This is a letter I recently prepared covering all my reasons for leaving church, the beliefs I've abandoned and kept, and the benefits I've received in the process. I'm debating whether or not it would be helpful to publish/send this to my LDS friends and family. It's very long, so rather than posting the whole thing here, I've included a link so you can download it from my website. (Note: I originally had it posted here, but I keep making updates, so I deleted it and have this link so you can always get the latest version.)
Please let me know what you think, and if you think it would be wise for me to post it publicly on Facebook or on my website. (I'm worried about getting shunned and rejected by my LDS friends, but who knows what their reactions will be like...)
I enjoyed your story and find it similar to mine in several ways. The main similarity is your experiences with not being able to see the difference between feelings the Holy Ghost may give you and the feelings from non-religious events. That was the thing that made me start seriously thinking the church was not true.
I’m learning more every year about how easily deceived we are. We even deceive ourselves quite often because we want something to be true so strongly.
I remember one story a church education speaker told about himself. He did not believe in UFOs at all, but something brought him in contact with a group that did. Shortly after listening to their stories for an hour or two, he was standing on his porch at night, when he suddenly saw a light in the sky that was moving very rapidly all over the sky, making sharp turns without slowing down. It was a big ‘WOW’ moment, and for a few seconds he became a believer. Then his logical mind took over, and he steadied himself on a porch post and sighted along the post at the light. The light instantly stopped moving and never moved again. With just a slight exposure to UFO stories, his brain had manufactured wild movements that were not there. I’ve heard hundreds of stories like this and worse, where people see and believe something without any good evidence of its truthfulness. This is most likely where a lot of “visions” and “revelations” come from.
I’ve also seen many scientific studies that shows how easily influenced we are. The ease with which it happens is amazing. One striking example was a study where women’s performances in various tasks were measured before and after they were shown a commercial. The commercial had in it a very slight and hard to detect bit that could be construed as slightly negative about women. The women’s performances were dramatically reduced after seeing the commercial. Their self-confidence had been sabotaged by a very minor thing.
If we can be so easily manipulated, how can we know who or what to trust? The only way I can see is with much evidence derived from good scientific studies. Science has some good, non-supernatural explanations of “visions”, “revelations”, and other “spiritual” experiences, with lots of good evidence to back-up their explanations.
From many things I’ve seen and read, my conclusion is that, if we greatly desire something, our minds will conjure it up for us!
I knew that 116 pages story never made sense!! That's damning evidence in my book, thanks for the insight! haha.
You're letter is extremely well written. I've been trying to think of the best way to break the news to my best friend. I think that this will go over as well as it possibly can. Good luck!
You make your mother proud. Regularly. As you know, I was thrilled to receive this news from you (the one family member you knew would welcome it ) but I was so impressed and quite amazed at how quickly you processed these thoughts and feelings - without getting bogged down in the anger phase like I and so many do. Not that there's anything wrong with that... everyone has their own path to take - but your path seems particularly healthy.
Your Aunt Kathleen is here reading this with me and says "I've always appreciated your honesty - particularly in matters relating to the church/gospel. I am proud of the journey you have taken. It takes courage to be willing to examine and accept contradictions in long held beliefs. And even more courage to act upon those and follow a new path. Your letter is especially impressive in its honesty and insights, and I can see only positive, joyful experiences ahead for you and your family."
We love you!
Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read my story, and for the great feedback and kind words. I have attached an updated copy of the story for those interested. It's even longer!!! :) But it touches on a few things I forgot about that were important in my transition.
Okay, I keep finding things I want to reword differently, or add, so I'm keeping a live version of my exit story on my website, which you can download at any time at:
I'm sorry I only got to read your story today. It's one of the best and most balanced exit stories I've ever read and you convey it so eloquently, far more erudite than anything I could express.