Hello everyone, I am new to the post-mormon world and would like to tell my story. I am feeling a little alone right now and hope to connect with other ex-mormons to talk to and relate with. I live in North Carolina and I only know of one ex-mormon here - ironically I sometimes wish I lived back in Utah since I would have a larger ex-mormon community to connect with!
I was raised in Utah in a true-believing active family. I served a mission and was active in the LDS Church until just six months ago. However, my doubts started about 8 years ago, and I slowly grew apart from the church intellectually and only left the church formally in 2011. I was studying a lot about the origins of the universe at the time and remember specifically a book I read that laid out, with scientific information how the universe came to be, and I became open to the idea that maybe the universe just "is" - that there really may not be this divine person in heaven who created it all with his ultimate powers.
I began my skeptical study of the existence of God, not the shake my faith, but because I wanted to know if there really was an afterlife. Increasingly, through studying science and religion, it became more and more likely that God does not exist, that religion is just man's way of dealing with the very painful possibility that this life is all there is. Religion makes you feel good that there is more, that it's not pointless. When I doubted God and told someone, they said, "well I believe in God because if there wasn't a God, none of this would make any sense. What would be the point of it all?" Well, in my head I thought, why would there NEED to be a point? Nature, the universe, everything doesn't have to explain itself, it just IS. After several years of sitting in church, listening to people say "don't think too much about it, don't rely on science, just have faith", it really turned me off more and more that the Mormon church is anti-intellect, anti-science, anti-skepticism. They will claim they are not, point you to small shallow books like Mormon Scientist, which doesn't tackle the big issues and treads very lightly and unconvincingly, or say that "well, scientists don't know everything." That always makes me laugh. While true, scientists DO know a lot. Evolution has been proven as one example, but that's very hard to reconcile with the LDS and Biblical interpretation of earth's history.
So I became agnostic (not atheist, as I think any scientist or skeptic should be open to all possibilities, however how unlikely until proven otherwise) but remained in the church for several more years, even serving in very prominent positions and teaching others, all the while feeling hypocritical and that I was among blind believers - people who relied solely on "faith" - just believing because any doubt was heresy and sinful. Moroni said you can pray and ask if the book is true, you can be skeptical but get an answer. I prayed many many many times, especially at the end of my crisis of faith, and never had any spiritual experience, never had any feeling or answer. God did not respond to me. If he exists, he seems to be very elusive and difficult to communicate with. Scripture study, living the “clean life”, prayer, temple attendance, paying tithing, none of that would seem to allow me an answer to my prayers asking if God exists and the Mormon church is true. Why at the time when I would need an answer the most, would God not send his spirit to testify to me? The answer became clear, because he doesn’t exist. Therefore there must be no God, no devil, no Boogie Man out to get me, no Holy Ghost, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, elves, ghosts, leprechauns (though I do believe Garth Brooks exists, I saw him in concert once and while I don’t listen to country much, he was f’ing amazing!)
Once I was down that path, I freaked out a little, knowing this life is IT, how sad! I hoped the church was still true, I started investigating for myself. If it was true, the truth should reveal itself. However, learning about the problems with the Book of Abraham and it’s Egyptian translation was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. How could an entire religion believe one man’s claims he translated it correctly, when Egyptologists have independently verified the translations are not as Joseph Smith’s claims.
Next came the church’s homophobic policies. I am straight, but I have a friend who is gay, and I don’t see how there is no place for her in this church. She was born that way, she didn’t choose it, yet she cannot find attraction to men. She has always been attracted to women since she was little, yet the church would say it is her choice to be that way, that having sexual relations (or even just kissing) someone of the same gender is sinful. There is no place for her in this church, nobody she can marry in the temple without it being a lie to herself and to them.
Finally, what I really cannot get past is the church’s historical racial policies against African-Americans. Why would Brigham Young and other church leaders say such hateful things about race, and why would the church not allow African Americans to hold the priesthood until 1976 – even long after the Civil Rights movement had died down and been resolved? The church had adopted un-popular policies in the past (Polygamy) without regard to consequence, why not allow Black to hold the priesthood? Why hide the statements by church leaders about the curse of Cain and the dark skin references in the Book of Mormon?
Other things that caused me to leave the church: Belief in a literal flood in Noah’s time (seriously Christians around the world accept this as fact?), Joseph Smith’s polygamist practices to marry teenage girls and women who were already married, Moses committing genocide on women and children in the book of Numbers, death before the fall, Jonah and the Whale (really?), Joseph F. Smith’s failed prophecies, DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon, Translation errors in the bible’s book of Isaiah also appearing in the Book of Mormon, evolution, Adam-God as pronounced to be true by Brigham Young, Blood Atonement, hiding things from church history, I could go on.
After a while, you realize that all of this doesn’t add up. I am no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and despite what just about every mormon would believe would happen, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER! I am living the life that I have, as I CHOOSE, loving my children, and working to establish a better relationship with my ex-wife, who is still a faithful member, and believes I am going to hell. That makes me sad – not just that she judges me, but that she is in an intellectual trap that won’t allow her to see outside the church, that will forever hold her hostage. Its just sad that my move towards aethiesm/agnosticism would contribute so much to the downfall of our marriage. There were other factors, but that was one of the major issues that came between us.
Being “born under the convenient”, I did not choose the church, it chose me. I have chosen to leave it and it is the best decision I have ever made. I just wish I had made it earlier. Seeing the church from the outside looking in is simply amazing and while I would never try and lead others out of the church or encourage them, I hope to help anyone who is opening their mind and thinking for themselves, realizing they have been living a lie. I hope to hear from you and what you think of my experience. There is a lot more to tell, but not what I would feel comfortable saying here, but thank you for listening!
Solo - interesting path you have taken. All of us that study science have to wrestle with that question of the existence of God. As a guy with a BS in Physics and a MS in "Space Operations" which allowed me to write a thesis on the physics of the Earth's magnetosphere (pretty dry stuff unless you are into electric and magnetic fields!)...
Certainly creatures evolved - with complex circulatory systems, digestive systems, and brains to name a few. We can see that there is a range of simple creatures to very complex creatures - there are NO sudden jumps in complexity. Each creature is just a small change from a more simple one.
The amazing thing to me, and the reason that I am a Christian (attending a Methodist church after having grown up Catholic) is the presence of intelligence and self-awareness. Why do chimpanzees and whales appear to not pass on knowledge to their young? Why are there not a dozen intelligent species on our planet, all competing with each other?
I can believe in evolution to produce a complex creature but we should either have many intelligent species or no intelligent species.
I do not pretend to understand God but I believe because there is only one intelligent species on our planet. Certainly many people could argue convincingly against that idea but it makes sense to me.
Much of religion is a desire for a simpler time where our ancestors found the truth and passed it on to us. Dietary laws grow from experience that predates scientific knowledge for instance.
A lot of what Jesus taught is contradictory to "common sense" which tells us to grab what we can while we can. Many people even see their children as people to prop up their egos, not as people that should do better than their parents - both economically and spiritually.
Perhaps people are evolving spiritually as well as physically? Maybe we are leaving superstition and rules that worked many years ago behind? Maybe we are reinventing ourselves by slowly (and mostly secretly) moving away from many of the rules that our ancestors gave us? The people who run our religions and scientific institutions and governments cannot afford to make a sudden break in what they teach, but they can slowly change. Maybe if people encourage the change we could speed it up?
Reading your story I recognize myself. I was a convert. started going to church when I was 14. Got baptized at 17 and today I am 42 and left the church after doubts building.. My doubts came from reading the scriptures.
I am gluten intolerant and realized this about two years ago. And also realizing then how common this intolerance is.. And yet the D&C 89 PROMISES us that if we follow the WOW , eating the wheat that god created for us, we will be healthy. Well, science and my own body tells me it is not so!!
Instead I stated doing exactly the opposite of the WOW, I went on a low carb, grain free diet. And got healthy. Listening to the conference in April the only thing that stuck with me was the quote: You can't be right if you are doing wrong, and you can't be wrong if you are doing right. So here I am, doing 'wrong' and I am healthy. So therefore the WOW can't be right!!
I have not been to church for about 6 months. My family still goes. My children have a hard time accepting this, they are young. I don't feel anger towards the church, I also don't feel that it is something evil that my children has to be saved from.
I believe they are smart humans, and one day I will be able to explain to them why I did what I did.
My marriage is falling apart, but not because of this. Maybe thanks to this? i believe I married my husband because he could take me to the Temple, but today I want more. I am the one leaving. If he wants to stay in the church, he should have a little woman by his side that is active mormon also. And that won't be me.