Janet and Lars Bergeson recently held a prewedding lawn party for their son at their home, surrounded by farms on a bluff in sight of Mount Bergeson. The landmark, named for a Swedish Mormon who arrived in 1860, is a reminder of their ancestors’ religion.
The couple left the fold long ago, so they knew they would not be allowed to attend the temple wedding and eternal sealing of their son, Nils Bergeson, 24, to Emily O’Hara, 25. The young couple are Mormons in good standing who hope to join the Peace Corps.
Despite years away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, being shut out of a family affair in the temple rekindled dormant emotions for Janet Bergeson, 52, as the rest of the family prepared for the wedding. Comfort came from users of a Web site that Mrs. Bergeson began participating in about six months ago, www.PostMormon.org.
“Just being able to discuss these things online, that’s helped me shape where I am today,” she said.
The Web site is the primary focus of the Post-Mormon Community, a nonprofit group founded in 2002 that tries to help those struggling after a loss of faith, said Jeff Ricks, the executive manager of the organization.
Some arrive at PostMormon.org shunned by family members or doubting a doctrine. Some PostMormon.org visitors are gay, many in heterosexual marriages and with children, Mr. Ricks said. A few have been officially disciplined or excommunicated. The common denominator, though, is that they seek an anonymous and confidential way to find support, he said.
The Web site is one of several that attract Mormons who have left the faith or are questioning it. Another, www.exMormonFoundation.org, additionally says its mission is to unveil the “harm” caused by the church and to provide a “countervoice on Mormonism.” A third site, www.exmormon.org, provides support, though it also attracts “ex Mormons,” a term that some say connotes anti-Mormonism. Indeed, exmormon.org has a large archive of arguments against the church and its doctrines.