Mormon family balances atheism and faith

thumb Faith In One AnotherFor the first 10 years of their marriage, David and Karene Reil were both devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — more commonly known as the Mormon Church.

Over the past few years however, David, a lifelong member of the church, says that he found himself increasingly questioning the "unanswered" questions of Mormonism.

"It's not really a Q-and-A kind of religion," he says. "It is more 'here is the dogma.'
They want you to adopt this dogma.

"They are not really all that concerned about whether you understand it."

After struggling to reconcile the increasing distance he felt from his faith, David decided to formally leave the church in 2013. He says he now considers himself an atheist.

Karene, who says that her faith makes her "a better person," remains an active member of the church.

"It brings me comfort and confidence," she says. "It brings me hope.

"It helps me to keep going when trials come."

According to Mormon doctrine, David's decision to leave the church may impact Karene's chance of eternal life.

On its website, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states the view that marriage as a "union" that is "not merely between husband and wife" but that also "embraces a partnership with God."

Interfaith marriage — where two spouses do not share the same religion — is neither encouraged nor common within the Latter-day Saint church community. According to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York in 2001, only 12 per cent of Mormon families in the United States identified as interfaith.

Although he is no longer an active member of the church, David continues to support Karene in her faith and regularly attends Sunday services with her. The couple's two children — aged two and four years old — also accompany their parents to church.

Produced by Haley Anderson and Karry Taylor

Despite his professed identity as an atheist, David says that he is "culturally still a Mormon" and wishes to pass that aspect of the faith on to his children. He remains active in non-religious aspects of the congregation that he and his family attend.

"Even though I don't believe what is coming over the pulpit, I still want to see my community every Sunday," he says.

While both David and Karene admit that the Latter-day Saint view of marriage raises difficulties and questions for them as a couple, the two remain committed to keeping an open dialog and to supporting one another in their respective beliefs.

Currently a policy studies student at Mount Royal University, David is an active member, and current vice-president, of the campus Secular Humanists club. The club's mandate is to provide opportunities for open and frank discussion and debate about topics such as religion.

"I didn't just marry 'the Mormon guy,'" Karene says. "I married David. I try to focus on that.

"We don't share the same spiritual beliefs anymore. I don't know what will happen, but I have hope that we will be together forever."

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