I can still remember my initial ecclesiastical endorsement interviews with my bishop and stake president. Unlike other college interviews where I was asked about ambitions and accomplishments, in these interviews I was asked if I understood and could follow the BYU Honor Code. When my bishop asked me to describe the Honor Code, I said that it held students to the standards described in the LDS “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. He agreed. I was accepted to BYU.
At 17 years old, leaving home for the first time, I couldn’t imagine my faith ever changing. The LDS church was the foundation of my life, and I loved it as much as the next Molly Mormon. I still have warm memories of caring Young Women leaders and supportive ward communities. However, my dedication to the gospel didn’t stop the unimaginable from happening. As I opened my mind to new ideas in college, I found myself using the same scrutiny in my D&C class as I used in my history classes. I started to re-evaluate my beliefs.
I was struggling with justifying a belief system based on faith when I discovered a whole new enormous side to the church that I had never been introduced to. Over the course of a few weeks, my soul shattered as I was forced to cast aside my entire worldview in order to find truth.
Still reeling from shock, I couldn’t believe it when I found out I would be expelled from BYU if I left the LDS church. The Honor Code I was familiar with required students to dress appropriately, abstain from certain substances, use clean language, be respectful, be chaste, and be honest. I had never known that former LDS students were not allowed to attend BYU. And I think that even if I had known about the policy when I applied to BYU, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it because I couldn’t have imagined ever leaving the church.
Thus, two years into my education at BYU, I was forced to transfer to a new university so that I could keep my integrity and honor. I have left behind my best friends, a great job, the home I found in Provo, and many university credits. I would have happily paid the non-member tuition if I could have stayed at BYU and lived true to myself. I am so grateful for the work Free BYU is doing to help others who will be in my position in the future. Religious freedom should not be an issue in 21st century America.