU honor code officials (as hypocritical as all this really is), for my own gain or benefit. Karma’s a bitch, amirite? What I mean by that is that I have made my own bed here by making the mistake to enroll in BYU in the first place, and now I must deal with the consequences of that poor decision I made 10+ years ago when I was an ignorant little shit.
It just boggles my mind that BYU seems to shun former members with more harshness and judgement than non-members. It is almost vindictive. In glaring contrast to the 11th article of faith (We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.), this seems to be the perfect epitome of the scripture passage 2 Peter 2:20-22:
20 If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”
I have no animosity towards the church, but this type of behavior really makes my blood boil.
Aside from perhaps offering a bit of help to some poor soul that may be in a similar situation as myself, maybe one of you kind ex-Mormons out there will be capable of thinking about all of this from a different perspective and offer some new insight(s).
Be well, and be yourself.