Rachel Velamur

I was raised in a strict Mormon family but left the church when I was seventeen.  Now, ten years after leaving, I write about what life was like within Mormonism and what my life is like after Mormonism.  With a staunch Mormon family and a Hindu husband, my life is about navigating the challenges and joys of interfaith relationships.  

Stop Asking About My Uterus: I'm Child-Free for My Own Reasons

I am twenty-right, married, and childless. As a result, I get a lot of questions from friends and strangers alike, most of them variations on the theme "When are you having children?" Some people are polite in their interest; others are considerably more nosy about the matter. Sometimes, these questions come from people who love me. Other times, they come from mere acquaintances, at best. Sometimes, people are willing to drop the matter after a few moments. Other times,people keep pressing for information. ...more
Sometimes, people are just stuck in their own reality. If said reality involves having children ...more

When Mormons Leave

        When I came home from my first semester of college, my sister-in-law asked me about college and if I liked the people at church. I looked at her, puzzled, until I realized she didn’t know. “I haven’t attended church in over a year.” I told her....more

Reunions

          I met an old friend this weekend.  This girl is my Mormon counterpart, the “what-if” version of a life spent inside Mormonism, rather than outside.  Our parents are long-time friends; we grew up in the same ward and attended the same school.  We were the minority Mormons in school, a fact that threw us together on a regular basis.  We were both blonde, straight-A students who went on to study biology in college.  Between early-morning seminary, our shared honors classes, and youth activities, sh...more

Why Does My State Have A Law Banning Me From Holding Public Office?

I have never considered going into politics as a serious career option.  Given my diverse background, I’ve always thought I could add something to the public sphere.  As a person with a Mormon family and Hindu in-laws, respecting religious differences is a part of my day-to-day life.  I understand what it means to worry about paying for college and what it means to grow up in a family without money or connections.  Watching my husband – a very remarkable individual – navigate the murky immigration system of this country has given me a...more

Who Owns The Term Mormon?

Polygamy is a touchy subject for many Mormons.  Mention the word polygamy to a faithful Mormon and you will observe an almost universal knee-jerk reaction – an explanation that Mormons do not practice polygamy and that polygamist groups covered in mainstream media are not Mormon.  To counter the image of polygamy, Mormon authorities made an unsuccessful attempt to trademark the term “Mormon”, as an attempt to prevent fundamenta...more

Re-Defining Priorities In Light Of A Near-Death Experience

          Two years ago I was the typical ambitious grad student; I worked my way through college and graduated from Cornell University with an honors degree.  I then enrolled in a Ph.D program in developmental biology at a top-ranked medical college.  My motivation defined me - I was content to put in the long hours necessary to complete my schoolwork and begin developing my research project.  My life's plan was mapped out for me - Ph.D, post-doc, professorship in academia....more
Rachel, I'm so very sorry about the accident. How awful, and and all the more shocking for how ...more

Separation Of Church And State

I am an agnostic.  My family is Mormon.  My husband is a Hindu who came to the U.S. for grad school.  Within this spectrum of religious and cultural identities is the beauty and promise of the American dream; we are a nation of diversity and opportunity.  We are a pluralistic society, one in which every individual’s religious and cultural identity should be respected.  The strength of the United States is in the promise of tolerance for the entire spectrum of humanity. ...more

Facebook Boundaries

          I am Facebook friends with a lot of Mormons from my childhood and adolescent years.  Some of them - mostly peers from my teenage years - I befriended.  Others friended me - some of the requests were from people I hadn’t seen in years and so I found myself at a loss as to how specific I needed to be about my break with the Mormon Church.  Should I be up-front about the issue or should I just assume they either knew or didn’t care?...more
 @Champagne Tastes Thank you, Champagne.  :)more

Mormon Testimony Meetings: Fake It 'Til You Make It

As a Mormon girl, I was taught that the best way to strengthen my faith in the Church was to practice bearing my testimony to others of the truth of the Gospel.  In the words of Dallin H....more

Modesty And Shame

         I went clothing-shopping with a friend yesterday.  I have a phobia of clothing-shopping - nothing ever fits and all of the cute outfits are not designed for my body type.  But my wardrobe is becoming a ragged affair of tattered jeans, worn-out dress pants, and pitiful shirts.  My friend is also very good at finding clothing to flatter your body type.  We walked into a store that was having a sale on jeans.  I picked out a pair of boot-cut jeans and headed to the dressing room.<...more