Assignment #1: What did we miss with our study?

OK….for those of you who have either left the LDS church, or who no longer believe that it is the true church — I would like to find out what we missed in our report about the reasons you left (or stopped believing in) the church.  So here’s how you can help:

1) Please read through pages 8 & 9 of this report found here.  Again, pages 8-9 are really all you need to read.

2) Then please provide feedback in the comments section below about what we missed in our description of why you left (or stopped believing in) the church.

Excited to find out what we left out, I can include it in the book!!!


263 comments for “Assignment #1: What did we miss with our study?

  1. Sker
    February 1, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Hypocrisy & Lies From the “True” church
    1 – City Creek Center. Inappropriate use of consecrated funds.
    2 – Lies about social repercussions told to promote prop 8. The stance was bad enough but I have a much bigger problem about lying to make their point.
    2 – Church’s inability to repent on stance changes

    • February 1, 2014 at 12:36 am

      These are super helpful. Thanks, Sker!

      • Erik
        February 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

        Historicity of the Pentateuch. Clearly JS believed the Genesis narratives to be referentially true. Obviously academia (spent too many years here) shows that Genesis is largely allegorical and the patriarchs (adam, moses, abraham etc) are works of fiction and are not considered historical characters. That being said what the church uses most heavily to separate itself from others is the priesthood. However JS claimed to receive the priesthood from people that never existed (ie Adam, Moses etc). in other words not only does this show that the priesthood is a construct, but that he was lying about his visitations and that much of his theology is fabricated. This was a big one for me, in fact historical criticism of the hebrew Bible really harms the credibility of the prophet. Another example: Babel. Jaredites descend from Babel. Again Babel is a construct (created in part on the social memory of the ziggurat by Hebrew scribes), I read 2 languages that are older than Babel apparently was (let alone the entire field of linguistics). So we can show quite clearly, using just one example, that the Book of Mormon cannot be taken as historical, again in my mind its a fabrication. Mormonism cannot embrace historical criticism without acknowledging that much of what it promotes as unique and sacred- is a mere fabrication

  2. Martha Hales
    February 1, 2014 at 12:32 am

    It’s been a while since I’ve read the report, and I don’t have time to re-read it now, so I hope what I’m saying here isn’t redundant.

    I was a very earnest person who felt I should “know,” and never got that undeniable confirmation I was looking for. My crisis of faith started in the late 70s over the church’s behavior around the ERA and my beginning to see the truth about patriarchy and the role of women in the church, but I stuck around for over a decade trying to make it work.

    The ultimate reason that I left was that I realized I was incapable of knowing who I was and what I really believed while in the church culture with so much pressure to conform. I had been so indoctrinated in the fear of how bad it was to “fall away” that for a long time I didn’t even dare read Dialogue or other writings that might have actually helped me stay in.

    By the time I moved East and hung out with the Exponent II women, I already had one foot out the door. For me, leaving gave me the breathing room that I needed. I told myself that I was just taking a sabbatical, but once I’d had a chance to be free of it, I never looked back.

    I didn’t leave because I was bothered by church history, and I think if I were still a Mormon, I would probably be one of those people who finds a way to hold the polarities, because I liked the bottom line message.

    For me, it was really just a matter of saving my soul from an emotionally unhealthy environment. I don’t recall that reason being covered in your study, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who left for that type of reason.

    • February 1, 2014 at 12:37 am

      This is also super helpful. Thanks, Martha!!!

    • Lindsay
      February 1, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      I echo the final paragraph (saving my soul from an emotionally unhealthy environment). My mental health suffered because I was too hard on myself in an effort to become more spiritual. I took the church’s teachings very very seriously and kept humbling myself to get closer to God but it eventually resulted in internal breakdown. I feel so much better without belief in those doctrines that kept me from contentment.

      • Jeanmarie Todd
        February 2, 2014 at 12:38 am

        I can relate!

      • February 2, 2014 at 7:38 am

        Thank you, Lindsay!

  3. Ryan S
    February 1, 2014 at 12:50 am

    The lists on pages 8 and 9 are quite comprehensive for the major reasons people leave the church. However, for me, a very key, underlying aspect was learning that the spirit/emotions are not a reliable source for determining truth, as I had previously been taught.

    Even if I knew all the major issues that are listed on pages 8 and 9, I would not have been able to completely leave the church if I was still convinced that the “spirit” had already testified truth, even if it was in contradiction to all of the reasons listed.

    Even though I experienced cognitive dissonance after thorough investigation of the major points listed, I left because I came to a realization that the “spirit” was not what I thought it was, and it was not a truth indicator. This is what ultimately opened the door to me understanding all the issues listed and leaving.

    • February 1, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Very helpful. Thanks, Ryan!

    • DG
      February 1, 2014 at 10:40 am

      This was the central issue for me too in losing my belief.

      • BGV
        February 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm

        While I agree with many of the reasons others have listed, I could reconcile almost everything (though, by the time of leaving I was no longer seeking reconciliation) but this: the relying on emotion to determine truth.

        In the end, this is the biggest determining factor in why I left.

      • February 2, 2014 at 7:40 am

        Thanks, DG!

      February 2, 2014 at 12:42 am

      This deeply resonates with me. I wish I could add this point to my comment below! I’m a naturally emotional person, and so always thought that meant I was spiritual (I would cry easily at things like testimony meeting, so I must have been feeling the spirit, right?). I later came to appreciate rationality and critical thinking, but my experience in the church placed an unhealthy emphasis on emotional reasoning. It has caused me endless problems throughout my life. Emotions are important, but they are not highly accurate truth-telling compasses.

      • February 2, 2014 at 7:42 am

        Thanks, jaytee3!

  4. JackUK
    February 1, 2014 at 12:54 am

    John, I have struggled with the culture of certainty in the Church. The constant assertion of faith positions as facts and absolutes. The suspicion of members towards those of us who express doubt and questioning and the exclusion of those who express anything resembling dissent.

    • February 1, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Very good. Thank you, JackUK!!!

  5. Emilee
    February 1, 2014 at 12:59 am

    From what I hear (and I could be hearing wrong), one of the largest demographics leaving the church is singles. In addition to many of the issues stated in the report (historical issues, treatment of women, doctrinal issues, treatment of homosexuals, etc.), that is what I would add to the list why people leave.

    People in the church that are single are sick of being told that they are delaying marriage, that they put too much emphasis on education, that they “hang out” too much, and other such lies. They’re sick of being treated like children because of their single status alone (chaperons at dances for adults?!). They are sick of members treating them like a disease (married men seem terrified to engage in a conversation with a single woman (irrational fears of affairs) and married women act like single women will steal their husbands). They are sick of every single talk, lesson, comment in church being about family and marriage and never anything for the benefit of singles other than the occasional law of chastity talk in which they are told that they are expected to remain celibate for life (ironically by people who married at 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old).

    And, perhaps, most of all: single members start to realize that they’ve been told their whole lives that the only thing of importance is to get married and, if they do X, Y, Z (missions, be faithful, go to church, etc, etc.), they will receive the “blessing” of marriage. When that blessing never comes, you begin to wonder if every other promise/claim of the church is also not true.

    • February 1, 2014 at 1:03 am

      Yes. This is very important. Thanks, Emilee!!!!

    • Zara
      February 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      This! The cult of marriage in the church is off-putting to say the least, and smart, capable young women are being indoctrinated to stifle their own interests in favor of becoming someone’s wife and mother and nothing else. It’s damaging, and people are becoming less and less willing to raise their daughters in an institution that assigns them to long-outdated gender roles.

      Also, the “sex is the next most serious sin to murder” rhetoric is extremely damaging, and also not true. It’s a way for the institution to control its members and keep them in line. The older a single member gets, the more they wonder why they’ve let the church control their humanity, and the less in touch with their own selves they feel. They are not taken seriously by members of their own church, and they don’t fit in with people outside the church.

      Another issue I have with the church in its current state is that it has become indistinguishable from the Republican party. “Doing what’s right” is not based in scripture; it’s based in current conservative thought. There is no room for disagreement. Charity is not charity–it’s “discouraging members from abusing entitlements.” Leaders are worshiped more than Christ. Church has become boring and stifling, and it is NOT the same church I grew up in.

      • February 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

        Thank you, Zara. Very helpful.

    • Jeanmarie Todd
      February 2, 2014 at 12:46 am

      I relate so strongly to this. This was definitely part of my experience. I left while a member of a singles ward. As I told my mother at the time, “it’s hard to be single in this church” after a certain age.

      John, do you have a way to add Like buttons to this page??

      • February 2, 2014 at 8:06 am

        Jeanmarie – I couldn’t find a solid “Comments like” feature. Let me know if you can help me find one!!!

  6. Dan Scannell
    February 1, 2014 at 1:17 am

    I have to say that, aside from what you showed on those pages, my biggest reasons for losing my faith included:

    1) Tithing and the Finances of the Church. I didn’t realize how much they really bring in and how little they really spend. I also didn’t know that they do not have to report to anybody anything about their finances. They are responsible to no one. I also didn’t know that they only spent 2.4 billion dollars on humanitarian aid, while they spent up to around 5 billion dollars on the City Creek Mall and other downtown SLC renovations related to the new mall. This, and their increasing unwillingness to spend money on the members. They stopped paying for custodian work, so they recruit the members to donate their time to clean the church for free. They are insistent on telling people to ask anyone else for financial support before asking the church, if they are in need. They are still encouraged to pay tithing no matter how much they may be struggling, and this is seen as a great virtue. And once American laws changed to allow church institutions like the LDS church to withhold reporting financial information, they immediately did so and show no sign of guilt for it. This was the biggest factor that first dealt a massive blow to my faith.

    2) The frailty of using emotion as confirmation of the spirit, and the circular reasoning behind the truthfulness of the spirit. Feeling the spirit is the ONLY way to know the church is true for a fact. And if you feel anything that RESEMBLES what we understand to be the spirit, it COULD be Satan in disguise and really is only the spirit if it confirms what the leaders of the church are telling you. Also, they are pretty good at trying to convince you that absolutely anything can be the spirit testifying to you, like a thought coming into your head, a feeling, a coincidence, a tragedy, a lucky break, absolutely anything. Realizing the lack of credibility to this method for discovering truth was painful, and they need to stop using this as their primary (and only) method of proof for the truthfulness of the church.

    My other main reasons have been covered, mainly the problems with the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon in general, the truth of Joseph and his polyandry/polygamy (particularly who he married and the circumstances leading up to it), the truth of Joseph being a con man who used seer stones and even went to trial over it, and how apparently he used a seer stone in a hat to supposedly translate the BoM rather than translating the plates using the Urim and Thummim which is exactly what the church has instilled in my head, the truth about the origination of the First Vision, the truth about the Kinderhook Plates, the truth about why Joseph went to Carthage jail and why he was murdered, the truth of how badly he and the other early leaders followed the Word of Wisdom, and seeing the original transcript that he wrote for the Book of Mormon before it was heavily edited and published (it included loads of terrible grammar that obviously came from some uneducated country farm boy rather than an all-knowing, master-of-all-languages God), among many other things.

    • February 2, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Thank you, Dan!

  7. Gary Widdison
    February 1, 2014 at 1:18 am

    The issues listed seem specific to Mormonism as distinguished from Christianity in general. In my case–and I believe this applies to many–acceptance of the strange miracle stories in both the Bible and BofM began to unravel simultaneously. The Noah flood and the creation story, Lot’s family’s story, etc. were problems for me even before I developed issues with Mormonism’s unique claims. One of my early problems with Mormonism was the Church’s wholesale acceptance of the universal flood and the other OT stories that sounded more like Greek myths than the workings of a serious God. When I learned about the PGP papyri, it reinforced the already bothersome lack of evidence for the whole Moses-in-Egypt story. I think the Church’s acceptance of the OT as literal was the earliest leak in my faith dike.

    • February 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Thanks, Gary!!!

  8. February 1, 2014 at 1:24 am

    As an artist, musician and as someone who finds it natural to be free with self expression with fashion, peircings, and tattoos, I have always felt like the church demonizes the counter culture. The leaders have said specific things about people like us and they are usually not true. I remember one such talk that said people with tattoos are worldly and godless for example. I was really hurt and offended. There are also converts to the church that would be hurt by members judging them because of these untruths that are spoken from the pulpit about counter-culture people. The church leaders only seem to be welcoming if you are conservative, strait, and a blind follower. Any one who challenges the status quo like i did, and especially anyone who speaks their mind in church will have a very difficult time. I also left because i married a non-member and realized I suddenly no longer had an eternal family. I realized how unloving a God would be who would keep apart people who love each other in the afterlife because a beaurocratic ordinance was not performed.Other temple policies such as having to wait a year if you want to enjoy a civil wedding with non-member loved ones started to seem unfair. then my sister became a found widow and cannot be sealed again to anyone else so she is now dating outside the church since most mormon men wish to be sealed to have their own “eternal family”.In a nutshell, for me, I just decided that the demonizing of people who are different or gay and all the harmful temple policies and polygamist practices were not worth the pain to believe in it all any longer. Oh-and the spiritual/religious abuse that I encountered with the patriarchy in the church was the last straw.The fact that men are in charge of just about everything does the church a real disservice and underutilizes women in major ways. I could go on and on, but those are some of my main issues.

    • Andrea Alexander
      February 1, 2014 at 6:14 am

      Oh, this is HUGE! This might be the BIGGEST category! This is why my teen daughter left. Dyed hair, wears pants to church and bikinis to the beach — chastised weekly at church. She’ll never fit in. This is why virtually all the converts leave too.

      • February 3, 2014 at 8:07 am

        Thanks, Andrea!

    • February 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Excellent. Thank you, Katrina.

    • KP
      February 3, 2014 at 11:45 pm

      I have not left the church but am teetering on the edge. I married my wife after she converted and was baptized. She also has tattoos, multiple piercings (and continues to wear multiple earrings), and is Asian (not that race matters…but it definitely adds to her being a minority when you combine all of the “differences” above from the rest of the ward). Most of her tattoos are covered and I think that many members would have a heart attack if they saw her in her bikini 🙂

      Anyway, one thing that I would like to point out that isn’t common knowledge (I say that because I had to correct both my bishop and my stake president on the matter) is that you ARE allowed to get sealed sooner than one year after being married civilly (as long as you are worthy – aka didn’t have sex before the civil wedding). In my case, my “girlfriend” was baptized in January. We were engaged in April. We were married (civilly) in October. And we were then sealed in February.

      The handbook states that in such circumstances (one or both were baptized and thus couldn’t be sealed because one year had not passed since the baptism) one doesn’t have to wait a year from the wedding, rather only a year from the date of baptism.

      We knew of this because my dad was a bishop and we had read the manual – as such, we had the whole thing planned out.

      When we scheduled an interview with our bishop to get a recommend to get sealed, he told us that we had to wait until one year from the wedding. We corrected him and he was extremely apologetic and said he had never dealt with such a circumstance before.

      When we showed up to our interview with the Stake President, he was trying to turn us away without even hearing me out. This was obviously very off-putting. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news” …”but we’re going to have to reschedule this interview – you can’t be sealed for another 8 months” When I tried to explain that the handbook qualifies circumstances such as ours, he wasn’t having it. Who was this 25 year old telling a stake president what is and isn’t allowed. He literally wasn’t even going to look into it and crush our “eternal marriage” because of his pride. I finally told him to PLEASE open the handbook and read it. He did so and we sat there in awkward silence in his office for 5 minutes while he read the handbook. He admitted to being wrong but wasn’t apologetic like our bishop and rather than showing genuine care for us, seemed to be more concerned with the fact that he was wrong..almost just more upset than anything.

      All in all it worked out, but was a battle for our unique situation…so if there’s anyone else out there in a similar situation, I hope this helps.

  9. Michelle Smith
    February 1, 2014 at 1:26 am

    I am surprised there is not one mention about the pressure to get and stay married at all costs. Did this survey get distributed to the single adult wards? Many members and leaders have openly acknowleged to me that it is very difficult to be single in this religion. And there was at least one Ensign article about that very topic, including that singles are highly prone to leaving the church. We had one brother who was inactive unless and until he brought a girlfriend he wanted to convert to church! When these women broke up with him, he went inactive again. Oy.

    I was converted to LDS during a horrid divorce from an abusive man. The whole ward was extremely supportive of me during this time. I felt so safe and happy with my new compassionate, supportive friends, and the intense scripture study.

    But immediately after baptism and finalization of divorce, I was pressured to remarry quickly! Members tried to set me up with their priesthood-holding relatives and friends. I wisely resisted, as I took the advice of more than one counselor to not even date until an entire year after the divorce was final. In the meantime, I was personally friends with and witnessed 2 divorced and widowed sisters remarry men they barely knew, because they were nearly forced into it! And they are miserable!

    And of course, I found out that as a single mom, I will never reach the Celestial Realm. And I cannot be sealed in the temple to my own beloved child! Incredible penalties for fleeing abuse. This is just more abuse heaped upon women and children.

    Eventually, my child and I were marginalized and discriminated against for being from a divorced family. My child was literally, overtly bullied by other children for only being able to attend church every other weekend. Anytime I said the word “divorce” an awkward silence and changing of the subject followed. Embarrassment and shame filled the silence.

    This church and its members refuse to acknowlege that there is such a thing as a righteous, blessed divorce. I am to this day dumbfounded at the 180 turnaround from the very people who supported me during my divorce!

    There is another, horrifying reason that people leave: Physical and sexual abuse perpetrated upon them by “TBM” family AND church leaders. I have come in contact with innumerable women who were beaten and molested by family and trusted church leaders, and were rebuffed, blamed and shamed when they tried to report it. Those women are not likely to come forward for this survey, and that is a crying shame. Crimes against persons and illegal coverups are being committed in this church on the same level as we are learning about the Catholic church.

    • katrina whitney
      February 1, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Amen-I have talked to tons of women who have been abused by so called faithful believing members and leaders. They have a really hard time bringing their abusers to justice in the male-dominated culture and mask of perfection that is so prevalent in mormon culture. This is a big reason i started ‘Utah Survivors and Outsiders”-to bring these many stories to light and help heal the harmful and bad fruits of the mormon culture in Utah.

      • AP
        February 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm

        Took a lot of courage to post here. I am not sure that I will ever heal from the abuse. The only way I thought I could move on with my life and distance myself from harm was to resign and get away from the source.

        Michelle Smith stated it well in her response above –

        There is another, horrifying reason that people leave: Physical and sexual abuse perpetrated upon them by “TBM” family AND church leaders. I have come in contact with innumerable women who were beaten and molested by family and trusted church leaders, and were rebuffed, blamed and shamed when they tried to report it.

        • February 3, 2014 at 8:13 am

          Thank you for sharing, AP.

      • February 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

        Thanks, Katrina!

    • b
      February 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      So so true. I was raped. My bishop told me to repent and put me on probation because I had broken the law of chastity. Are you freaking kidding me? This was in 1994. Unfortunately I hear many similar stories even today.

      • SM
        February 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        Well. My bishop was somewhat kinder. When I was raped and finally worked up the courage to tell him, he simply told me that it wasn’t my fault and closed the discussion. So, not helpful but obviously could have been so much worse.

        Meanwhile, I know a convicted child molester who does not stay current on sex offender registry and has remarried multiple times and is a full member in good standing, temple marriage every time.

        One of the boys I grew up with molested his sisters and raped several of my friends. They have no problem with him.

        But I’ve seen the suspicion with which they regard single adult women… as if they’re all Jezebels and having them around and unattached to a man is putting all the members’ marriages at risk.

        The hyper-patriarchal structure functionally enables abuse and shelters abusers.

      • February 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

        Thank you for sharing, b.

    • February 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Thank you, Michelle!

  10. Anonymous
    February 1, 2014 at 1:28 am

    In addition to all of the historical and sociological stuff that is somewhat common to the disaffected, I had the following issues:

    1-Where is current prophesies and revelation on issues pertinent to our time? Our society is obese, yet some of the most unhealthy meals I’ve ever eaten have been at ward functions. Our air in the Wasatch front is horrible at times. What about global warming? Where is the inspired leadership?

    2- I was troubled by the observation that lifelong discipleship in the Church sometimes has the effect of turning people into stark, raving right-wing fanatics. I’m not talking about simply disagreeing about politics. I’m talking about people that expect the Chinese or Koreans to invade any day. I’m talking about people that think Obama is the anti-christ.

    3- Related to issue number two, is my observation that nothing is crazier than a mormon crazy person. Everybody (at least in Utah) knows several people that are just so far off the deep end. You don’t hear about crazy Presbyterians, but crazy Mormons are all around us. I have several cousins that believe Gordon B. Hinkley was descended from dragons that I guess interbred with humans or something.

    4- I was bothered by the tendency for many local leaders to concentrate on the letter of the law and not the spirit. For instance, my current Bishop once announced in Ward Council that it is apostacy to hold a baby with two hands when blessing it in a circle. The voice must hold the baby with one hand while his other is on the shoulder of the guy next to him in the circle. The Bishop was quite pissed off about this. He went on and on for the whole hour.

    5- I hate feeling like sometimes when I go to Church, I’m attending a meeting of the Republican Party. I wish they’d minimize the political stuff.

    6- Becoming aware of deceptive statements irritated me. Like Hinkley saying any tithe paying mormon is privy to Church finances if they ask or that polygamy wasn’t doctrinal.

    7- I dislike our watered down lessons at Church. Our manuals are written more to children or new converts.

    8- I despise listening to a talk or a lesson about a General Conference talk.

    9- I’m bothered that the Church never apologizes for anything (ie, racial discrimination).

    10- I’m bothered by the concept that when the Prophet speaks, the debate is over and we should just mindlessly obey. This is a somewhat recent development.

    11- I’m bothered by the unequal treatment of males versus females. My 11 year old girl has Activity Days once every two weeks and she learns how to set tables and iron clothes. The boys her age go weekly and they race boats and play sports.

    12- I’m bothered that the Church doesn’t announce that a spouse changing or losing faith is not an adequate reason for divorce.

    13- While on the subject of divorce (fyi, I’m happily married to a like minded girl), didn’t Christ have some harsh words about divorce and that is was only justified in certain circumstances. Mormons get divorced all the time for trivial reasons and it’s no big deal. We obviously pick and choose what teachings of Jesus we’re going to emphasize. FYI, I’m not anti-divorce. I’m anti-divorce for trivial reasons.

    14- I’m bothered by the way the Church treats doubters and those experiencing a crisis of faith. In one ward, the Bishop is cool and in another they release you and take your temple recommend.

    15- I guess the number one thing is that I feel the Church isn’t being honest. The Church shouldn’t have a honesty exemption. I just read the Church’s essay on DNA and the BOM. My initial thought is that whoever wrote this is either dis-ingenuous or ignorant or perhaps both.

    Historically, Catholics did some pretty bad things and yet, there are Catholics everywhere. Practicing Catholics aren’t near as bothered by their historical issues, perhaps because the Catholic Church doesn’t go to extreme lengths to cover it up.

    Take seer stones. Is it any less weird to translate the BOM by looking in a hat than by looking into magical spectacles? No, they’re both pretty weird but people feel deceived when they learn how it was translated because the Church seems to be hiding it. If it had been taught for the last 100 years, nobody would get to upset about the seer stones because, after all, God works in mysterious ways.

    16- Too much sex abuse in the Church. I’m pissed that the Church is going to court to reduce reporting requirements.

    I could go on, but these are some of the more uncommon ones that bothered me. FYI, I’m still active in the Church for the time being, but I’m bothered by a lot of these things.

    • Ted
      February 1, 2014 at 2:05 am

      I’d like to concur with the first reason stated above. If this church is supposed to be directly led by Christ, through a PROPHET, where are the prophecies? The biggest thing we’ve gotten lately is a POLICY change about the age of departing missionaries, and to see the crowd when that announcement was made you would have thought that they announced the date of the Second Coming! It kind of made me sick inside how excited people got about it.

    • Mark
      February 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I think many of these issues are cultural problems as opposed to institutional ones, which are hard to control. But the first one was huge for me. The concept of continuing revelation is for M&A a huge draw for the Mormon church, but the reality is that it never happens. There are SO MANY issues in our world and in the church today that need to be addressed. Where is the living prophet? Is he a “prophet seer and revelator” or a CEO??

      • February 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

        Thanks, Mark!

    • February 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Thank you, Anonymous!

  11. Vic Ferrari
    February 1, 2014 at 1:30 am

    A big one for me was just doing the math on how many of the 6.5 billion people on the earth are active Mormons – I just couldn’t accept that God is cool with 99.75% of his children being “miserable” and living without a shot at “the happiness that is only found in the Gospel.” Combining that with my own experience of traveling the world and meeting so many wonderful, happy, fulfilled people in other faiths (or no faith at all) was what finally tipped me over.

  12. Michelle Smith
    February 1, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Ultimately, this religion does function as a cult. Independent thinking and questioning result in shaming and shunning. Complete conformity and unquestioning obedience to the GA is the only acceptable behavior; it is an all or nothing religion. An atmosphere of fear permeates every meeting: fear of questioning, fear of being honest, fear of being rejected. This religion practices the shunning of disobedient and former members just as suredly as the Amish religion does. And so people remain, out of fear. Those of us who leave lose everything.

    • February 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Thanks, Michelle.

  13. Ted
    February 1, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I left for many of the reasons already stated, but the final straw was aging out of YSA wards and moving from Boston with a strong singles’ scene to LA’s Inland Valley, where there isn’t much of a place for a single mid-30s guy. There is a general lack of belonging for the older single people, and the perception is that there is something wrong with us or some reason why we’re not married.

  14. john
    February 1, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Sorry if these have been covered in previous posts, but here goes:
    1. Lack of financial transparency.
    2. Inconsistent application of rules in different wards and stakes, and preferential treatment in church discipline (or lack thereof) if the person was from a specific family.
    3. Insular thinking that promotes that the rest of the world is evil/unhappy.
    4. Being in positions of leadership in over a dozen wards and ascertaining that most members are actually hanging on to belief, sanity, and actual happiness, by their fingertips.
    5. In my 40-plus years of membership, I have never seen a full family baptised.. Ever. If the church was so appealing, families would be joining in droves.
    6. Listening to a radio show about the weird things Scientologists believe, and thinking “hey, our beliefs and practices are pretty weird, as well.” This is what started my disaffection when I was a gospel doctrine teacher.
    7. Seeing two presidents of the church speak 20 feet away from me (I don’t live in the USA, so it was a big deal) and thinking “these guys are not in the least bit dynamic, prophetic, or believable. Their respective wife’s body language suggested that they were unhappy and this was the last place they wanted to be.
    8. Reading a court transcript when a president of the church was being questioned, and seeing how many businesses the church owns, and the penny dropped that the church is a business masquerading as a church.
    9.Being victim of MultiLevel Marketing scams and seeing so many similarities in prospecting, fleecing, and overall culture between the church and these MLM businesses.

    Hope this helps.

    • February 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Super helpful. Thanks, John!

  15. Michelle Smith
    February 1, 2014 at 2:32 am

    to·tal·i·tar·i·an (tō-tăl′ĭ-târ′ē-ən)
    Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed: “A totalitarian regime crushes all autonomous institutions in its drive to seize the human soul” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)

    • Karl Gee
      February 1, 2014 at 6:38 am


    • February 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm


  16. Michelle Smith
    February 1, 2014 at 3:29 am

    PS. As a side note, as a college student I studied the basics of reading hieroglyphics. When I saw the hierogyphics in the BoM, I was very confused, as they did not jibe with my college notes. At the time, I just chalked it up to my own inexperience and limited knowlege. Common sense dictated that a completely false interpretation in such a publicly accessible book could not logically be perpetuated, right? But now of course we all know that those hieroglyphics had absolutely nothing to do with the LDS scriptures or religion, and that the JS interpretation was a complete hoax.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks, Michelle!

  17. February 1, 2014 at 3:46 am

    There are so many reasons, everything on the pages referenced, for certain. The treatment I got for asking questions about those topics and more (why does the family proc insist on a gender binary, when it is a continuum) was extremely shaming. I had a member of the bishopric, in front of an entire class point his finger in my face and yell, ” WE WILL NOT DISCUSS THOSE THINGS IN HERE!!” Well, where CAN they be discussed? Secret online groups? In those places, I found out more and more that led me from the church.

    I was very compelled for two years to try to stay, but I was never accepted and I felt like I had no integrity if I stayed, so I left. I kept being called to positions of teaching during my disaffection, and I just could not lie to the class, or lie to myself, so I left. It hurt tremendously. I have shed many tears for what I thought the church was, make no mistake. I’d do most anything to have the church be what I thought it was.

    Mormons are also VERY NASTY by and large, if their doctrines and history are challenged.

    • Michelle Smith
      February 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      “Keep it secret; keep it safe.” How’s that workin out for ya, Church?

      • Sker
        February 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        There is always one other who knows the secrets…

        “SHIRE!! BAGGINS!!”

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Crystal!

  18. CK
    February 1, 2014 at 3:58 am

    1. Family in reality is incompatible with LDS multigenerational patriarchal ideal. Sealing is not available or not attractive or counter indicated. (Marriage not available for any number of reasons. Abandonment. Abuse. Incest. Murder.)

    2. Understanding of personhood, of human life, that comes to be seen as incompatible with the spirit (mind) — body dualism on which much of the doctrine relies. (Evolution where what makes a human is itself evolved not descended or inserted. Ego -superego – id / subconscious. Determinism.)

    3. Worthiness testing. (When one fails the test, or even considers the possibility of failing, a common reaction is “I failed”. But in pure logic there is an equally valid response that “the test failed, is incorrect, is invalid”. If the latter view takes hold or is seriously considered, the authority, status, “truthiness” of the Church can unravel.)

  19. Chris D
    February 1, 2014 at 5:02 am

    It became clear to me through my own experience and observing others that divine guidance/inspiration/revelation simply does not work (for me and everyone else in the Church).

    This is subtly but, I think, importantly different from things like..
    – “I lost confidence in my local church leadership”
    – “I re-evaluted what it means to believe/know”

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks, Chris!

  20. Katie
    February 1, 2014 at 5:06 am

    John, what a great project. I continue to believe that you are doing high-impact work. It may be too late for people like me, but I give you so much credit.

    For me, a big part of my story was male privilege, and how it has shaped my experience in the church. Male/priesthood privilege led my husband to feel like he was entitled to neglect his duties as a father. The Proclamation on the Family was his evidence that he was entitled to do this: “Men provide/preside, women nurture,” therefore you do all the nurturing, and I’ll do all the providing (despite the fact that I really wanted to return to work). This was also modeled in his family of origin, leading to one stressed out Mom, 8 kids, and a Dad who got to stay out of the fray and do whatever he wanted because he was the father/priesthood holder. I was raised in an non-LDS household in which my mom was also primarily the homemaker and my Dad the breadwinner, but the dynamic was dramatically different and there was a lot more crossover/fluidity between gender roles. My Dad was definitely a nurturer, and my Mom was very active as a PTA volunteer, and later started her own business with my dad’s enthusistic cheerleading.

    In my own marriage, when I objected to the provide/preside paradigm, my temple covenants were thrown in my face as further evidence that God wanted things this way, and I had better get with the program.

    When I went to my (male) priesthood leaders, even though I could tell they sympathized, the onus was put on me to make it work. I tried for years and got very depressed over it all. When I finally decided I had had enough and wanted out of the marriage, I got asked to meet with priesthood leaders over and over again at both the bishopric and stake level. To date, in a 13 month span I have have more than 10 meetings, the overwhelming bulk of which have been after I separated. My integrity was repeatedly questioned, as was my decision making. Furthermore, my pleas to the bishop for there to be some kind of ecclesiastical action because of the emotional abuse I had suffered fell on deaf ears. No church discipline for him. Plenty of shaming for me.

    At any rate, the upshot of this is, I wonder if the church’s heavy focus on authority issues helps create a culture in which emotional abusers flourish, and are rewarded with the badge of being “righteous” while doing so.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      So, so good. Thank you, Katie!

  21. Greg
    February 1, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Very active for decades. Mission, temple, tithing, service.

    Began research to bolster my own faith when someone close to me left. oops.
    Tried to hang on based on social values. This led to keeping score. oops.

    Reason #1 for leaving: I can’t, in good faith, support an organization that causes so much spiritual, social psychological and emotional pain through its repression of one’s individuality. Claiming to speak for God is a weighty responsibility. It’s pretty shameful when you lie about it.

    Paradox: I’ve met so many wonderful people on this hellish journey.

    Resolution of Paradox: I’ve met so many wonderful people on the outside, and I don’t have to put up with the crap.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks, Greg!

  22. Keli
    February 1, 2014 at 5:30 am

    I left the church unwillingly after being excommunicated for having an affair with another woman. My ex husband also had an affair, yet he went unpunished. After being out of the church, my point of view changed regarding gods use of covenants or “contracts” to get into heaven. A loving god wouldn’t require a special handshake for entry into his presence.

    The judgement among women in the church is stressful beyond words. If you don’t dress a certain way, or talk a certain way, or if you voice your opinion too much, you are so harshly judged by other women. Other religions allow you to come as you are, yet in a Mormon church if you showed up in pants and a T-shirt, there would be a backlash either from the women, or directly from the ward leadership.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks, Keli!

  23. Barbara
    February 1, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Do you want feedback from folks who have not left, but who have significantly reframed their perception if “true church”? Or, would you like them to hold out for the why people stay book? Thanks for your hard work in this area.

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:19 am

      I would love to hear how it,can be done, batbara

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Anyone. Thanks, Barbara!

  24. Andrea Alexander
    February 1, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Polyandry/Polygamy and loss of faith in Joseph Smith don’t quite get at my vivid turning point. Preying on young girls is far more reprehensible than adults swinging and mixing and being deceitful with one another in polyandrous games. I couldn’t go back after reading about Helen Mar Kimball. Add that to Fanny Alger who was also young.

    What wording can be used to describe preying on young innocent girls? Pedophilia doesn’t quite cover the problem, as that typically depicts sexual desires for prepubescent children. He was a predator. It’s far more evil than just being a sexual deviant who seeks out socially unacceptable relationships with adult women — although sickening itself.

    He was a predator — and there was NO TURNING BACK! DONE! DONE! DONE!

    • Andrea Alexander
      February 1, 2014 at 5:57 am

      I’m going to add that I now see the Church as a potentially wonderful community. No Church stands up to doctrinal purity. As a religious social community, the Church has validity in my mind. Now we need to reduce the homophobia and complete exclusion of women in decision making and authority, both at local and institutional levels.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks, Andrea!

  25. Jennifer
    February 1, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I left to protect my children from a culture that controls with shame and pressures conformity.

    It was the LDS involvement and deceit with Prop 8 that crossed the line and enabled me to stop with the mental gymnastics of trying to make all the shifting doctrine, falsified history, and leadership deceit make sense. However, I finally walked out the door, never to return, when I decided once and for all to protect my children from the culture that controls them with shame and pressures them into conformity.

    When we left, my children were 13 (girl) and 11 (boy). My daughter had opted out of YW after the first few months of beehives. The bishopric also knew that they did not have my permission to interview her. Still, she received so much pressure to begin fitting a mold that simply was not her. She is a genius girl with an extraordinary aptitude in math and science. At this point in her life, she simply has zero desire to be a mother and wife. Yet, week after week she would hear pressure about proper roles and proper behavior. The pressure was gentle, subtle, and seemingly innocuous. Still, it was disconcerting to her that her natural aptitudes and aspirations were never reinforced. One lesson stated point blank the fact that LDS doctrine teaches that one must be married to qualify for the highest levels of heaven. That unsettled her and seeing her struggle, where there simply was no honest, issue for a struggle, was moment that I knew that I needed to raise her outside of the church.

    My son was 11 and inching up on the make or break moment of 12 and the required “worthiness” interviews. Our family lives and dies with the rule of black and white honesty and yet to survive the LDS system, the youth must learn to lie in those “worthiness” interviews. I realized that it was time that he would also be better served outside of the church.

    So we talked over my concerns and we left and have never been back. To appease our friends and family, it would be easier to continue to show up every Sunday and maintain the façade. However, it would not have been the healthiest option for my children. They hear and feel that pressure even with my whispering in their ear to consider these teachings for themselves and throw out what doesn’t work.

    We are so happy outside of the church. We remain involved in good causes and healthy communities. Nobody started boozing it up and nobody started sleeping around. When someone asks why we no longer attend, I simply answer that the LDS church is not the healthiest place for our family right now.

    Oh, for an added bonus, and we moved. We moved very far away from anyone who knew us and to a very non-religious place with almost no LDS folks so that we would not feel pressure until we found our new footing. This was an absolute luxury and incredibly helpful with this transition. Odd though, that the pressure and shaming in this organization is so great that we literally had to move half-way around the planet to more easily start fresh.

    (John-Thank you for caring for those of us who left enough to research it and explain it to those who slap an unfitting label on us out of fear.)

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Great stuff. Thanks, Jennifer!

  26. Monica
    February 1, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I haven’t left, but what has brought me close to leaving and might push me over the edge at some point, especially if I am ever given an ultimatum, is the church’s emphasis on blind obedience to church authorities. The church admits that our leaders are fallible, yet demand that we view their proclamations as being the direct word of God. This creates a cult of personality that I want no part of.

    Related to this is when local authorities or general authorities excommunicate, discipline or take away temple recommends of those who publicly voice their disagreements (with the church’s stance on women or LGBT issues, for example) or with doctrinal issues or the way the church operates. The idea that one must remain silent even if what they are saying is true, is especially troublesome. The church really gives us mixed messages on this. For me, the spirit completely leaves when this kind of witch hunt atmosphere prevails and this has seriously damaged my testimony that the current leadership are prophets, seers and revelators.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks, Monica!

  27. Andrea Alexander
    February 1, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Super suffocating social mold. They will never fit in.

    Now that several commenters have brought it up, I think it’s the largest category of all. You have the category: “I became bothered by church culture (i.e. politics, etc.)” but did that capture this enormous group? They aren’t here online with the ExMos and NOMs, etc. I could interview all the people at church and half would tell me they don’t feel like they fit in. People feel they have to fake it.

    People are social creatures, not deep thinkers. People in this enormous category never get to doctrinal evaluation. This also accounts for the low convert retention rate. Of all the inactive people I’ve spoken to over the years, I’d say well over 50% would give this reason — they don’t fit in.

    My teen daughter left for this reason. She wears pants to church, has dyed hair, and wears tank tops to sporting events — she was chastised weekly at church. They ran her off.

    • February 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Andrea!

  28. malkie
    February 1, 2014 at 6:57 am

    I don’t know if you would consider this to be separate from any of the other reasons, but her it is FWIW:

    For a long time, as a local leader in the church, I first suspected and then knew that I was working completely without ‘inspiration’. At the same time, my own leaders were telling me what a good person and leader I was, how spiritual I was etc.

    I even had a reputation for giving ‘good’ blessings, but knew that I was completely struggling for anything to say that didn’t come from cold reading.

    All in all, I guess, I have to confess to being one of the phonies that other DAMU members have talked about (;=(

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks, malkie!

  29. Erika
    February 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

    It started when I was in the LTM (language training mission) and realized I had never prayed about whether Joseph Smith was a prophet. Because my mission was very hard (Europe) I needed to have the spirit confirm to me the JS was a true prophet. Never got an answer to that but did like the law of eternal progression and pursuit of excellence. I brought my husband to the church after my mission and he fasted and prayed to get the affirmation promised by Moroni in the BofM. After 30 years of really trying to get a confirmation he just couldn’t go on anymore. Especially after finding out Paul H. Dunn had fabricated some of his spiritual experiences because he really relied his testimony on his for a long time. He realized if Dunn could fabricate his stories that without a confirmation from God about JS, they could be fabricated too. For me it was learning how JS and church leaders took other men’s wives and cheated behind their wives backs. My husband and I had also prayed and fasted often to get a testimony of the temple and every temple experience was a negative for us.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks, Erika!

  30. JR
    February 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for doing this John.

    I would say what really got me is the access to original documents online. I was always “aware” of “anti” information about JS, the first vision, and such. However having direct access to these changes to the original manuscript (not grammatical changes, but doctrinal changes) of the BOM and D&C, putting them along the timeline of the changes in the first vision… JS’s view of the godhead changed, so did the telling of the first vision, and he changed scripture that was previously published to reflect his changing views.

    Being able to read the documents myself on church affiliated sites. That really took the air out of my sails.

    I served a mission in Haiti and return once a year as a volunteer at my own expense. I see the suffering happening i the western hemisphere’s poorest country. That makes it very difficult to see the church unload $1.5 B for a shopping mall or $500 M for a land purchase in Florida. What could those funds have done if instead they were sent to Haiti with an army of missionaries to improve the country?

    The church needs to open their books to their members. The only reason to have closed books is you have something to hide. The LDS church needs to spend money in a way that they are proud to have others see how the money was spent.

  31. Rex Parks
    February 1, 2014 at 7:13 am

    I haven’t read the comments above, and I apologize if I’m repeating someone else’s comment, but one thing that’s not listed is what I would call ‘philosophical issues.’ I began to doubt/problematize many of the basic concepts on which LDS doctrine relies. This includes especially concepts like truth and agency, though I had quite a list of these. My doubt about these philosophical issues was a heavy contributor to my conclusion that I could never believe in the church’s teachings.

  32. Karl Gee
    February 1, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I wouldn’t say I left the Church. But I barely attended at all last year, and just started going again this month to see if I can make it work in my own way. Also, I do not believe as I once I think my answers are relevant to your study. Your study covered all of my major issues, but I will just recommend a couple more:

    1. The Church is not as eclectic or cosmopolitan as it ought to be:

    I do not see any real effort to learn from the wisdom of other religious and philosophical traditions, and when I do so and mention it to others, it is viewed with suspicion.

    2. The Church doesn’t teach its own history:

    People grow up in the Church thinking they know their history, but in reality, history is not taught. Devotional bits of our past as viewed through dense rose colored glasses are taught, but not history in any professional capacity; And not all of the relevant history concerning things that our faith is heavily invested in. A sincere search for truth, and an honest approach to our history means including all of the relevant facts).. Either we should be given all of the known facts relevant to the Church’s foundational claims, OR, we should not be asked to invest our faith so heavily in those “historical” claims.

    3. The Church does NOT use a scholarly approach to the Bible in sunday school, seminary, institute, etc.:

    For a Church that believes the Bible to be the word of God only “as far as it is translated correctly,” we aren’t very analytical in our approach to it. Why had I never heard of the documentary hypothesis until years after completing seminary, an LDS mission, and reading through the institute manuals on my own? Why hadn’t I learned about the questionable authorship of the Gospels, or the pseudopigryphal letters attributed to Paul?

    4. The Church has absolutely NO support group for people with difficult questions.

    It took me years to find Dialogue, and even longer to find Mormon Stories, etc. Now there is a thriving online community of people like us, which is great. Now I feel I might be able to get involved again, in my own way, because I’m not alone. Now I feel I am part of a movement that is trying to change things for the better. But for a while I just had to get out of that environment that wasn’t teaching me anything new and wasn’t nurturing my soul. I found nourishment on my own. I found a deeper relationship with God. I found myself, in a way that was much needed. I found a better, more honest relationship with my wife. I ultimately found many good people like myself through podcasts, and the blogosphere and FB groups. It was a very positive experience in the end. But I still think something ought to be done by the Church itself to address this. One simple step, imagine if linked unofficial sites as helpful resources to people in need of uncorrelated support. That would be amazing! Thanks for all you do, John.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Super helpful. Thank you, Karl!!!

  33. Andrea Alexander
    February 1, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Here’s my facebook comment. Based on your introduction,

    I would broaden the definition of your set aside category for later study –” those who were never fully integrated”.

    Word it to capture the mother load category of those who don’t fit into our super suffocating social mold.

    Most leave for social reasons and never get to doctrinal evaluation. Your wording makes it sound too narrow — converts who didn’t quite make it.

    We socially exclude: minorities, singles, divorced, free spirits, childless, feminists, people who swear, dyed hair, piercings, bikini-wearing, career women, Democrats, authority-questioning, independent thinkers, LGBT and their families, the list is endless……..

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks, Andrea!

  34. Bruce Spackman
    February 1, 2014 at 8:03 am

    The church doesn’t accept doubt/disbelief as being legitimate. And it values hanging on to the believing spouse at all costs over encouraging a loving marriage and family relationship.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Hey Bruce! 🙂 Thanks!!!

  35. Russ
    February 1, 2014 at 8:03 am

    My turning point was discovering that the Book of Abraham is not a translation (or a “translation”). I’d had serious problems before but that was huge.

    For a lot of people I think there’s a cumulative effect. There are so many problems. One particular problem can be overlooked, but when there are so many, many others, it becomes a lot harder.

    Despite all the problems I wanted to stay in and participate. But I couldn’t, and here are the reasons why:

    1. lack of financial transparency

    2. extreme right-wing political rhetoric which directly contradicts much of what is ostensibly taught in the book of mormon and other places

    3. denigration and abuse (physical, spiritual, emotional, etc.) of women

    I’ve often thought that if the church honestly followed its own scriptures it would be pretty great to be a member. As it is, I can’t force myself to attend when I “know” it isn’t “true”.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks, Russ!

  36. Liz
    February 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

    What finally made me resign were accusations of the church covering for rapists and child molestors. There are allegations of witnesses being threatened and church leaders making excuses to protect the church’s image instead of the victims.

  37. Brian B.
    February 1, 2014 at 8:11 am

    General factors:

    1. I was being overworked in relatively minor callings, spending 10-20 hours weekly in meetings, phone calls, and house visits. Historical issues made me leave, but ditching the burden of my calling made me relieved to be gone.

    2. The church is extremely confined to the western U.S. over the last 170 years. A study of world history and cultures made the idea of Mormonism being the “one true faith” seem absurd.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks, Brian!

  38. Jennifer Carter
    February 1, 2014 at 8:39 am

    One of my major issues are the contradictions in scripture. The Book of Mormon contradicts theology in the Doctrine of Covenants. The Book of Mormon contradicts theology in the Bible. Also the lack of any evidence of the Book of Mormon and the church’s stance that it’s a book of faith and not history. If the history is a lie, then so is the faith it’s founded on. Another issue is that the church tries to gloss over the inconsistencies. They will address the issues, but they skirt them, not giving the full truth and trying to downplay those issues.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks, Jennifer!

  39. Richie Carter
    February 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

    This is the only true church. My family on my mother’s side and my father’s side are LDS for many generations. I was taught this as all of my family has been. Yet, the Bible is God’s word, and historical accuracy can test it and prove it. Even if that wasn’t a fact, the places, peoples, and even money really existed, or still exists. For the only “true” church to have another testament of Jesus Christ, should it be equally testable, and full of truth, and flow just as well as the New Testament does with The Old Testament? The fact that it is emphasized as such a “true” church, why is there zero evidence, and lies in every direction?

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Thanks, Richie!

  40. Dave Clark
    February 1, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The list in the survey is comprehensive and addresses all of what I think of as “tangible” concerns. While these issues contributed to a critical examination of my faith, the most important factor in the end was the realization that emotion is not a reliable determinant of truth. This, coupled with an eye-opening exposure to a description of the psychology of religion, created a resentment of the demand for certitude in the Church. Once my “testimony” crumbled any desire to remain actively affiliated with the Church quickly evaporated. It has been interesting to me to see how comfortable I feel in this position and how little desire I have to re-engage with what I once thought was the only “true and living church on the face of the whole earth.”

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Hey Dave! Thanks!!!!

  41. Larry Greenwood
    February 1, 2014 at 9:13 am

    My rebellious nature! I never wanted to be told anything. Show me, teach me, just respect me and my ability to learn. I never understood how people can just submit, comply, and obey.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks, Larry!!!

  42. Kelly
    February 1, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I left over the way the church treats:
    *the disabled
    *anyone not “stereotypical” Mormon
    And their lack of repentance over the way they treated the blacks.
    We are an adoptive family of 10 kids. 7 of our children are minority, 10 have special needs, 6 are female, and 1 is questioning their sexuality. All are very creative and out of the box thinkers. My husband and I came to the conclusion that after a life time of activity and having lots of leadership callings, that the LDS Church was not a healthy environment for our children and we did not want to raise them to be biggots or to feel less about themselves.

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks, Kelly!!!

  43. Carol
    February 1, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I could have still accepted the church and all the seemingly difficult issues because I had received a “testimony.” It was only after I realized that people from all religious backgrounds receive similar spiritual confirmations, that I was able to admit that my testimony wasn’t unique, nor could it be taken as proof that the LDS church was right and all others were wrong. Once I understood and accepted this, I was then able to look more objectively at the issues the church faces and recognize that there were legitimate problems.

    The biggest issues to me at that point were the BoA and the unsavory history of the church (Danites, Mountain Meadows Massacre, polyandry). Then everything else I learned just kept piling on the growing mound of evidence.

    Learning about the attributes of a cult and how the LDS church fits the profile was disturbing to me. I always felt that I was too smart to be taken in by a cult, and so it was a blow to discover that I had been. But, I would rather swallow my pride and admit I was wrong, than continue to live a lie.

    • February 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks, Carol!

  44. Ivan
    February 1, 2014 at 9:48 am

    For me it was two things.

    1. I never really got a witness. I tried to convince myself I did, but I never really believed it.

    2. I gradually realized that the scientific explanations for things make much more sense (to me) than the church’s explanations. At some point I finally allowed myself to accept that it might not be true, and that was the beginning of the end.

    • February 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks, Ivan!

  45. Daniel
    February 1, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I am the oldest of 8 kids. Of 8 kids only 2 of us (me included) consider our selves LDS.

    The reasons my siblings have the left the church, and reasons that make it hard to stay a member are as follows:

    -Growing up local ward and stake leaders would corner us at mutual, camp outa or even at church to try and convince us our parents are wrong for being Democrats.

    -Ward members wouldn’t let their kids play with us because we were democrats

    -Ward members would lie to us in aaronic priesthood and say that if you didn’t become an Eagle Scout you weren’t allowed to go on a mission.

    -My siblings and I saw the proclamation for the family as a tool the LDS church could use to get involved in politics….Sadly they proved us right…

    -The LDS church involvement in local politics in Utah.

    -The local stake presidents in Utah county would all put republican signs in their front yards, and would add things about how great republican leaders are during their talks in wards and stake conferences.

    -When I became an elder members of my ward raised their hand in opposition to me advancing in the priesthood because I am a democrat.

    -I had a stake president tell me that I couldn’t renew my temple recommend because I am a democrat and that is associating with anti-LDS people.

    -I had a bishop tell me that teachers were the reason society is failing. And that all public school teachers teach about homosexuality is good in the classroom. That includede me.

    Ya, I could keep going.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks, Daniel!

  46. Jordan
    February 1, 2014 at 10:05 am

    My story is relatively common in that all of those issues listed had a large part in breaking down my faith. My belief in the Church as being true, however, took the hardest hits from the Church’s own statements on recent subjects. So much so that simply reading their own words serves to indite them more than any other external factor could.

    For instance, the recent addition to Official Declaration #2 states that “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of [withholding the priesthood from blacks.]” This statement found within the scriptures points to evidence that there are instances of the Church being led by policy, moreover opinion, that is not revelation. Once this is considered, it’s easy to see a how much the Church is not based on revelation but by men’s ideas. Therefore, it is not the “one true church” but merely a church like any other.

    It’s mishandling these important topics that shook me the most.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks, Jordan!

  47. Martha Arndt
    February 1, 2014 at 10:14 am

    1. Some people seem to be sensitive to spiritual things. I am apparently not one of those people. The pressure to have that grand testimony was always pressing. In my youth I was usually just annoyed whenever a contrived situation was created to make me feel the spirit. Then I spent DECADES praying for that confirmation, or any kind of acknowledgement that God knew and/or cared about me, or that I could have any feeling whatsoever outside of my own emotional state. It never came. It made me feel like someone not worthy of the sisterhood in the church because I was not an emotional true believer.
    2. Being a woman in a typically male field (engineering), I have opportunities to lead and to be led, make suggestions and to be the decision maker. Yet in church, even as the Primary President, all decisions were ultimately made by men. I was only the facilitator, not a leader or decision maker.
    3. I cannot reconcile the way the church treats those outside the mold with the teaching of Christ.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks, Martha!

  48. Lauren Hill
    February 1, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I think my biggest issue with the church after all said and done, and all of the healing from the lies has ended, Is the correlation between tithing and temple worthiness.
    In my search for truth I have studied many religions. I have found all organized religions are complete hogwash. And yet in this search I have experience God. I refuse to believe that a true loving God would put conditions on that love.
    In order to reach the celestial kingdom you must be sealed in the temple. And in order to attend the temple you have pay tithing. Even if you are completely worthy to be in God’s presence. The question is, are you full tithe payer? If the answer is no, then you don’t go to the temple. Period. If you don’t go to the temple, then you don’t get to experience the full blessings of God ie; celestial kingdom and all of its godly privileges, servants, etc.
    I was a fitth generation Mormon and I can tell you from experience that Mormons are the kindest most selfless people I’ve ever met. They give of their time and talents without any wish for reimbursement. That is what being charitable is. Yet those who struggle to keep the lights on are turned away from God’s blessings. God’s love is unconditional.
    Joseph Smith was a maniacal genius. What better way to bilk people out of their money than telling them that they will not being God’s presence if they do not give him 10%. Genius!

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks, Lauren!

  49. February 1, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I’m adding my voice to those of others in saying, I did not leave for historical reasons. After I left, I revisited historical issues with a more critical eye and they were the icing on the cake, but overall I left because the lived experience was unsatisfying for me. It seemed wrong that the fruits of my faithfulness included self-loathing, loneliness, and misery.

    Initially, I stopped going to church because I felt emotionally unwell. I was a 28 years-old single female who rarely dated (even though priesthood leaders always told me how awesome I was). I felt angry, betrayed, wasted, powerless, hopeless. I felt that the more I “followed the commandments,” the more self-righteous and the less tolerant and compassionate I became, and I did not like that either. Ultimately, I left because the church told me in words that I was special, but in actions told me I was disposable. I believed I deserved more out of life (including meaning, purpose, and satisfying companionship).


    • February 3, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Sarah!!!!

  50. NIelper
    February 1, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I still go to church every Sunday even though I no longer believe it’s doctrine. I haven’t come out to the ward members as a disbeliever but I’m pretty sure they’ve figured it out from some of my face book posts.

    I just feel like going to church is a big waste of time. It’s boring, uninspiring and energy killing. I feel more uplifted by watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show than by going to church. I don’t go to Sunday School or Relief Society because I cannot be honest about historical facts and I can’t express my opinions for fear of harming other people’s faith. Fortunately I have a calling to play piano in the primary so I have a good excuse to stay away from SS and RS.

    Every Sunday, I take my Kindle and read something else during church. Otherwise I would go bonkers. So many of the talks from General Authorities are all about how to build up the church and very little time is spent on how to build ourselves as individuals, how to improve our marriages or how to be better parents. The assumption is that building up the church by being better Mormons will magically solve problems in all other areas of our lives. There was a time I bought into this idea, but I don’t believe it anymore. I’m getting tired of giving to the church and getting nothing in return.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, NIelper!

  51. David
    February 1, 2014 at 11:11 am

    This was an absolutely masterful study that helped shut down misconceptions Mormons have about why we leave the church. It was a breath of fresh air to finally see a serious study done on this important subject that anyone can understand.

    Here is the only thing I think is flawed with your study. It’s with the way you worded the issues of the church’s unrealistic expectations of its members and people being “offended”. Church leaders don’t think that they have unrealistic expectations, so they say people leave because “they want to sin”. Church leaders speak against leaving the church “because you were offended”, because they just know that the church is right and anyone who leaves is wrong.

    I think both are perfectly legitimate reasons for leaving, but the way they are represented in your study is with the same loaded statements like “I was offended by someone at church” and “I wanted to engage in behaviors viewed as sinful by the church.” It gave me the impression that you worded them so that they would almost certainly have the lowest scores.

    A better way to represent the issue of “sinful” behavior is by saying “I did not agree with the church’s standards for behavior” or maybe “I felt that the church has unrealistic expectations of its members.”

    I’m not too sure how you could reword “I was offended by someone in the church.” My experience with local leaders and members has been overwhelmingly positive, so I don’t really know how to get to the bottom of that one.

    In conclusion, don’t use the same loaded, narrow-minded, biased statements (like “desire to sin” and “offended by someone at church”) that church leaders use to explain why we resign. I’ve typed a whole lot about only a small part of your study. I can’t imagine how many pages I could write about why the rest of your study was great, and how much I appreciate it. Thank you!

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks, David!

  52. square peg
    February 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I expect them to be honest in their dealings the way they ask and expect us to in order to be “worthy” of going to the temple. I do not like double standards! Their “attempts” to answer to the problems and inconsistencies in their history and doctrine is side-skirting the issues and I’ve never seen any of it to be 100% truth. I know they can’t because if they were, the church would fall apart. But they are willing to hurt a lot of marriages and families by dividing spouses and children because some of us just decide we can’t stomach it anymore! I do not appreciate them touting how they are all about family, while they allow differing beliefs to cause division within homes.

    Also, trying to maintain my own personal integrity, I wasn’t able to obtain that precious piece of paper needed to allow me to attend my own son’s wedding! I realized that I owe nothing to an organization that is willing to penalize me from one of the greatest events of my child’s life-because I was honest, when they haven’t been honest with me!

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks, Square Peg!

  53. February 1, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I have read over just about all the comments, and I’m surprised that my perspective has not really been addressed as of yet. Of course, I have read and have worried about the church history, the Book of Mormon, and so many of the other views expressed.

    Ultimately, the tipping point for me has been looking back at how the church teaches about pornography and sexuality. Even before my mission, I suffered from depression from time to time. I thought something was wrong with me because I did not feel happy all the time, even when I was living the church commandments. I feel like the main reason for me feeling sad and unworthy is because the church taught me that if I wasn’t happy or didn’t feel worthy, it was my own fault. Naturally, I had to find reasons for why I was a bad person, and why I didn’t feel the spirit tell me that all of the stuff was true. It came down to 1) I had looked at pornography occasionally, 2) I masturbated occasionally, and 3) I had some “unworthy” encounters with a significant other.

    As the years went on, I realized that the church was the one telling me that I was damaged or sinful, and yet my family and my church leaders would not acknowledge that this was the case.

    I do not want to subject my own children to this same type of manipulative, unhealthy teaching. My six-year-old daughter has already been saying things like “I am bad. Mom and dad don’t like me.”

    The same thing happens when you finally choose to leave. The church gets out of the bind by telling you and others that you are broken, that there is something wrong with you, and that’s why you couldn’t stay faithful. I am not interested in participating in that kind of a narrative that hurts people.

    • Michelle Smith
      February 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      If you are not made of cold, hard stone, you are out. Even when we were active–especially when we were active–I instructed my daughter to listen to MY lessons about sexuality, not the churches. I bought her plenty of books, invited her to talk, and encouraged her to remain a virgin at LEAST thru high school for emotional reasons, not physical reasons ( every parent’s hope, I think!). Yet, I also took her to the drug store and showed her how to buy condoms. We bought some, went home, and I showed her how to use them. She was dying of embarrassment, but still, I could tell she was interested. I am sooo glad for this. I feel trusting of my child, and I know that she does whatever she does thoughtfully and wisely.

      In general, I advised her that she does not HAVE to believe anything that doesnt click as right and true for HER. And so she left the church on her own, and she was entirely right to do so, for herself. It was causing her harm, and that is when you pull the plug.

      • February 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

        Very cool, Michelle!

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Super important. Thanks, Michael!

  54. Matt
    February 1, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I think your study nailed it, John. I keep hearing you tell my story over and over. I watched “The Lost Book of Abraham” on YouTube and felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. Then I found out about how polygamy was really practiced and I had no faith in JS anymore. I clung to faith in Christ for another 2 years but I kept finding out more problems with the church and the shelf came crashing down.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Thanks, Matt!

      • Matt
        February 4, 2014 at 12:28 am

        I ought to add in, John, since I don’t think it’s covered in your study, a basic understanding of human psychology was the catalyst for pushing me forward so that I had to speak up. I suffered in silence for a long time. I innocently started reading David McRaney’s stuff and I saw all the logical fallacies and psychological traps that the church exploits (whether intentional or not). Once I broke those down, there was nothing to support my shelf anymore.

  55. Trudy Stubbs
    February 1, 2014 at 11:41 am

    After being in for 22 yrs. I began to realize Jesus was at the bottom of the list & tithing , pioneers, temples, etc. were at the top. Then my member, but never believing hubby, brought home “Beyond Mormonism”& after reading about God coming down to have sex with Mary & other very distasteful doctrines, I was done. maybe I just needed an excuse because I could hardly stand sacrament meetings one more week. Life is waaay better now, in a Christian church.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks, Trudy!

  56. Jhh
    February 1, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Increasing use of emotional manipulation. Treks, 4 hour testimony meetings. Because crying = spirit = truth

    • Shelly Snapp
      February 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      TOTALLY agree with this one!! Crying = spirit = truth. I wonder if this problem is only bad in Utah. So many of my out of state friends say the church is so different out side of Utah.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks, Jhh.

  57. Kym Carter
    February 1, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I think your study nailed it. I had questioned the Mormon church my whole life though growing up as a teen I really began to question the leaders in the Mormon church. I was asked weird personal questions that my parents didn’t even ask me as well as when asked why I didn’t get the “burning in the bosom” then I was told I needed to repent, clean up my life and “fake it until you make it” to the warm fuzzies. When I started to research as an adult, I was dumfounded, angry, and appalled. Not only could I not be a Mormon I could no longer support any one in Mormonism either. I love my Mormon loved ones though I cannot help support their beliefs any longer. Christ and Christ alone is the saving grace!

  58. sidelined
    February 1, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    We know some people are forced out either formally or informally because they are judged as not being orthodox or obedient or believing enough. They face courts of “love” where they are shamed and disfellowshipped or excommunicated because they don’t pay the right amount of tithing or express the appropriate amount of belief.

    Many are lifelong members who want to be involved on their own terms, but are kicked to the curb when they are deemed by local leadership to be a liability.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks, sidelined.

  59. Natalie Lambert
    February 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I believe it is a pretty thorough list that reflects the truth of why we leave. One of my biggest reasons for becoming a non believer was revelation. My father was a BYU professor and due to many contributing factors felt he had received certain revelations that my mother was going to die and he was to marry this student who was a relief society president in the student stake where he was a counselor in the stake presidency. He ended up having a long standing affair with this woman until my sister blew the whistle. He was excommunicated and fired and our family especially my very alive mother was left in total ruin. The stake president completely neglected my mother. No one ever asked about us children. It just so happened that this stake president had just called my father as the bishop in the ward and so I’m sure was very embarrassed. So to save face he was very harsh and tried to sweep it under the carpet as fast as possible. There is so much more to this story I’m willing to tell if you think it is pertinent.

    All of these factors led me to doubt revelation, the priesthood, and the authority of this church. Then I started reading about church history and my father’s story very heavily resembled Joseph Smith’s. If you want it just make it a revelation from God and people will fall in line. Every other thing on your list fell into place after that.

    I wasn’t offended, I didn’t want to sin. I wanted the truth and the freedom to follow Jesus without a group of men having to ask God if it’s the right way.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Wow. Would love to hear this story someday, Natalie!

  60. Eric
    February 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Maybe this is minor, but two of your General Factors are “lost faith in God” and “lost faith in Jesus Christ”. I would put myself in those categories, but only because I don’t see a better category. To me, the way you’ve worded those seems to say that someone can still believe in God, but has lost faith in that entity because of the suffering they see in the world, for example. It’s almost more like a “jack mormon” point of view.

    For me, I just stopped believing in God (at least any god preached in any religion, atheism is a tricky thing to define), consequently Jesus Christ and anything religious. A better description would be “lost belief in God”, “lost belief in Jesus Christ”. Of course, this probably fits best under the factors “I re-evaluted what it means to believe/know” and, consequently, “I ceased to believe in the church’s doctrine/theology”, both of which I also selected in the original survey.

    Maybe you intended the God and Jesus answers to be read the way I’m criticizing them for. And, if so, then I would add a “lost belief in God” option.

    • February 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks, Eric!

  61. Scott B.
    February 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Perhaps this falls under the heading of “Problems with Church Theology/Doctrine” but my struggles with the church really started with its emphasis on Free Agency and the idea that this life is a test to prove one’s worthiness.

    As a teenager/missionary/young adult, I struggled to understand how agency actually functioned. The more I learned about about science, the more I came to believe that every decision a person makes is the result of genetics, brain structure, past experiences, upbringing, environmental stimuli, hormones, or a myriad of other external tangible factors.

    I soon realized that free agency as an ability that is separate from one’s body and experiences does not exist. It seemed cruel and illogical that God would create people, put them in a variety of scenarios, and then punish them for acting in accordance with the bodies and lives he gave them. It seemed a bit to me like forcing all of humanity to run a race, then declare that the losers did not choose to run fast enough (despite their short legs), and damn them for eternity.

    Realizing that the Plan of Salvation was based on a faulty logic led me to question other aspects of it that other people have mentioned in the other comments. After I decided that the Plan of Salvation was a man-made creation, all the historical issues explained themselves.

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Beautiful. Thanks, Scott!

  62. Lizzy
    February 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Even though many of the issues stated were important to me for why I remained out of the Church®, the biggest thing is that I just could not identify with it- it wasn’t for me.

    I couldn’t wrap my head around the possibility of “one true church” when there was an entire world of religions out there who claimed the same thing.

    • Michelle Smith
      February 1, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Yup. I am going to check out Unitarian Universalists, who from what I understand study and take the good from all religions.

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:42 am

      Thanks, Lizzy!

  63. Janet Radford
    February 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    As a convert who eventually left, I found that the undercurrent of exclusivity felt quite simply, un-Christian. The “rules of Mormonism” began to feel duplicitous – always delivered with a smile and a heaping dose of earnestness. For me, this was not unlike the evangelical south where I spent my formative years.

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Thanks, Janet!

  64. Heather Garcia
    February 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    1 John 4:1 was the last straw for me.

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:46 am

      Thanks, Heather!

  65. Jen
    February 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    1. I didn’t see one of my biggest reasons, which was not wanting to raise my kiddos with all the guilt and judgment. We stayed for a while “for the kids,” and after being in primary for a year or so and hearing my husband talk about how destructive the masturbation interviews were to his sense of self and sexual development, I quickly decided that outside of the church was actually safer.

    2. Garments and the temple. But mostly garments. I didn’t go to the temple for the final five or more years of activity, but having to wear dingy gross underwear every day weighed heavily on my mind/heart. I’m not overweight and I tried every single fabric, but since I stopped wearing garments I have no discomfort, clothes fit better, and I’m not worried about keeping this strange underwear secret. That was proof that the garments are not at all inspired by a loving God.

    3. Maybe this is “Church stance on women” but it’s also about politics, which I don’t see listed. As a professional who went through years of sacrifice and hard work to earn my degree and get a great job (all this while paying tithing and raising kids), I was hurt to learn of the church’s support of anti-ERA not too many years ago. I read about it in the mainstream media during the Mitt Romney campaign.

    • Cherie
      February 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Amen to the garment issue. I hated them, I cried for a year off and on when I first started, until I found out they could be special ordered, which helped a little bit. But, it didn’t address the largest issue for me – elastic.
      The other issue ties in with comments on church culture and girls being taught lifelong, that their role is as a wife and mother. As someone who suffers from infertility that is unbelievably painful. It causes you to question your worth, and the point of your existence. I always want to tell young girls that that should not be their only goal/vision of their future.
      I was very devout until it became to painful. Until I was so depressed that I just didn’t care anymore. And then, I had that wonderful freeing thought, “What if it isn’t true?”

      • February 4, 2014 at 5:55 am

        Thanks, Cherie!

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:51 am

      Thanks, Jen!

  66. Janelle
    February 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Your study is pretty thorough, you hit the major reasons. My reason for leaving and my reason for staying out might be a little different from each other – I found many more reasons to remain exmormon after I first made the decision. Ultimately though, I guess it all can be summed up under the number one reason listed – “I ceased to believe in the church’s doctrine/theology”. That’s a very broad sweeping statement though and I didn’t see much that pointed to the particular reason *why* I ceased believing in the church’s doctrine/theology.

    Originally my reason for leaving was due to the toxic level of shame and guilt just for being normal and human. I was a young college student who had had it drilled into me, through countless youth conferences, girls camp testimony meetings, seminary lessons, EFY speeches, education week conferences at BYU, etc etc, the absolute fundamental importance of sexual purity. I completely believed what I was taught, that sexual sin is so serious that it is only second to murder. If you committed *any* sexual sin, you were almost as sinful and awful as a murderer.

    I got a boyfriend, and in hindsight I did an admirable job of keeping within the lines with him for a long time, but after almost a year of dating, things had gotten a little more touchy feely than is permitted. My understanding was that all sexual sin, even just getting a little hands-y, is all sexual sin and is all an abomination, and I had lost the right to the spirit in my life, and had failed God, and was unworthy to feel the spirit or take the sacrament or be guided or protected or supported by God in my life. I felt unworthy of the air I was breathing.

    Long story short but I eventually realized that this mentality was toxic, shaming, but most importantly wrong. I realized that I was not a bad person for doing a very normal, developmentally appropriate thing within a loving committed relationship, and I realized that the crushing depression and self loathing was entirely a product of religious indoctrination, not the spirit leaving. But I realized this through my own common sense and trusting my own feelings, not by researching or learning external facts. I realized that it felt wrong for a reason and that I should trust my feelings and instincts more than a church that wanted to teach me to hate myself.

    Because this had been drilled into me as such a huge tenet and such a fundamental, central principle of mormon belief, the realization that it was wrong basically took the whole house of cards down. If the mormon church got something this huge wrong, then what else did they get wrong and could I trust them on anything?

    This was that “make or break” moment that I think every exmormon reaches, where they stop trying to rationalize away the inconsistencies and problems and uneasiness they feel with their mormon beliefs, and for the first time actually consider the possibility that the mormon church could simply be false or fraudulent. And when I did, I realized that everything came clear and made perfect sense and became consistent again, when viewing the world through a lens of “mormonism is simply a lie”. And that’s when I lost my faith.

    My reasons for staying out of the church may be a little different by now. Since leaving, I’ve encountered a mountain of evidence against the church, to the point where I view the Mormon church as a fraud that can easily be disproven. But those factual reasons and historical problems were still unknown to me when I first left.

    I do need to emphasize though, given that so-called minor “sexual sin” was such a big part of my leaving story – this is not a story of leaving to sin. I didn’t rationalize my guilt so that I could have sex. Instead, it was a matter of belief – I came to believe that what the church had taught me about shame and guilt and unworthiness was false and damaging, and that a true church lead by God would not have made such a huge error.

    • February 4, 2014 at 5:59 am

      Super valuable. Thanks, Janelle!

  67. EM
    February 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    My history: Active AND devout until age 19, Inactive at age 20, questioning at age 22, removed name at age 25. Well-read in gospel doctrine. Not only had I read the standard works multiple times and kicked butt at scripture chase in seminary, I’d read a lot of the auxiliary works, including various lesson manuals when my parents were called to teach Sunday School. If anything, I studied my way right on out of the church, and my largest factors are doctrinal consistency issues and disbelief. Once those two began to combine and I delved deeper into the historical provenance of the church beyond the basics we were taught, everything just kept snowballing for me.

    After looking at the list of factors, I’d say there’s a cumulative effect of ALL OF THE ABOVE. For example, I might have enjoyed aspects* of Utah LDS culture, but because of how they treated dissenters, there’s no chance for me to culturally associate with them.

    My cousin and I used to lament that we couldn’t be considered culturally Mormon while not being LDS members, the way non-orthodox or non-practicing Jews are still considered racially and culturally Jewish. It was painful to leave our culture behind, but the given attitudes of the time didn’t facilitate that sort of thing.

    And I couldn’t associate with the church solely for the sake of the culture I might miss, because they still propagated a lot of beliefs that were dangerous either to me or to friends of mine. So the doctrinal beliefs that were sexist, racist, and homophobic were big factors in me choosing to get the paperwork done to officially have my name removed from church roles.

    The thing is, the reasons kept piling up. Reasons of conscience–I could not support an institution that treated gay folks as second class and actively worked to push public policy that supported that. (This was just before Prop 8 but it would have been a final straw.) Reasons of logic and disbelief. Reasons involving consistency. Reasons involving how the Priesthood/patriarchy enables behaviour dangerous to women. And the fact that I couldn’t call out the things that were damaging me without it being turned into a referendum on how good a Mormon I was. It all piled up and I said enough was enough and walked away.

    I still love my LDS friends and family and again some aspects* of the culture I was raised in. But life in the LDS church seemed to be largely homogenised, driven by simplistic recipes and checkboxes (go on your mission, go to the temple, don’t wait til you are finished with college to make babies, take the calling the bishop offers) with no real elasticity to take into account people’s quirks and gifts and aptitudes. Pile that on top of the doctrinal and belief issues, and this wasn’t a useful institution for me.

    *Aspects means that I enjoyed some of the cultural things but not others. I particularly do not enjoy the modesty culture and find it damaging to the psyche of many girls and boys. The things I loved had a lot to do with shared history (again, there’s some problematic bits, but everyone’s family tree has iffy issues) and touchstones (hymns, art) and funeral potatoes and many of the things that go along with growing up in Utah. All the things I enjoy seem to revolve around family and community though, and almost nothing doctrinally. The one appealing doctrine I can think of was the idea that we’d get to be like gods someday and make our own planets and that was pretty awesome….until I found out that my own “immutable” womanly role in this was not to make the planet but to raise the spirit children. And in recent years, the church, most notably under Gordon B. Hinckley walked back from that doctrine as well, minimising it.

  68. Shelly Snapp
    February 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I have not read all the comments so this might be redundant. Sorry in advance. It bothers me so bad that we are expected to make life changing choices at the advice of our bishop/leaders yet they have ZERO schooling or any sort of training on how to understand/help people. I went to grad school for 4 years to be a school counselor and I am pretty sure that a bishop with be just as influential as I will. Why doesn’t the church call more leaders and teachers that have some education in what they are supposed to help with?

    I think it is very important that every member of the church knows that anything said from bishops or teachers is their opinion and not gospel!! My whole life I went to church being taught that the bishop was the shepherd over the ward and knew what the ward needed. The more I see and the older I get, bishops tell people what they think is right for them, not what God thinks is right for them. It is just their opinion.

    There is no consistency in the way the lessons are taught. Because every teacher shares how they view the lesson its difficult to know the facts on the main gospel principals. Going to church for three hours to hear opinions is not a good use of time. I get so much more spiritual growth from studying on my own and not listening every sunday to different opinions and what works for other people. Three hours is WAY too long for church anyway to hear the same stuff you hear every other sunday of your life.

    I can not swallow that the “one and only true church on the earth” functions in this manner!! There HAS to be a better way!!

    • February 4, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Hey Shelly! Thank you for this!!!

  69. Dusty
    February 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I left for my kids. If I wasn’t married then I could have stayed in to make my wife (now ex) happy. The mormon culture is so black and white, in or out. The culture puts an unhealthy focus on blind obiedience to trivial rules. This takes away from the focus on Christ. When my shelf started to break I only had to look at the book of Abraham. If it was true then I could easily discount any other “anti-mormon propaganda” and stay, if it was false then I would have to leave. I wasn’t going to let my kids be in the same situation that I was in, 30, married, 3 kids and having to choose between truth with the possibility of divorce and living a lie and keeping family/friends.

    • February 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Thanks, Dusty!

  70. Stephen
    February 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    John, first of all, thank you so much for your work. Your podcast has helped me and many others feel that we are not alone in our doubts. Also, your brother Joel taught in my Priests quorum for a few years, and I really appreciate his influence in my life.
    I left the church because it was not working for me. It ceased being a source of happiness in my life. Before Prop 8 came out, I was happy to let Mormonism be a public part of my identity. I was an undergraduate at the time, and I was the ward mission leader in a Seattle ward. Prop 8 destroyed my ward’s missionary program, and really hurt the faith of a lot of good, sincere believers. It did not do a single bit of good for anybody in my ward, or anybody who was considering joining. I felt like something so spiritually destructive could not have possibly come from an inspired source. Additionally, I felt like I had trusted the church with a part of my identity, and that my public belief in the church gave the church credibility within my social circles (mostly academic). I felt like my identity had been used without my permission to give backing to a political cause, so I stopped trusting the church.
    Once my mind allowed for the possibility that the church may not be true, I spent the next two years of my life racking my brain to try to resolve everything. During this time, I also got married to an amazing, non-member woman. She helped me work through my doubts and for a time we were both active in church. Ultimately, I could never regain my trust in President Monson and in the revelatory process in particular. I was always worried that another crazy revelation would be sent down to the membership, and I would have to spend another year rebuilding my faith.
    My wife and I gave the church another try, but most of our church experience was sacrament meeting and nursery. Having kids made be more thoughtful about the church. I do not want my children to go on missions. I went on a mission to New York New York, and I felt like it was an extremely negative and unsafe experience. The church puts kids, especially boys, on the mission track beginning with primary. I did not want to fight this for the rest of my life, as that would be completely unfair to my children.
    Also, now that I am a parent, I am extremely bothered by quotes like the following:
    “I know what my mother expects. I know what she’s saying in her prayers. She’d rather have me come home dead than unclean.” – Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, April 1969, pp. 52-53.
    That is completely insane. There is no better way to describe this. It is insane, extremely thoughtless, and cruel of men who are of in positions of influence and power to say these kinds of things. If one of my kids has sex before they are ready, I would hope to be the kind of father where they can come to me, we can talk through it, and it can be an uplifting and learning experience. I cannot and will not ever put my children in a situation where they believe that these kinds of statements can come from men who speak for God. The LDS church does not empower parents through these kind of statements. It would be utterly cruel of me as a parent to put my child in a situation where I am saying one thing, but the prophets and apostles, who allegedly speak for God, are saying another thing. This is a battle that I do not want to face, because it is a lose-lose situation for my family.
    Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the church’s leaders and doctrine were completely orthogonal to the way I wanted to raise my family. I could not accept this, and that is why I no longer attend the LDS church.

    • faith_gone
      February 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It’s not just me who feels this way! You put it simply. It’s just ‘insane’.

    • February 4, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Very helpful, Stephen!

  71. Sue
    February 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    John: Upon reading all of the comments, I think I split into a new subject as far as leaving goes. (Though I was able to return years after leaving…but on my own ground.)
    I came a halting stop with the church when I bumped into Blood Atonement, Adam God theory, JS and polygamy/polyandry and all the other historical issues hidden under the learning rugs of the church. But what really happened to me was also emotional/personal crises were building too.
    I had grown up in a home supercharged with mental illness and abuse. Those hurts were attached to the church for me because they came from abusers and people suffering with BPD, schizophrenia, and depression, who were making decisions for my young self and six other siblings. Let’s just say when an 8 year old has a pointing finger coming from a harsh, abusive mother—they will step into the waters of baptizing without asking questions or a need to understand what they are doing.
    After a home teacher entered our home, molesting one of my triplet brothers, who became my molester, changing my life forever, I suppressed everything…wondering where God could possibly be. I left home when I could and tried to build faith in the LDS religion along the way.
    Later in life as spiritually matured and I faced church history issues and doubts, I found myself stuck. I doubted the church and why it would hide so many things from its members. (I hated the shame that came from being a member and feeling guilty about just about everything.) At the same time I was trudging through the emotional things I had not yet faced or healed, especially the brutal things attached to the church.
    It was in my early 40’s that my faith crisis and personal crisis collided. It was like I was stuck in a thick, hard mud, paralyzed by everything. So, I removed my name from the records and decided that I had to strip everything from my life to find out what was truly mine. I could see no other way.
    I eventually came to realize what trials and experiences had come from God and what had been created by man. As anyone can imagine the list of “what man can do wrong” was a lengthy one. I could not resolve all my questions about the church, but instead decided that I would give the same grace and mercy I want to the human beings that run it. That being said…I am a truly progressive and open minded Saint…
    I believe there are many people like me that will leave the church because of the shame, grief, and hurts that come from emotional traumatic things. I can’t be the only person that has had a faith crisis collide with an emotional crisis, causing doubts to deepen.

    • February 4, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Thank you, Sue!

  72. Mary
    February 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    1. The corporate nature of leadership with few white color workers
    2. The association of the church with some extreme Republican Values
    3. The doctrinal contradictions
    4. A culture that emphasises blind obedience
    5. Non acceptance of non-traditional belief such as a fictional book of mormon or errors in past doctrine and belief
    6. Elitism and Insularity
    7. A lack of an ecumenical outlook through a ‘one true church’ standpoint
    8. A lack of ability on the part of the institution to recognise fault and say ‘sorry’
    9. A curriculum severely dumbed down to a basic faith promoting narrative that is neither true nor honest which inherently contradicts a goal of ‘truth’ prevailing

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Thanks, Mary!

  73. Wishestobeanonymous
    February 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I was reading three books at once just before I went off to college. You could say it was the “Perfect Storm.”
    “Religion and Science” by Bertrand Russell (atheist mathematician and philosopher of 20th century, also wrote “The Conquest of Happiness”, which I highly recommend), which discusses how science is the domain of knowledge, while religion’s domain is of spirituality and explaining the unknown. As science begins to be able to explain more and more unknowns, the domain of religion must recede in terms of the unknown. Therefore, he concludes that religion ought only serve a spiritual purpose and let go of all truth claims. I concluded the same and was confused as to why the Mormon church makes truth-claims that are blatantly false.
    “The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature” by Timothy Ferriss (not 4-Hour guy), in which he posits that science and liberty exist in a virtuous cycle or not at all. He recounts many, many examples and debunks superficial counter-examples throughout history to support his thesis. Essentially his conclusion is that the right to dissent is paramount to a successful and rational society and results in a better world and protection of an individual and his freedoms and happiness.
    There is not much room for dissent in the Mormon church, so I was compelled to conclude than the church is an incredibly authoritarian institution and therefore unhealthy and wrong to be a part of if you don’t “fit.”
    “Rough Stone Rolling” by Richard Bushman. This provided evidence against trusting my emotional experiences to confirm truth claims, because my emotions confirmed events, objects, and circumstances that were completely different than reality.
    The confluence of all of these ideas at once basically broke a shelf that was heavy but I didn’t really think about that much.
    Reading books that appealed to my logical/rational mind (which I was always taught to emotionally value above all else, the truth (which was taught to me as more than just spiritual “Truth”) and integrity, do what is right let the consequence follow, etc, was the real catalyst. I imagine that people who do not value the truth as much as social cohesion/community can learn and conclude everything I did but stay in the church. Since I was taught to stand for what is right, even if it meant standing alone (also taught as a prime value in Mormon church), I can no longer be a part of the Mormon church no matter how benevolent or good it might become, how it might change in the future.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Thanks, Wishestobeanonymous!

  74. February 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I think the reasons you listed on pages 8-9 are pretty comprehensive. That’s awesome! The reason I left the Church after 26 years as an active, temple-worthy member (I was Relief Society president when I left), is because I discovered that the things I was taught in seminary, Young Women’s Sunday school, and other meetings did not line up with the real history. I figured if the Church wasn’t honest about those things, then how could I trust it with my eternal salvation? And then, while I was still in the process of leaving, before coming to a definite conclusion, I began reading the “spin” that BYU apologists put on things, like saying the Church never taught xyz-doctrine, when in fact I knew it had, and I had the books and Church manuals to prove it. It was insulting and offensive to me as a devout Mormon, who believed everything every LDS prophet had taught, to hear BYU “scholars” say that those doctrines were actually only “opinions.” That’s when I said to heck with Mormonism. If I’ve been basing all my major life decisions on the opinions of Church leaders, then I’m better off following the opinions of more honest religious leaders outside of the Church. By the way John, I’m appreciate of the work you’re doing.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Thanks, Tracy!

  75. a son and a brother
    February 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    The process of leaving has taken a long time. In fact, other than my wife and a few friends, no one knows. My disaffection began with historical issues such as polygamy and the BOA and has extended to how the church treats women and LGBTs. More important than what has caused me to leave, is what the church teaches as the reason for my leaving (or at least what most members believe are the reasons for which one leaves). I must be caught in sin or have been offended. I must be swallowed up in the cares of the world or am too lazy to maintain my faithfulness. The reason I haven’t told my family that I’ve left is because I know how they will feel about me. And these are good people and my best friends. However, I will lose my standing among them. My word will never be the same. They won’t fully trust me ever again. And these are the people I love the most. Because of this I continue to go to church and go through the motions. I’ve left in spirit only. The message I wish my family and other members would understand about those of us who leave is that we are still good, honest people. Nothing has changed about my personality, my dreams and good intentions are still intact, and I have no desire to tear down their faith. Thanks, John, for dispelling the myths around these issues. What a difference it makes to us, who only wish to be understood by those we love the most.

  76. george
    February 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    This was very informative. I had struggled with most of these same issues for years. I still manage to hang on and don’t fully understand WHY. Stuck in the middle. Can’t leave and can’t enjoy staying.
    Really relate to the teachings always given to kids.”Crying=Spirit=truth”. Think this is so inaccurate and have struggled with it for years.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thanks, george!

  77. Grant
    February 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm


    First off – thanks for all you’re doing. You’re work, outreach, and podcasts have helped me and my family in so many ways. We are so appreciative of what you are doing and the sacrifices you are making.

    I was in the midst of my faith crisis and feeling completely alone and depressed when I googled “do good people leave the mormon church”. I was really afraid that I had somehow become an evil person for having doubts and losing my faith. I was afraid that I was now a terrible husband and father. I was afraid that I was one of those evil apostates I had learned about in Sunday School. Satan had somehow gotten a hold of me and my soul was lost. But through this google search I found your study and discovered that I wasn’t alone. I realized that there are good, honest people that are just searching for answers. I now no longer feel guilty for my doubts, but rather am appreciative for the things I’ve learned and how I’ve grown through this journey.

    As far as the report and survey goes – many if not most of the issues listed there did contribute to my loss of faith in the church and its truth claims. However I do want to emphasize that these issues really were just topics that served to uproot the deeper and more psychological issues I had with faith and the LDS church. These issues served more as catalysts to get me thinking about what I really, truly believed. Up until this point, I feel like my faith had been given to me and it was up to me to adopt or reject it. Parents, teachers, and leaders had provided me with a packaged faith. It was not up to me to dissect it and ponder what elements of that faith I agreed with or didn’t agree with. This was never up for discussion. Raising real concerns or asking hard questions was a sign of weakness and frowned upon. As I grew up and tried to gain a “testimony”, I came to appreciate and cherish principles such as love, service, patience, humility, and kindness. But because of the way it was presented to me, these principles were somehow directly linked to the church’s truth claims, the book of mormon, a modern day prophet, etc. If I doubted or questioned one of them, I was in essence rejecting the whole package.

    As I learned more about some of the issues in church history and theology, I found myself starting to question this idea that my faith in the LDS church needed to be so tightly bundled. I was still a true-believing mormon at this point, but I opened up to the idea of being a “cafeteria” mormon. I believe I was reading the books “Mormon Enigma” and “In Sacred Loneliness” when I finally asked myself – “Do I really believe that God would send an angel with a sword to threaten Joseph into polygamy? Or would God really threaten Emma with destruction for not accepting it? Or even more fundamentally – would God institute such a policy that was obviously bringing so much pain, confusion, and deceit into the church?” As I pondered and prayed about this, I finally let myself question honestly about these issues – and the conclusion I came to was that, no, I didn’t believe this was the work of God. And that’s when it all started to fall apart for me. I knew that my perception and relationship with God did not line up with the events I was learning about in Church history. And for the first time, I was choosing to “own” my own faith rather than accept the pre-packaged bundle from my childhood. I started researching more about the psychology of faith and reason (confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, default bias, etc.). I started questioning the logic of a testimony. For example, when I felt the spirit while reading about charity in the Book of Mormon, was it possible that the spiritual confirmation was for the principles of love and service rather than a confirmation that the Book of Mormon was a historical record? After 28 years in the church, what did I really know? What did I really believe? What principles were really important to me and what were the pillars of MY faith? This was incredibly liberating and exciting for me. Faith and spirituality had suddenly become an extremely personal experience and I was discovering a ton about myself.

    For the past year I have been going through this discovery process – figuring out what matters most to me and why. I’m lucky to be at a place with tremendous diversity – diversity in background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and faith. There are so many great and different people in the world that I find it hard to believe that there is only one set path or blueprint for happiness. I don’t pretend to “know” all the answers to life’s greatest questions. I also don’t pretend that the answers that I have found are applicable to everyone. This has been an extremely personal experience and one that works for me. I try my best to respect those who choose to believe in the entire package of the church. As for me, I continue to attend church and participate how I can. There is a lot to like about the church and its members. There are still so many things that we share that I don’t feel like it’s necessary to completely part ways. However, I don’t plan on renewing my temple recommend or practicing in the priesthood anymore. The temple recommend interview and the covenants you make in the temple seem too narrow for me and I don’t think I can honestly participate any longer. I also never felt spiritually edified from the temple ordinances and so there just isn’t a ton of justification for me to try and make that work.

    So in conclusion – yes, those specific issues did contribute to my loss of faith. However, I think it would be very simplistic and misleading if I simply checked the box that “the Book of Abraham translation issues” were one of the many issues that were on my list. I lost my faith in the LDS church when I finally started to honestly search for my own answers about the nature of God, happiness, and my relationships with others (especially with those different than me). I believe God gave me a good heart, mind, and conscience so I can use them (rather than suppress those promptings because of the teachings/doctrine of a religious leader). I don’t feel guilty about that anymore. In fact – I believe it’s my responsibility to follow those personal promptings and feelings. Again, I don’t pretend to have the answers for everyone – but I can now hold my head up high as I lead a life that I believe is true to myself.

    Thanks again, John, for all your work. I look forward to your books!

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Beautiful. Thank you, Grant!

  78. Brian
    February 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Looking back I see my disaffiliation from Mormonism to mostly be motivated by dissatisfaction with authoritarian religions that use a God vs. Satan narrative as a tool for my spiritual path.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Thanks, Brian!

  79. Melissa
    February 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Tithing. Encouraging members to pay tithing before all else, including putting a roof over the heads of their children or putting food on the table is what made me take a closer look.

    My husband and I took out 15,000 loans with each of our 2 kids because I wasn’t working on maternity leave and he was going to school and we still had bills to pay. (3 months maternity leave with no pay, 3 months after returning to work was spent paying the medical insurance premiums from the maternity leave, so 6 months with essentially no pay), and we were paying tithing on gross, not SURPLUS as taught in D&C 119. We qualified for welfare, but didn’t take it, because we had the help of my husband’s family (we lived with them). But living with them caused major issues that took more than a few YEARS to work through.

    As a parent, I wouldn’t encourage my children to pay me 10% of their income regardless if they could afford to feed/shelter my grandchildren, and I don’t think that if there’s a god, that he would demand the same of me.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

      Thanks, Melissa!

  80. February 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I’m stunned by all these wonderful responses. Thank you all so much!!!!

  81. Amber
    February 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    One of the toughest things for me, is the differences between men and women in the church in regards to sealing policies. Women only being able to be sealed once, while men are able to be sealed to ever woman they are married to. Becoming a widow in the church is so difficult because men don’t want to date someone they are not allowed to be “sealed” to. It is so sad, especially when young widows find themselves in these situations, and they continue to raise fatherless children and live life without a husband due to their sealing status. It is absurd, and there needs to be sealing policies that are equal for men and women. The church claims they do not believe in polygamy, and yet their sealing policies are just that. They have never been altered since the early church leaders instituted these policies.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:43 am

      Thanks, Amber!

  82. Karen
    February 1, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I was initially upset by the treatment of gay friends who wanted to be mormon and they couldn’t. The torture these people go through is excruciating and unneccesary. I also find the views and theology in general to be narrow, I see divinity in the entire world, and these ideas of divinity in one place now feel much too limited to me. It feels impossible to stay within a certain rigid idea when I know there is so much more outside the box.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Thanks, Karen!

  83. Peggy Webster
    February 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    (converted at age 59 when I became engaged to a mormon) I first questioned after mormon doctrines contradicted themselves. In further study I discovered the TRUTH about mormoni$m ~ the bom is NOT another testament of Jesus Christ ~ it is a testament of ANOTHER jesus christ (an impostor, thus not capitalized!). the internet was a huge help, and I am most thankful. When I learned about kolob, the inhabitants of the moon and sun, and realized that they pray to a god that used to be a man that killed it for me. The Jesus that lives in the Methodist church as the capability to forgive completely and immediately. Too many anachronisms in ld$, why was it necessary to have golden plates when they were’nt even USED in translation?? How can families be together if the goal is for everyone to populate their own planet?? It’s all a crock of crap. their leader should be P. T. Barnum, and their slogan should be “there’s a sucker born every minute”. The satanic signs on their temples didn’t help any…. and once I saw the temple ceremonies on YouTube, I became incensed that my “loving” husband wanted to subject me to that. I am THANKFUL to the one true GOD for opening my eyes and getting me OUT of that awful demonic place!

  84. Jeanmarie Todd
    February 2, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I’m not taking time first to read all the previous comments, so I hope this isn’t redundant, but I don’t think I left because of any of the issues on pp 8-9. (Though, I completely agree that they are all problems!) Once I stopped attending church, actually many years after I left, when Prop 8 passed, I looked into and did some reading on historical issues, etc. After seeing the documentary on “8: The Mormon Proposition,” I knew I had to really leave, and finally resigned formally. And all of the issues on pp 8-9 of the report confirm that I was right to leave. So why did I actually leave?

    I was emotionally, intellectually and spiritually exhausted from dealing with the cognitive dissonance, trying to make it work, trying to reconcile my doubts and my desire to live in faith and feel like I was in harmony with God. But it seemed like I was caught in a Catch-22 situation. I could never repent enough, stay faithful enough, be successful enough on my mission, live up to all the many demands of being an active Mormon (while attending a singles ward in the DC area), and be happy, too. I didn’t have the answers, I didn’t come to an epiphany at the time that the church wasn’t “true,” (what does it even mean for a church to be true? That’s the oddest idea.), but I knew I could not go on with the faith/doubt struggles, the trying to be perfect and failing miserably (in my mind), the growing sense of the unending pointlessness of it all, so I just decided to take a break, and I walked away. That’s it. I never went back. (Well, once, and the spell was already broken, and it felt really odd.) No one came after me (former RS president though I was).

    With 25+ years of hindsight, I now realize that on some level I was breaking free of the mind control that is part and parcel of all religion, but particularly the cultier ones like Mormonism. I think I just rebelled against always being made to feel guilty, that I wasn’t doing enough, that I could never reasonably expect to be doing enough. And I had found it harder and harder to maintain the childish faith that I had grown up with and that had indeed been a comfort to me through a turbulent childhood (parental divorce, many moves, parental remarriage, blending of 2 families, etc, etc.).

    I left because on some level I knew I was being mind controlled, and I rebelled. I could not have articulated this at the time, but now I’m clear. It was only *after* being free of the church for 25 years, and seeing the Prop 8 debacle with fresh eyes, that I formally left, and only then was I ready to look at the historical issues, etc. I never read anti-Mormon literature. I mainly relied on Mormon and ex-Mormon sources for information once I became interested in all these issues. This filled in some gaps in my knowledge, and led to many aha! moments, but this was all after the fact.

    It was after formally resigning that I was introduced to Mormon Stories, and I quickly became a big fan. MS and its progeny have helped me process these feelings and changes I’ve been through, and helped me to embrace my Mormon heritage without needing to be affiliated with the church itself. I’m so grateful for all you have done.

    Incidentally, after I initially went inactive, I went through an Ayn Rand/atheist phase, but it didn’t stick. I’m basically a hopeful agnostic, if I must label myself. My brain marinated in religion for so long, I long to believe in god or gods. I am feeling my way slowly, avoiding dogma and religion, but opening myself up to possibilities.
    Thanks again, John and all your helper elves! (You do have helper elves, right?)

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Thanks, Jeanmarie. And yes I “have” elves….and you’re one of them! 🙂

  85. Crawford
    February 2, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I left The Church for the simple fact that Joseph Smith was dishonest about every aspect of his story. His claims and actions were always said and done to gain or hold power, wealth, women and influence. The house of cards falls when you realize the church is built on the calculated lies of a dishonest man. Nothing that comes after is worth bothering with if Smith’s founding stories were not what he claimed.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Thanks Crawford!

  86. Anon
    February 2, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Masturbation. No, seriously . . . There are probably other examples, and you’ll probably never get people to talk about it, but anecdotally I would guess that masturbation is a very common and early experience where the Church says its wrong but it doesn’t feel wrong, doesn’t seem damaging to anybody. That’s the setup for classic cognitive dissonance that starts people thinking.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Very important, Anon.

  87. Beverly Carlson
    February 2, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I tried to live the way I was raised to live in the Mormon church. I was married in the SL temple. After twenty years of marriage and four children I had to admit that I was only happy four years out of that twenty!

    During that twenty years of marriage we both had became inactive, which caused my parents sadness. I could not live the ‘impossible gospel’. I was a failure. I sort of

    After my divorce, my children and I decided to go to a church their friends attended. This was a non-denominational, bible believing Christian church.

    This was the first time in my life I heard the pure Word of God preached from the Bible! I heard the Gospel of Grace preached from that pulpit.

    I had lost my salvation from the Mormon church when I divorced, if not before!

    I found my salvation in a man named Jesus Christ! I accepted His salvation, mercy, love and forgiveness.

    I realized I didn’t need a church, a husband, a temple marriage, the priesthood. All I needed was to ask Jesus into my heart and for forgiveness.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Beverly.

  88. Tyson
    February 2, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I believe it’s been said several times already and in several ways, but the psychology and neuroscience of belief and behavior that explains and accounts for religious faith so well. That combined with simply accepting that people of all faiths and non-faiths everywhere have “spiritual” and powerful experiences to affirm their own beliefs and these experiences are every bit as valid as any LDS experience.

    • Brian
      February 2, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Oh, yeah! This was also a huge factor for me. Psych 101 at BYU opened my eyes.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Thanks, Tyson!

  89. Brian
    February 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Social control. It’s like 1984. I felt like I was being asked to turn off my brain. When I asked hard questions, I was told that I “can’t think like that”, and that I was opening the door for Satan to deceive me. But I felt like I was honest!

    I realized that the social control and pressure that the church exerts on members is just like the social control and pressure used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, The Worldwide Church of God, and any number of other groups claiming to have the “one and only truth”. For example, we villify non-believers and apostates, we make blind obedience and deference to authority a virtue, we discourage engaging with any critical ideas, allow discussion of doubts only behind closed doors, we shame doubters, and we say that critical ideas only come from Satan. To be honest, I found that the church behaves very similarly to common cults. This was not the only reason, and spiritual and historical issues were high on the list, too, but this is one I don’t feel your study covered.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Thanks, Brian!

  90. February 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    My disaffection came after I realized that by merely following checklist items pounded into us by the church, I did not feel as if my relationship with God was growing. I was following all the seminary answer commandments and yet I felt myself growing further and further from God. I was reading the scriptures, going to church, paying tithing, doing my visiting teaching and other callings and obeying the WOW. I would attend each Sunday thirsting to know more about Christ’s ministry and life and left each week empty. I blamed the culture of church and hoped more folks would focus on Christ if there were more good examples of Christ centered talks and testimonies. However, these never came as the years went on. Lessons on food storage, paying tithing, word of wisdom, and church history were abundant. But lessons on Christ’s ministry here on earth were scant. I felt the talks and lessons at church were focused on how to stay Mormon–not focusing on staying Christian. For me, I feel that unselfish service to our fellow human beings (ie. the example of Mother Theresa) isthe key to feeling closer to God and essential for being a true disciple. I was YW President and desperately tried to focus our time with the girls on service and strengthening their time with God as well as fellowshipping each other. Ironically, all the mandated church/stake activities took time away from this. Modesty fashion shows, camp kickoffs, new beginnings, personal progress, and trek were apparently what they needed to fill their time with. I really struggled with directing a program that seemed to focus (again) on completing checklists. Then City Creek happened. That was the catalyst that threw me in my faith crisis. I just could not believe God sat at the head of the boardroom table and said, “Yes! A place to focus on material possessions is the where I want this money!” Finally, the last straw were the historical issues discussed in the first survey. I just don’t believe polygamy to be gateway to the highest degree of heaven. I have just begun my break from Mormon church. I have recently attended a non-denominational church. It’s not perfect. But it also doesn’t claim to be either. I find the hour of praise worship a breath of fresh air. Simply spending an hour focused ENTIRELY on our Savior is very humbling. I hope to be able to return to the Mormon church as there are many familial repercussions if I don’t.

    You could pretty much sum up my statements above with two statements:
    1) Corporate correlated church has swallowed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    2) As stated above, teachings at church focus on keeping people Mormon (via cultural markers) and not necessarily serving our fellow beings and building a personal relationship with God.

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Thanks, ateam777!

  91. Claudette
    February 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    I really appreciate this chance to say something public about why I no longer believe. I have only attended baptisms and blessing in the last 20 years, and yet, the church has a strong pull on me. I wish that weren’t true.

    Leaving started with the ERA, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I was a young mother trying very hard to live all the teachings of the church. In fact, I started a family knowing in my heart that I wasn’t ready for the rigorous demands of motherhood. And then along came the ERA and the United Nations decade of the woman. (These are connected in my mind if not in reality.) I watched as Sonja Johnson was publicly pilloried by the church, and Utah women were encouraged to attend the International Year of the Woman at the the Salt Palace to support the church’s stance on… WHAT?? It sounded like we were being asked to denigrate ourselves as women. I KNEW that we were being asked to support the Lord’s plan, but it sure sounded like something else to me. Then I heard Sonja Johnson on Phil Donahue. I didn’t hear hate from her. She hardly sounded angry. What I heard was passion, and every thing she said made sense to me, echoed my own renegade thoughts. But I didn’t trust myself. I trusted the church. I swallowed down my inner feminist and continued to put my trust in the church. I celebrated when the priesthood ban was lifted and felt a little better about denying my pain and pretended that it was all about revelation and nothing about convenience, pressure, and necessity. I was busy raising too many children and ignoring my own still, small voice.

    And then I broke. And then I found me.

    Like I said before, the church still has a strong pull on me, so I am angry about the church’s involvement in Prop 8. I cheer for the women working on the “Ordain Women” movement. I am frustrated as I watch the church’s mental gymnastics to explain church history. I am disgusted by the church’s meddling in gay rights in Utah, the building of City Creek, the huge sums spent on expensive, opulent temples, the covert support of the Republican party, the emphasis on silly things, such as limiting ear piercings to two, at the expense of important issues like helping those in need, and of course, I am angry that I was barred from attending my children’s weddings. My children who are believers love me even though I am not. I wish they didn’t feel the need to worry about me.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Thanks, Claudette!

  92. Greg
    February 3, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Thought of something else – 4th of July Fast Sunday. That was, and very appropriately, my last day to attend, other than a family thing here or there.

  93. Nick
    February 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

    The vilification and “othering” of those who are not on the same spiritual path. I am horrified by the endless ways that Mormonism excludes and separates. Everything from temple recommends, missions, and priesthood bans down to dress standards and sacrament worthiness are all formal markers that give the opportunity to exclude. The desire to worship in simply not enough – you will be “othered” if you do not adhere to a strict set of arbitrary requirements that dictate everything…right down to what you eat and drink to the underwear you wear.

    Dishonestly about church finances. Mormons often scoff at other churches with paid clergy and yet seem oblivious to the salaries of general authorities, grotesque spending on projects like City Creek, and the generous funds poured into corporate marketing and branding.

    As others have said: masturbation. I find it unhealthy, unnecessary, and completely immoral to monitor the sexual practices of children and young people.

    Like many here, I find so much of Mormonism to be in direct opposition to a universal understanding of Christ’s ministry. If we are to simply ask “What would Jesus do” in instances within Mormonism, I think Jesus would perhaps not bar a mother from her child’s wedding, ask a 15 year old to not take the sacrament because he masturbates, or spend church funds on a shopping mall.

    To paraphrase Richard Rohr…somewhere along the way God became a proposition to prove rather than a mystery to live into; ideas, concepts, and dogmas to get right rather than a Presence to know….and the Bible became a textbook to study rather than a Story to find oneself in and live into.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, Nick!

  94. Nick Oakey
    February 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I am a little late but I would be interested to see data on a population of TEA who fall into these categories. Truth be told I feel very alone in this respect without many people my age and in my position to turn to for a good discussion or a little validation. I feel a bit overlooked…it is disconcerting for me to find little representation of my specific demographic.

    • Nick Oakey
      February 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Wow didnt realize til now…I meant YSA

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Thanks, Nick!

  95. Alison
    February 3, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I come from a very orthodox LDS family and my parents are very conservative in their views/politics.

    I have a gay brother who struggled for years to change himself since that is what the church was telling him at the time. My parents did not react well at all when he told them. They wanted to love him but really did not know how and the church at the time gave them no resources to learn anything accurate about LGBT issues. They told him it was a choice and that if he turned to the church/Lord he would be “fixed”. He spent a summer in Hawaii working on the church pineapple farm which was a program designed to help teenagers who needed “help”, he attended BYU and listened to damaging counsel there from counselors/leaders, he served a mission…all the while trying everything he could to figure out how to love himself and make this work. It didn’t and he almost ended his life. When he realized he no longer believed the church was guided by God in the LGBT area he left the church. My parents basically turned their back on him for the church. Their relationship had permanently been damage as they made it very obvious they choose the church over him. He had never fully recovered from this experience.

    As a teenager I had about 5 years where I became inactive and just rebelled against everything. I made some very poor life choices during this time and was unhappy. Racked by guilt/shame and wanting love from my parents and acceptance I just kept bouncing back/forth trying to make better life choices and figure things out. It was never doctrinal at this point…just teenage rebellion with WOW and moral issues. I hit rock bottom and decided to get my life in order and go through the repentance process of being disfellowshipped. It was a long hard road but it gave me the structure to make better life choices, have a community, feel love/acceptance from those around me and my parents and relieved my guilt. It was a wonderful decision for me and I felt like I had a fresh start. I applied to attend Arizona State University and move forward with my life.

    After my freshman year I met a RM and got married at age 19 in the temple. I did not finish school but instead we began having kids and I helped babysit to earn money as my husband completed his degree and went to BYU Law school. For the next 15 years we were very active raising our 4 kids and holding numerous callings as we moved around after completing school. We lived in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Boston and Ohio and each move was easier because we had the church community immediately to help us meet people and get settled. Over the years we had our struggles and my hubby had some personal challenges that he tried to work through. The leadership was not skilled in helping him understand those challenges and the advice/interaction we had over the years with various leaders made things very difficult for us. He was trying everything he could do just be spiritual enough to have these challenges/behavior go away and not be a problem. He was told if he just worked hard enough, prayed, served and turned to the Lord……. amazingly similar advice given to my gay brother over the years. This resulted in a lot of shame/guilt/emotional distancing/difficulties for us as we struggled to understand and figure it all out in our marriage. We also realized we had some more relaxed, unorthodox views as a result of both of our personal experiences…. we felt some of the sexual attitudes in the church were unhealthy. We felt there was so much pressure put on youth/adults over things that seemed normal, healthy sexual things. I was very torn about the entire LGBT thing since I loved my brother and couldn’t understand the church’s stance.

    As time went on and my hubby continued to struggle he began to look for outside sources to learn about his behavior, how his mind worked, how to change behavior, etc. He began to read a lot. We found a therapist that was not connected to the church or LDS Social Services and it was amazing to experience the difference! He helped my hubby understand what addiction was, the cycles he was experiencing and how to learn what his triggers were and how to replace his drug of choice with healthier things. It was incredible the difference this made!!! I was able to meet with the therapist and talk through my hurt and confusion and get healthy information and advice. My hubby learned to understand his needs better and so did I. As he did this he began to realize what had helped him was not the church “inspiration”…. it was science and outside of the church. He read a ton of books about his brain and how it works and came to the realization that he no longer believed what he had been experiencing his whole life as “spiritual” was actually coming from God. He believed it was the connections he had made in his brain over the years through his family, church, conditioning, etc and he was given the definitions of spiritual to describe these moments. He vividly remembered these moments with fondness and continued to have moments where he felt those types of emotions but no longer defined them as spiritual. All of the things he had put on his shelf over the years came crashing down and since he no longer could rely on spiritual experiences in order to know truth….he had to rely on logic and he couldn’t put many of them back on the shelf as a result. He had no issues with the church itself (other than things he personally felt were unhealthy/damaging) and did not look into church history or anything. He just didn’t believe in God. He thought the church was just as good as any other church and although he didn’t believe some of it…he didn’t really study it those issues at all.

    For two years he tried to figure out if he could still believe without relying on emotional/spiritual feelings and he couldn’t. He met regularly with our Bishop and was very honest about what he was feeling and experiencing. They released him from his calling as YM President. They asked him not to participate in Scouting since this required a belief in God and he no longer had one….he was isolated and had no way to contribute or serve. He came each week with me and tried to make comments when he felt he could relate to family situation, common things but over time those became harder to do. It was a VERY difficult time for us as we made this transition and a very difficult thing for our relationship. I watched him struggle and cry over this loss of his faith. I felt devastated about what was happening. My whole life seemed to be falling apart! I had married an RM, we were going to be that old active couple serving a mission together! Was I going to be attending church along now for years? It was amazing to see how much of our life and the way we looked at things revolved around the church and now we no longer had that in common. He was free to question things and not just accept/obey and I was struggling to hold onto doing/viewing things the way I was being told at church I needed to view them. Prop 8 happened and we couldn’t even talk about it because I had such internal conflict! I felt it was totally wrong and I thought people should be able to get married to who ever they wanted…but the church was saying all this terrible, horrible stuff was going to happen if they were allowed to do that. We couldn’t discuss it as it caused too much tension. We had to learn how to communicate all over again and how to respect each other. We had to learn to focus on all of the many things we had in common and stop focusing on the things that we no longer shared. It was soooooo hard. I felt immense pressure to not lose my testimony and hold onto things for the family now as the remaining parent that was believing/active.

    We had a daughter at BYUIdaho as well as a son there preparing for a mission. My hubby honored my request that he not discuss his new perspectives with the kids and I shared with them what was going on with him. When we realized he could no longer attend church as it was becoming a negative for him they were sad. It was something they just could not understand….how could their dad not believe in God? Each week I attended church with my two younger kids (one in high school and one in junior high). Each week I cried. I felt like a beacon was shining down on me each Sunday as we had once been in ward correlation meetings with our callings and now we were the subject at ward correlation meetings….how can we help the Udall’s? How can we help Alison now that she no longer has a priesthood holder? My life was viewed as tragic….my marriage and family situation were sad. People didn’t know how to react and or act around me. Even though my hubby never brought it up with anyone they all pulled back from us. All of our friends over the next year began to stop inviting us to do social things. They all retreated…even from me. One Sunday in tears I pulled several of them together in the cultural hall and tearfully tried to explain how difficult this was that they were pulling back and how much I and Jordan needed their friendship through this. They were angry at him for doing this and they had lots of fears…..fears that had been instilled in them throughout the years in church about interacting/being friends with someone who left the church. It was a very painful, emotional discussion for me as I made myself vulnerable to them and let them know how much I was hurting and needed them. It was never brought up again after that discussion and they continued to retreat. Each week I attended church and cried and felt more and more isolated. After 2 years of this we decided we really needed to move to have a fresh start. Somewhere where no one would know our family as we had been before….where they could just accept us as a mixed-faith family. Perhaps members could be our friends if we had a fresh start and they just met us as we were. We had lived in Ohio for 15 years… was a very painful, difficult realization as we recognized we had to move.

    My son in high school pulled away from the church and realized he no longer believed. He tried a semester at BYU for one last attempt and realized he just could not make church work anymore. My daughter got married in the temple and my hubby sat outside. It was a very painful experience for us….and he took the high road and supported/loved her but privately it hurt and made me angry that the church required this to be done in a way that excluded family. Our son served his mission and my hubby supported him financially, wrote him regularly and focused on positive things they could share about their experience.

    We moved to Montana and began again. I was so hopeful that perhaps I could find that sense of community again and feel loved/included. The years in Ohio had made me realize how difficult it was to be in the church and on the fringes of what was considered normal…. the community is wonderful if you fit in! If you are single/childless/LGBT/widowed/mixed-faith/choose to not have children/feminist…..then you stand out like a sore thumb. The lessons/talks/theology is geared toward a traditional family. When you don’t fit that mold it becomes very apparent repeatedly that something is not quite right with you or your situation. You are not ideal. Your life is somehow flawed or lacking. Each week in Montana in the new ward I tried hard to fit in and I was called as the first counselor in the YW. I love the youth and enjoyed getting to know them. I realized the lessons often had things in them that I no longer thought were healthy….. attitudes about sexuality/modesty/male-female roles/obedience… became challenging for me to teach the lessons and share the things from the manual as well as share personal thoughts/experiences. I worked hard to make sure I was not saying something inappropriate but my attitudes had become unorthodox in many ways. I loved my husband. He was a wonderful man and father. He was totally supportive of my desire to be active if it made me happy. He worried that each Sunday I cried and became sad and he would ask me if this was still a good thing but he was respectful of my decision and supported whatever I wanted to do.

    Each week was hard and I began to pull back. My 15 year old daughter and I really struggled to fit in. In the YW lessons she was hearing things about marrying in the temple and how you needed a priesthood holder in your family to provide …..she tried to share that she loved her dad and he was supportive and wonderful but there was always this underlining quickly changing the topic if she said something. She tried sharing her views and they were brushed over. She was tired of feeling sad each week for her family situation. She was tired of the modesty/black-white views about those outside of the church. We were both very aware of the reality that members had a lot of misunderstanding about people who leave the church!!! They viewed them as having had some sort of flaw, sin, lack of faith….etc. The hopes we had for making friends in the church didn’t happen for the same reasons ….we didn’t fit in. They didn’t know how to invite us to do things when I had a gasp… inactive hubby! So many Sundays I sat through lessons feeling like I could not express myself when something was being said that was hurtful/judgmental/incorrect about non-members or those who had left. The whole us vs. the world/them thing became tiresome and negative for me. I began missing Sundays…..and those Sundays were so much easier. No crying. No feeling sad about my marriage/life. I was released from my calling. I still drove my daughter to church and my hubby drove her each morning to seminary but she began having a lot of internal conflict. We talked about our challenges that we were both facing as we tried to figure out what to do….we felt just so isolated.

    My temple recommend expired. I began attending less and less and noticed how much happier I was. I felt such a sense of relief! I could enjoy myself without feeling guilty for loving my life in my mixed-faith marriage. My Bishop came to see me and we he expressed concern for me. I tried to explain what my challenges were and the pain that I felt and he told me that if I loved the Lord enough I would come and stick with it. I told him I wasn’t sure why God would expect this of me…..would he really want me to put myself through this each week? I said I no longer believed you could really KNOW whether God existed and that I felt we were each just trying to do our best. He was disturbed by my unorthodox view of (T)ruth and stated that just like gravity it didn’t matter whether my hubby believed God existed or not…he did exist (like gravity). I explained that I didn’t think you could really compare gravity to knowing God….but he said yes you could. It was not a fun conversation and I just felt he didn’t even listen to me, try to understand how hard my situation was what I was feeling and just preached at me. My son was dating someone pretty seriously and I recognized if he got engaged I needed a temple recommend to attend. I decided to look at the questions again and realized I wasn’t sure I could answer them yes anymore! I wrote something from FMH which they posted asking for feedback about the temple recommend questions as well as on Joanna Brook’s site. I received some very interesting responses and feedback. It was the first time I explored the online communities for those experiencing a faith crisis or thinking in more unorthodox ways.

    Needless to say I spent the next year searching, reading, exploring the online communities and gave myself permission to actually study the church as if I was an investigator. If I was going to stick this out and stop sitting on the fence….I had to know was I going to jump back in the church or get out. Did I actually still believe the foundational aspects of a testimony? I read voraciously!!! I read everything that I could get my hands on and tried to expose myself to a broad range from believing members to those who had left. I couldn’t believe the stuff I was learning! How had I been a member my entire life and not even know the history of the church? It was a roller coaster of emotions as I learned and studied. After the year was up…..I realized I could no longer say I believed the foundational claims of the church. I didn’t believe Joseph Smith had actually received golden plates or translated the BOM. I didn’t believe polygamy came from God. I didn’t believe in the One True Church claim anymore or that the church had any special authority or been restored. I didn’t believe many of the teachings had come from God…but rather had come from men who were influenced by their own biases/culture/experiences/time frame and were making policies/doctrines/decisions based on that. I no longer felt that I needed to accept/obey the things that had not felt right for so long! It was a relief to realize I could pick/choose what felt right to me! I felt the church was a church like other churches…. filed with lots of great people trying to do good things but not speaking/acting in some special fashion from God. I considered whether I could continue with these unorthodox views that I had developed over the last 8 years since my hubby stopped believing. Could I find a place within the church now that I didn’t have to feel guilty about my unorthodox views? I had been trying to do that already for so long and it had made me miserable. The negatives for me outweighed the positives. There was not enough left to hold onto the church if it was just a church like all others. Why would I put myself through this weekly pain and isolation if I didn’t have a sense of community and it didn’t bring me happiness? I had discovered I could make ethical/moral decisions without it and had developed friendships/community outside of it and that was working great. It also bothered me a lot that the church had not be forthright/honest about it’s history and that they continued to gloss over the messy things. I felt some of what they taught and expected was unhealthy and damaging! I looked at my brother whose been in a wonderful committed relationship for 20 years and thought of the pain/heartache/sadness he had endured…all for nothing! I thought of the many LGBT members in the church receiving the personally damaging messages they are given and the expectation they are asked to live — a celibate life— and it made me sad/mad! I no longer wanted to support/identify with the church. It was time to move on.

    It was both a relief and painful to realize my relationship with the church had really reached an end. There are many things about the church that I love and respect and can be wonderful/positive for people. There are also many aspects that aren’t. In August my son got married in the temple and this time both my hubby and I sad outside with our two younger children who no longer believe/participate in the church. It was hard and painful. We know are navigating the mixed-faith family situation where four of us no longer believe and my two older children are very active/orthodox. It’s so hard. Although we respect/support and love our children’s choice to be involved/believe in the church they are sad about our choices. That respect/support does not come our way. We have had family tell us they are so sad about our choices…..that they are sad for our two older children. How do you even respond to that? They are saying the people we have become and the choices we are making about our life are sad and that they feel bad that our children have us as parents…. that’s a terrible thing to tell someone! We recognize our life will hold lots of moments that involve the church as we attend significant events in our children/grandchildren’s lives. As we sat through our granddaughter’s blessing and a family member stood at the pulpit and expressed that “most” of the grandparents/extended family were active/faithful in the church….we felt as if a beacon was shining down on us saying….well except these guys! It was so awkward and uncomfortable and yet we hold our heads up high. We are doing our best to roll through those moments and love/support. We know we are viewed as a tragedy….a loss…we have let go of the rod. All we can do is live our lives the best we know how with integrity.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

      So wonderful. Thank you, Alison!!!

  96. February 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Lack of universality in a global church – Utahn paradigms upheld as global ensigns for religious practice. There should be no cultural root or context for revelations from a non-earthly God, yet much of the church’s statutes, revelations, and doctrinal shifts coincide with American tradition, Utahn politics, and sociocultural shifts pertinent to the Mountain West.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Thanks, naomie

  97. faith_gone
    February 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I came from an unhappy home full of abuse and emotional pain. Yet my parents were worthy, upstanding members. My dad was a bishop, my mum the RS president for a long time. Then stake callings etc. But they were terrible parents. Yet their parenting was directly from church teachings, from parenting books written by general authorities. They forced us to pray. They forced us to obey. I guess that’s the only way to get children to listen, because if the spirit was tangible, then we would have felt it, right? There’s no need for indoctrination.
    When the apologists say ‘but look at the good the church does’ are they even looking at their evidence? They should do an in-depth sociological study on the effects of growing up mormon.

    I’ve grown up in the church and it caused me emotional and psychological pain. I would have faired better without it. It never made sense. I only stayed because I thought it was true.
    I thought it was real. I put up with the cognitive dissonance of what I was taught vs reality.
    Putting into practice what I was taught isolated me, denied me friendships, developed bad thinking (black and white, splitting etc), brought me into some terribly toxic situations. Magical thinking and making decisions based on youthful, immature feelings really wasted much of my youth and denied me access to my brain. To rational thought and to decisions which should have seen me move on in life a lot quicker than I have. Decades of bad advice from apostles and general authorities affected by self esteem and made me subservient, an easy walkover. Someone always giving, in an unhealthy way. Specifically Elder Oaks advice for abuse victims and Elder Ballard’s youth talks about how women should make themselves ‘pretty’ for the men in their lives. These are the ones that stick out. These are the ones that played on my fragile mind, Caused me anguish. Deepened my sense of self hate and unworthiness. Oh if I could meet those men face to face and tell them the pain and suffering they have caused in my life. Those arrogant, self justifying men who think they are wise and more learned than experts in their field. It’s only now I can allow myself to feel anger. I sucked these things up. Always interpreting them as there was something wrong with me. They were always right and I was always wrong. I subdued myself and got on with being a good member. Because when the apostles speak, then it’s from God, right? So serve in callings, mission, married in the temple, children born in the covenant. Pretending to be happy in a culture that is poison, with people so exhausted and unhappy, they pull each other down. Prayers don’t get answered. Spirit doesn’t guide. Blessings never work. Put it on the shelf. Must be me. Not worthy enough. Anyway, it wasn’t until I stumbled across the Book of Abraham translation issue that my shelf literally dropped. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I lay in bed for a week and then I got up and was determined to study harder, learn more and make it work. But instead of restoring faith, I uncovered lie after lie after lie. Joseph Smith was a terrible man. A terrible, disgusting man. The witnesses were dubious and unreliable. The ‘sealed book’ statement had several different, more credible sides to it than what I had been taught. The ‘pentecostal’ experience in the temple was denied and put down to alcohol and fasting/sleep deprivation by one of the witnesses to the BOM. And then the scales fell from my eyes and I could see clearly for the first time in my life. It’s a fraud. And the weight falls from my shoulders and for the first time in my life – I smile. I see everyone around me and I feel LOVE for them. Because I’m not responsible for them. And guess what, they are not BAD. I don’t have to figure out what is ‘secretly making them miserable’. I can take them on face value. I can relate to them. No longer an outsider desperately trying to figure out where exactly the ‘evil’ of the world is. People just living their lives, trying to be good people, doing good in the world. In the church, however, there is nothing done for the goodness of the world. No great LDS poets or scientists or humanitarians have ever contributed anything to the world. The closer you look, the more lies, greed and dishonesty you find within the compounds of the LDS church. And what happens when you discover this? You are threatened to be cut off from your family if you tell them what you have discovered. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Christian. It’s morally bankrupt. It’s on par with David Koresh and the Moonies. It’s a fatalistic cultish monster eating up all the energy and goodness of the young, tossing aside the old if they dare step out of line. It’s not a religion. It’s not spiritual. It’s divination. It’s a cult. There is no agency in the LDS church. There is no common consent. Their is propaganda and there is totalitarianism. It is one big MLM fraud.The men sitting at the top of the heirarchy are on record with their self righteous justifications for lying and dishonesty. They can try and deny their statements but they can’t erase them in this century. Their testimonies are their witnesses. they can burn their diaries, but they can’t undo the indoctrination. We know what we were taught. We know what they have said to us. We know which books to find their words in. Even if they think its not all true, they think they are doing good, but they are perpetuating religious fraud and supporting people to be led by a false prophet. They are the ravenous wolves in sheep clothing. They are the tares and we are the wheat. We are the ones with our integrity intact, leaving because we don’t want to lie, to cheat careful to avoid what we see conflicts with what Christ taught, what the scriptures teach. Careful to be on the Lord’s side. It’s they who preserve ‘at all costs’. I .wonder if they ever consider these things or did they tip the scales of delusion and pride a long time ago, that this is just off the record? I am all up for being wrong. But they bring nothing forward to restore faith. Just more lies and spin and demands for money. Disgusting. Moral cowards. Too arrogant and cowardly to admit they’ve been duped. Not worthy of respect, never mind adulation. I can’t even tell you how disgusted and angry I am. It’s too much. Especially because I’m stuck. Putting off the inevitable family trauma when I finally decide to leave. I’m leaving for my children’s sake. I will not perpetuate and teach things that are not true to those whom I love the most. To allow anyone else to do that to my children, would make me an abhorrent mother but a terrible human being.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

      So sorry for the pain, faith_gone.

  98. beutiful5678
    February 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I haven’t left yet but my foot is halfway out the door. The historical issues or the historicity of our canonized texts have never really been a thorn in my faith. My father left the Church when I was 10 and sufficiently inoculated me against the messiness of Church history. (Although, I don’t think that was his intention – initially when he left he was kind of bitter which is natural, in my opinion.) What really gets me are the social issues – the homophobia and very fervent opposition to marriage equality, the lack of women’s voices and the castigation of feminists, the hardline approach to gender roles, and the alienation and marginalization of anyone who doesn’t fit the norm.

    I guess what really gets me is that much of the time instead of teaching Christ-like principles like love, charity, empathy, meekness, we teach conditions like being married in a heterosexual marriage, bearing children, being a SAHM for women, and being providers for men. We hold these up as the “ideal” and if for some reason you do not fit the “ideal” (whether by choice or not) tough for you. Deal with it. That is your “trial” to bear. What I don’t get is that the Church – Jesus Christ’s Church – is suppose to take those who are not in ideal circumstances and lift them up. Sometimes, this happens. I’ve seen drug addicts recover and come to live happy, full lives with the help of the Gospel. But sometimes – many times – the Church is alienating for those who don’t fit the “ideal.” This is the opposite of what is suppose to occur.

    I think if we went back to teaching the basics – Christ-like principles – we’d see the “ideal” condition naturally come to fruition in the lives of Saints and I think that we’d find that the “ideal” condition is much broader than our narrow scope allows.

    • beutiful5678
      February 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      I should have worded my last paragraph better –

      I think with a renewed focus on Christ-like principles we’d see “ideal” conditions naturally come to fruition as we strive to live Christ-centered lives….

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Thanks, beutiful5678

  99. Ann
    February 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Church History of course, but also feeling like I was never good enough. I would compare myself constantly with other women in my ward that I knew the priesthood respected because they were always the leaders of the ward and stake. I think I lived my 35 years in the church trying to prove myself to the priesthood by being someone who I really wasn’t so I could feel accepted. I guess I was living a life that I felt God wanted me to live because of what I was taught in the church ( a lot RS lessons). I felt a lot of heartbreak, but the killer was when my son came home early from his mission. He left for his mission a healthy young man, and came back wounded and broken. I could hardly bare to see him like that. I kept pleading with leadership to give his endorsement back so he could go back to BYU, take the sacrament or something. I didn’t have the power (priesthood) to help in those ways. Wasn’t his suffering enough by coming home early and feeling the shame? The leaders were so consumed by going by the handbook, that I don’t think that they ever had real empathy. The bishop would tell him that he wanted to see in his eyes that he was truly repentant and that included going to church EVERY Sunday, some of which was sitting through missionary homecomings and farewells. He was In and out of counseling for a couple of years and I constantly worried that he would end his life. Does the church realize by putting so much emphasis on missions, that the ones that try and make things right (come clean and repent) are the ones that live in depression and never really forgive themselves? By learning the church history, I had to ask myself the question – If the church isn’t what it claims to be, then why would I put myself and children through all of this suffering? I had to walk and leave my community behind.

  100. Lisa
    February 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I would add “I lost belief in religious belief.” Having a very close relationship with a Mormon who sincerely doubted core religious beliefs (e.g. God’s existence) led me to study philosophy with the mindset that perhaps I could be wrong about everything I had thought I knew with certainty. Learning that there is no consensus regarding “the big questions” was mind blowing to me, completely antithetical to the quality of inevitability and obvious truthfulness my beliefs had had my entire life. This introduction of uncertainty caused me to study and search with a new intensity to validate my beliefs or the decision to have faith in these beliefs, but the more I learned about epistemology and social constructs of reality, the more I struggled to find what for me was a justifiable reason to believe. In this context, Mormon tools for “knowing” (praying, the witness of the Holy Ghost, fasting, scripture reading) lost their legitimacy, as they struck me as bias-enabling, non-robust, and lacking external validity. I wanted to “know” what was “true” and with regards to the religious claims I had previously taken for granted, but it seemed no longer possible to evaluate the non-subjective truthfulness of these claims. When I tried to shift from “knowing” to “accepting on the basis of faith,” I struggled to find a principled reason to have faith in this set of beliefs as opposed to any other set of beliefs. I was unsuccessful. No longer able to accept Mormon epistemology and thus the claims that depend on Mormon epistemology, it was very difficult to remain active and authentic in a “certainty” culture. I experienced my truth seeking and the accompanying doubts and fundamental uncertainty as incredibly shameful and isolating. I silenced myself so as to not “rock the boat” or potentially disrupt anyone else’s worldview. I cried every time I sang “I Believe in Christ” or “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” I felt unworthy to go to the temple because I couldn’t answer with conviction the first five questions in the temple interview. I had dreams about Jesus’s Second Coming in which we walked side by side in silence, and the only thing I felt was his clear disappointment in me. Staying was incredibly painful and crazy-making, but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving and of letting go the Mormon story line that was supposed to be the rest of my life. When the emotional and psychological strain started to interfere with my professional life, I took a break from which I’ve never returned. I’ve since joined a religious community embraces uncertainty, encourages critical thinking, and cultivates core virtues of compassion, service, self-betterment, and social justice. It’s a much better fit for someone like me who can no longer see find the same value in religious beliefs dependent on historical or metaphysical truth claims that exceed our capacity to reliably assess.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Thank you. Lisa!

  101. anonymous
    February 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I have come to believe that there are certain people who just can’t be healthy believing in the Mormon church as it functions now. I may be one of those people. I think my husband is–he tried to kill himself about two years after we were married, because of shame over porn use and repeatedly overdrawing our bank account. I have friends, too, who because of the way their minds work, or because of backgrounds of childhood abuse, find the emphasis on sin (and small sins), repentance, and perfection to be a painful mental trap. It’s easy for someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety, OCD, or clinical depression to say, “Well, the church doesn’t teach us to hate ourselves for our sins. So the church has nothing to do with the way you’re feeling now.” And while it’s true that people with these disorders may suffer them whether or not they believe in the LDS church, I know firsthand that the way certain things are taught really can make things so much worse. I had one friend who had to leave BYU, and eventually the church (though she does have doctrinal disagreements as well) because being there was literally killing her. Her life was in danger, because to her, the church’s emphasis on perfection, on repenting of even small sins, was just another stick to beat herself up with. She’s okay now. My husband left the church, and he’s okay now. They both got other help eventually, but leaving the church was the first step in their mental healing. Not because they don’t care about “sinning” any more, but because now they can just accept that doing things that aren’t so great is a part of everyday life, and love themselves and the world around them anyway, and move on. No one is telling them they have to feel sorrow in order to be forgiven. They aren’t facing a constant precipice of self-hatred and despair, risking a slip and a free fall every time they make a mistake. Some people’s automatic reaction to my story is going to be that these feelings have nothing to do with the church; that it is Satan making my husband and friends, and myself, feel this way. It isn’t. This is the way our minds work, either through malfunction or genetic predisposition or childhood trauma. And because of the way our minds work, trying to be a good Mormon is hell on earth.

    I can tell you firsthand what happened to me. You know that scripture in D&C that says every time we repeat a sin, all the former sins come back on our head? What a terrible thing for someone like me to believe! I was emotionally abused as a child, especially once I hit the preteen years and worsening as I got older, with my mother harping on every little thing I did “wrong” and sometimes using God against me. “Satan is laughing because of your disobedience” is one I remember from my teenage years. Telling me that the fantasy stories I loved were evil because they had magic and monsters in them. Forbidding me from sleeping in my underwear lest my brother see me. Always watching, and upbraiding, and undercutting my confidence in being able to to the littlest thing on my own. I was always wrong, and always bad, and sometimes she would tell me I needed to repent. Well, sometime in my Junior year of high school, I finally really started to internalize what she was telling me about myself, and at that point, God, to me, became just like my mother. I started getting rid of my favorite CD’s, because they were “too dark,” or just because I was afraid I liked them more than I liked God. Sometimes I would destroy my own sketches, because they weren’t “uplifting” and I thought I was using my talents for evil. I started making promises. “God, I’m sorry for reading that book. I promise I’ll never read a book with sorcery again.” “God, I’m sorry for watching that show with inappropriate language. From now on, I promise that I’ll stop watching the minute one swear word pops up.” I know the word for this now. It’s called religious scrupulosity. And with the intense focus on “staying worthy” that I was getting every Sunday as a teenager, well, surely you can see why it was an unhealthy combination. Are you watching the wrong movies? Reading the wrong books? Hanging with the wrong people? Going on dates the wrong way? Wearing the wrong clothes? Thinking the wrong thoughts? The bit about the thoughts was especially vicious. Thinking unrighteous thoughts was something we needed to repent of. In the years since then, I’ve come to discover that the key to not having problems with sexual thoughts and other “bad” thoughts is to not care if you have them. You have to refuse to judge yourself or the thought and just move on with your day. But as a good Mormon, you’re not allowed to do that. You have to stop, and feel the right kind of sorrow, and repent, and if you do it again, it’s as if you’d never repented in the first place. And if you have problems with anxiety or OCD, that’s exactly the sort of thing that’s going to make you keep thinking the thought over and over and over. So I did. And I would repent over and over and over, hating myself more each time. This focus on sin, on “worthiness,” on repenting daily for the multitude of infractions we had surely committed, on continually striving for perfection that we knew we could not reach–I am convinced it is not healthy even for your average, mentally sound Saint. But for people like me? I can no longer believe God cares in the least. Believing that quickly leads me back into a downward spiral.

    I’m sure it’s not just the Mormon church. Any church with multiple strict rules, with purification rituals, could be problematic in the same way. But I’ve seen enough people suffer from this that I am convinced the current focus on rules and purity is doing people real harm. I remember listening to an anxious coworker talk about how he’d felt since morning that he’d done something wrong and was in need of repenting. But he had no idea what it was! He bore testimony that when he finally just repented, he’d felt relief, and knew that God loved him. I knew by that point it wasn’t God telling him he’d sinned. It was anxiety; the same anxiety that brought him home from his mission early because he couldn’t deal with all the dos and don’ts and the pressure to be perfect and still remain healthy and sane.

    I have many other problems with LDS doctrine and practice. This has not been the only reason I’ve lost faith.But the peace my husband and I have found since first distancing ourselves from this set of criteria, impossible to meet, that was dominating our minds and taking away our happiness, feels much more like God to me than anything I ever learned about the evils of putting an earring in the wrong place, making your hair the wrong color, not reading your scriptures enough, going to the temple enough, writing in your journal enough, praying enough, praying WELL enough, and on and on and on. As long as this is the emphasis Sunday after Sunday, I will never be able to fully engage, even if I wanted to.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Thank you, anonymous. Great story.

  102. Monica
    February 3, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    A biggie for me is that I lost faith in prophets, not just general authorities. We have been taught that they will never lead us astray or be allowed to teach false doctrine. Explain Adam God theory or blacks and the priesthood or blood atonement. If I have to question every point of doctrine a prophet speaks, I would rather just seek revelation from god myself on the topic and skip the middle man.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Thanks, Monica.

  103. Patrick
    February 3, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Things that bother me are: It is the respective families right to preside/be in charge of and direct funerals, weddings, etc., as they see fit. I think the church should be an avenue of support for the needs and wants of a family during these times, without the requirement that people fit certain correlated molds.

    To this day I regret ever having had a temple marriage and excluding my parents and other family members because they didn’t have a temple recommend. I think marriage is a family affair, not just a church agenda. Church leaders should allow members, in their own timeframe, to be sealed in the temple after having had a civil marriage ceremony so that family members who don’t have a temple recommend can attend the wedding. It seems the church discourages and marginalizes weddings outside of the temple. As a youth, church leaders taught me that I should be married at the right time, in the right place, and by the right authority and any other way is not appropriate. It seems exceptions are made if you’re church royalty, but not if you’re a commoner.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Patrick!

  104. Patrick
    February 3, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    In my opinion, the practice of excommunicated members paying tithing through a member in good standing circumvents and undermines the purpose of the excommunication. Moreover, church leaders who encourage this practice are complicit.

    The ward budgets and activity budgets are miniscule. For the price members pay in tithing, they ought to have amazing activities, classes, workshops, etc. But almost all of the money disappears and members have to accept what little they are given to work with.

    Someday soon, I hope the church will change its policy to allow tithing-in-kind contributions where donors can contribute cash & non-cash tithes, including time, labor or services rendered, to credible organizations inside and outside of the church. In my opinion, money is a representation of one’s time, labor and services performed.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Thanks, Patrick!

  105. Name withheld
    February 3, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I felt so much guilt attending and trying to be a good member. My patriarchal blessing, given to me as a teenager promises me financial success, happy marriage, several childeren….all based on my faithfulness. So when those things didn’t happen, even tho I was a good person, BYU graduate, went on mission, attended church, took callings, it must not have been enough. I wasn’t good enough, something’s wrong with me. Now I realize I am a personality type that gets destroyed by this kind of pressure rather than uplifted. I stopped going to church to try and salvage some confidence in myself. But living in SLC, it’s still hard not to feel judged and excluded.

    I was also never comfortable with the pressure to speak publicly, starting as a child in primary. Not everyone has the gift or even basic skills to speak or pray in public. Why is that expected? It was made difficult for me to decline, as if it was a judgement of my faith that I would say no. I think I would feel more comfortable going to a church where a “professional” has a prepared spiritual lecture about something uplifting each week, we listen, we think about it, and we go home and apply it in our life if it fits.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Thanks, name witheld!

  106. Jenny
    February 4, 2014 at 4:33 am

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. What initially started my loss of faith was when I was doing online research about Prop 8 in an attempt to defend the church, and finding out that the church was using abusive “reparative therapy” for LGBT individuals. Finding out that members were literally electrocuted while simultaneously exposed to pornography, and that it was church sanctioned was THE MOST disturbing truth I ever discovered about the church.

    • faith_gone
      February 4, 2014 at 5:25 am

      This is similar to my experience and others. I think there is an increasing correlation between attempting to defend our religious beliefs, doctrinal viewpoints or characters of religious leaders and this research leading very easily to the foregone conclusion that the foundation for that religious belief, doctrinal viewpoint or faith in the character of that particular religious leader is weak at best and non-existant at worst. This is a pattern. And my biggest problem is this is not new. At some point, some people over the past 100 years have looked at these issues and decided to shelf/lie about them in order to make the foundation look stronger than it actually is. People can claim they have done it for the good of others but in reality there can be no justification for grand deception on an institutional scale. Trust is gone and you don’t regain trust by continuing to justify your position and spin your actions. Man up, I say. If this was a relationship, it would be in need of some serious therapy.

      • February 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

        Thanks, faith_gone.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Thanks, Jenny!

  107. Rick
    February 4, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Like many, the reasons for my leaving were multi-faceted. My “shelf” had grown throughout my life but I always had the belief that once/if I became a church leader, I would be given an understanding about the key challenges I had accumulated. Just the opposite happened as I saw the mechanical administration of callings given to members and the stratification of authority members are to respect, despite personal feelings and inspiration that often things are not correct.

    This “cog-dis” triggered personal study of the long-shelved issues in my life, and in a short time I came to disbelieve the truth claims of the church. But in a deeply embedded Mormon family tradition, I felt it best to attempt to keep my new beliefs from my very Mormon-committed wife. I found myself in a dual-life lifestyle — enjoying discussions with other disaffectees while appearing to be faithful at home.

    The internal conflict led to an addiction to pain medication (after an injury) which I found helpful to numb the emotional as well as physical pain. Despite the cycle of rehab/relapse over many years, it wasn’t until I became authentic and open to all about my true beliefs that I could remain free from cravings for my drugs of choice.

    The consequences of all this led to criminal convictions, divorce, loss of professional licenses and businesses, and bankruptcy. Yet once I let each one go, I felt a sense of relief that began the personal rebuilding process that I needed to be at peace with my inner soul.

    It was clear to me that in order to remain healthy — spiritually and emotionally — I had to live authentically. That journey was painful, but the peace and happiness I’ve been able to obtain today has certainly made it all worth it.

    • February 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Thanks, Rick! Wishing you well!!!!

  108. February 4, 2014 at 5:50 am

    Thanks, Jen!

  109. David Hubble
    February 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Current policy does not allow LDS Group Leaders in combat to sheppard soldiers in the same way as branch presidents and bishops do back home. My disaffection began during 15 month combat deployment in Iraq. Issues such as masturbation (which seem silly now) had to be dealt with via email to my home bishop on the other side of the planet. (LDS Group leaders are not allowed to conduct worthiness interviews.) The bishop I had to deal with was not in the military, and barely knew me, as we were a transient military family in the ward. Consequently, he did not understand my circumstances in combat, and did not express empathy for my struggles. Instead, he preached and criticized me for not being faithful like Captain Moroni. Instead of compassion and love from god (I was very repentant), I felt trapped even further while under tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual stress. I eventually began to question god’s love for me, and began to use the internet in order to strengthen my faith on my own… that is when I discovered the difficult historical issues and lost faith. By the way, the recent video produced by the church showing a man under duress like a soldier in combat because of pornography was extremely offensive. I really was in combat, and when I needed help and counsel from the priesthood, it wasn’t provided by the soldier next to me… current policy does not allow that! It was provided by an un-empathetic bishop shooting back draconian words of obedience under all circumstances.

    • February 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Powerful. Thank you, David.

  110. Josh
    February 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Perhaps this is meant for another chapter in the study and my apologies for not having the time to read through 200+ comments. But what about why the Church “leaves” transgressors. As an ex-member I have noticed that the Church has no formal or even semblance of a plan to recall the repentant. Ideas from leaders range from draconian to casual to non-existent on how to bring ex-members back into the fold. Seems to be a disconnect with New Testament teachings. For an ex-member, very often the desire to return stems from nothing more than accessibility to “saving” ordinances…and let’s leave it at that. Very few actually want to participate in the wacky cultural or extra-doctrinal parts of “church”.

  111. February 4, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Thanks SO MUCH for all of the wonderful responses! Your comments have now been aggregated. Please provide additional feedback here:

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