I am first born. My early schooling years were challenging due to my perception of feeling rejected by both peers and family. I simply never measured up to what everyone else expected I should be. I was always to blame for when things went wrong. I had many issues with self-esteem. Growing up in the LDS Church was also filled with failure and guilt, again for not measuring up to the bar. I had once been challenged by a primary teacher to memorize all 13 articles of faith. For my reward I would be privileged to an aircraft flight. I struggled to learn them and fell short of the goal set by others. I wasn't worthy enough or ever good enough to be rewarded with blessings. Rather the strong arm of penalty always seemed to overshadow anything I ever did in my childhood and youth. I felt like I had no dignity or self-worth. There are a few happy memories, such as my 7th birthday present (new bicycle) and my pet cat Smoky. As a teen I have fond memories of a scout troop trek to the Rocky Mountains, two years of high school in a foreign country and church youth dances. Mostly though, my memory of my growing up years is clouded by the painful abuse I endured until I was 13 years old. The mind has a way of keeping things from our remembrance as a sort of built in emotional shield so there is much I have no recollection of. Interpreting my emotions is tricky at best. I've felt the full spectrum of human emotion, from anger to love, from sadness to happiness. I know what it means to feel alone and sad and also to be part of something special and happy.
This life experience is why I am usually suspicious of other people's motives. I have trust issues with almost everyone and do not thrive well when criticized. My high school years were a time of drug experimentation. I was by no means an active LDS member and wanted no part of it. My final year in high school I was living at home with my father. I really wanted to forgive him for the years of hell I endured as child. I didn't have many friends, but one in particular was accepting of who I was and befriended me. He was from an active LDS family. So began my journey back into Mormonism. At about age 18, I began to question my life and it's purpose. I questioned if anyone really loved me. I began to feel guilt and sorrow for the things I had done as a teenager and wanted to make things right by returning to the Mormon fold. My mother knew the LDS Church was the path to happiness. It would please her, but my father would be silent on the matter. My high school friend and his family made me feel part of their family and I began to attend Church services again. Shortly after becoming active I attended an Education Week program sponsored by BYU. It was the tipping point in my conversion to what I thought I knew was the true Gospel. After receiving a challenge from one of the BYU presenters, I prayed earnestly for the first time in my life and received what I knew was an unequivocal answer from GOD himself that he LOVED me. I took this witness to mean that the Mormon Church was His one and only true Church.
The youth leaders seemed to be the kind of men that I wanted to be. They were successful businessmen, charismatic and respected in the community. I trusted them, believed them and admired them. I changed what I believed were my evil ways and was adopted into the family of priesthood brethren. I was ordained an Elder. I felt like I finally belonged to something important. I felt love and acceptance. No more partying. No more drinking. No more drugs. (Marijuana) No more trying to get laid. I relished the opportunity to stand and bear my testimony in sacrament meeting on fast Sunday about the truthfulness of the gospel, particularly that God loved each of us. I would feel the spirit so strongly and cry my eyes out that I knew it was true. I would bear witness of God's love for each of His children. Sometimes when the chapel was not being used and was dark, I'd go to the pulpit, kneel and pray to the Lord for confirmation of the witness I'd previously received. It never came. I believed that the Lord had already witnessed to me and that I was selfish for seeking his witness again.
The ward members rallied around me and showed their love to me. Six months later I was called to serve a mission to Japan Tokyo North where I fulfilled an honorable mission. My mission expenses were paid for partially by my father and the rest from ward donations. Living in Japan was an incredible experience. I enjoyed learning the culture, the language and cuisine. The people were generally kind and humble. I loved learning the Japanese language and became proficient. I felt like I was finally able to achieve something worthwhile. I never had measured up to my father's expectations. The things I disliked were all associated with missionary work, such as prospecting for investigators, the endless knocking on doors, riding bikes, sitting through missionary training meetings and companion inventory. Leaving missionary work was easy. But leaving friends was very difficult. I cried my eyes out at the airport saying goodbye to dear Japanese friends. I didn't have those same emotions for companions that I had served with. Coming home wasn't easy as I felt alone again and isolated. I was withdrawn for several months immersing myself in scripture and prayer in my bedroom, trying to keep the spirit. Then I began to crawl out of the cocoon I had tried to wrap myself up in and started dating.
My marriage began 9 months after my return home. My wife and I were sealed in the temple a year later. Had my single adult ward Bishop not interfered with our temple marriage plans, we would have been wed in the temple 3 months after we met. I was doing exactly what I had been trained to do and instructed to do by my mission president...get married as soon as possible. The Bishop wanted us to wait because he figured we hadn't dated long enough. We eloped. We wanted to have children right away, but it didn't happen. I felt like God was punishing us. I interpreted my patriarchal blessing to mean that we wouldn't have children until we were sealed in the temple. We were blessed with six children. My wife comes from strong loyal Mormon stock going back to when the saints crossed the plains to get to Utah. My parents were the first to join the Church and my father is no longer a member. Only one of my siblings remains active. I have served in many different capacities, including Bishopric, Elder's Quorum President, Sunday School and Primary. I was always considered by my adult peers to be close to the Lord and a true and faithful servant. I kept the commandments, had a temple recommend and attended regularly performing the saving ordinances for my direct ancestors. I really hoped that they would accept the work we performed on their behalf and there were times when I felt as though my ancestors were there with us in the temple. I bought into the whole myth of eternal families as structured by the LDS Church. There were a few periods of moderate inactivity during the first 20 years of marriage where I just didn't feel like participating. The wards we attended, due to relocating because of career, were less than appealing to me in terms of friendliness and feeling welcomed. Despite the emotional connection to these wards, I participated on Sunday by attending with my wife and children. Something just didn't feel right, although I could never really put my finger on it.
There were times when I felt offended by what members would say or how they'd act, but I never let it result in my inactivity or leaving the Church. Sins I had committed were cleared by proper priesthood authority and I was striving for perfection and lived the commandments and honored the covenants I had made with Heavenly Father. I had considered myself worthy to participate in temple ordinances. So, why after being a true believing member for over 36 years would I choose to resign and risk my relationship with family and friends? Why would I risk my eternal salvation? Why would I lose trust with the men I once highly respected and regarded as men of God? Why would I reject the Prophets, Seers and Revelators? Why would I sever my membership in the kingdom of God even though the fear of damnation hung over my head?
My first inkling that something wasn't right was when the temple endowment was altered to remove parts that were considered offensive, such as the death penalties, five points of fellowship and Satan instructing the sectarian minister. There have been numerous other changes made.
Joseph Smith had taught that:
"Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations.... He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them."- The Prophet Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208
Then beginning in January 2005, the First Presidency authorized the changes to the Washing and Anointing ordinance. In this ordinance, initiates were instructed to clothe themselves in the garment in the privacy of their locker, before being presented at the washing and anointing room. This means that they are now clothed throughout the initiatory. As before 2005, initiates wore a cloth shield open at the sides during the initiatory, but this is now worn over the garment. The 2005 revision eliminated the touching of the various body parts by the officiator. Post 2005, officiators pronounce the same blessings as before, but they do so while laying hands on the initiates head. Because officiators no longer wash or anoint other parts of the initiates body (which is covered by the garment), the shield is now closed at the sides.
I viewed these changes to the temple ordinances as straying from God's ordinances and breaking his everlasting covenants. It was no different to me than getting one word wrong when reciting the sacramental prayers and having to redo it. It was no different than not getting someone completely under the water during baptism and having to redo the ordinance because it wasn't done exactly as given by God.
Other things that I found disturbing was the lack of confidentiality among Bishops and Stake Leaders who heard in confidence things expressed to them in interviews by members and auxiliary leaders.
Conformity and lack of thinking is another concern I observed, particularly among the youth. My deacon aged son was not permitted to pass the sacrament because he once wore a blue shirt to Church. The Bishop told me it didn't make my son any less worthy, but that it was the uniform of the deacons. A missionary took his place. I guess his white shirt and tie were more pure and delightsome. The Church is more about appearance and perceptions than genuine love, trust and joy. It's all for show.
I turned to a website to learn about why mormon's leave the Church in hopes of learning why I felt the way I did. My eyes were opened as I learned of things that I had never heard of before.
Then I began to delve more into the foundational origins of the Church and discovered that there is much deception and fraud perpetuated by the current modern day Church. A few things that come to mind include but are not limited to:
1. When I was a missionary in Japan Tokyo North, I taught that Joseph Smith was visited by God and Jesus. I've since learned there are several contradictory Smith versions of the First Vision
2. Joseph Smith married and had sex with 11 women who were married to other men at the same time. He also married young teen girls, some as young as 14. These are documented on the church's own genealogy website. (enter Joseph Smith, 1805 birth)
3. The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price is a fake translation of common Egyptian funeral papyri dated centuries after the time of Abraham. The church hides this fact from the members and continues to claim that the book is of divine origin.
4. Modern science research does not support the claims made in the Book of Mormon. Why is there no Israelite DNA evidence of Lamanites? Why does the evidence lead back to Siberia? There are many other significant problems with the Book of Mormon.
5. Joseph Smith plagiarized the temple ceremony from Masonry just weeks after he became a Mason. He also taught that temple covenants and ordinances are eternal and unchangeable/unalterable. Why have they been changed multiple times and had parts completely removed?
6. The Black race was denied the priesthood until 1978. Brigham Young taught blacks should not receive the blessings of the priesthood nor his seed, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth.
7. The Kinderhoek Plates. Joseph Smith accepted these forged plates without question and even went so far as to "translate" a portion of the fake writing found on the plates. Later the perpetrators of the fraud confessed that the Kinderhook plates were modern forgeries created specifically for the purpose of entrapping Joseph Smith.
8. The testimony of the eight witnesses and three witnesses in the Book of Mormon claim to have seen the gold plates and the angel Moroni. But did they physically see or through spiritual eyes?
There is a LOT more to discover about the true historical origins of the Mormon Church. Members trust their feelings as evidence that the church is what it claims to be. However, feelings are simply unreliable when comes to testing the truth. Anyone knows they've had such feelings only to have them turned out completely wrong. Many get those feelings of "burning in the bosom" and other such warm fuzzy feelings or inspirational feelings when watching "Phantom of the Opera" or "Les Mis." Does this mean they are true?
Unknown to me at the time that I was a foyer couch member, my wife was starting to have her own concerns, especially with the indoctrination of young children in primary. I was always disgusted when parents would gleam from ear to ear as their child bore their testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that Gordon Hinckley is a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, that the Church is true and that their family loves them. Nearly all of the testimonies born by children under the age of 12 mirrored this statement. Sometimes parents would whisper it into the ears of very small children who would repeat back what they were told to say. The primary song Follow the Prophet indoctrinated the children into believing that the prophet would never lead people astray.
When I learned about the interview between Time Magazine and Gordon Hinckley obfuscating the doctrine that God was once a man, I was in disbelief that a prophet of God would lie to the world and lead people astray.
"Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follett discourse by the Prophet.
"Q: ... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
"Hinckley: I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it." (Time Magazine original transcript, Aug 4, 1997)
I found through continued internet research many other ways in which leaders past and present lie for the Lord.
I have a new testimony of truth. It is not based on falsehoods or deception. It is based on tangible evidence, based solidly on facts, not fiction or myth. There are revised, whitewashed, sanitized, sugarcoated teachings of the church we receive in meetings on Sunday and then there's the REAL history of the church found in the Journal of Discourses, historical documents, journals, church records, newspapers, etc. Based on the evidence of facts, historical research, and feelings, I now know that Church is not true, Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon is not the word of God. Gordon B. Hinckley, thank you for recommending that I face the facts of the matter. You are absolutely right, there is no middle ground. The church is nothing but a fraud!
My active sibling and mother believe that I have been deceived by the devil. I hoped that by sending her some of my concerns that she would be able to provide an honest answer. The only thing recommended was to pray and study the scriptures and I would once again find true happiness.
"I need to tell you that the articles you are sending to me, I do not like. They are controversial in nature, and I fear that you are falling under their spell. Most of them are taken out of context as well. I'm afraid that you are on the road to apostasy and I feel terrible about that because the sweet peace that scripture reading together as a family and having family prayers together is gone from your family. Try to remember the special experiences you have had with the holy ghost in the past, as well as the very special times you have shared with your family."
As my wife and I discovered the depth and breadth of the falsehoods and deceptions that the LDS church has foisted on us for over 36 years we ask ourselves how can the church lie to us when they tell us to be honest? Members will say we just need to have faith, to read the scriptures, to pray and that it can all be worked out. Faith cannot be sustained on falsehoods and deception. "Faith is not sufficient when all tangible evidence contradicts the divine nature of the church. Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction. Faith in fiction is a damnable false hope." - Thomas Edison. We understand sacrifice in the name of faith. My wife and I have made many in the name of faith. But truth should never be laid upon the altar of sacrifice. If truth is sacrificed, what is left? We refuse to sacrifice truth. There has been a flood of evidence that has produced honest questions by members of the church. No one has ever received an honest answer.
We sent our resignation letter on November 4th, 2007. We did not resign because we committed serious sins, were offended or found it hard to keep the commandments and covenants. We leave the so-called true church because it is based on the myth of Joseph Smith and not of divine origin. We simply came to the very sad realization that the church is not what it claims to be, that its doctrine is false, and that the LDS church is not where we wish to be. Since we no longer believe, we are not concerned about cancellation of all Mormon blessings, baptisms, ordinations, promises, covenants, and our hope of exaltation in the Mormon celestial kingdom.
I was recently asked the following question by a returned missionary whom I served with: "So, if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is fake, what do we do?"
How do billions of people worldwide live happily, successfully and enjoy life? Yes, there are those, who by no choice of their own due to circumstance and environment are not happy or successful or enjoy life. But those who do, do not lean on religion for a crutch to justify when they are happy or sad. I believe that the attributes that Christ taught are not unique to Christian theology. There are many races with similar teachings and thoughts. These are simply universal. It's like the golden rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I'm not looking for ONE true faith, ONE true religion. God would not be the author of so much confusion. I rather prefer to live my life and that of my family outside of the dogma of religious views and thought. We will live by treating each other with respect and love. We will live with honesty and integrity. We will live with hard work and fun play. We will live by doing those things that bring us closer to each other. These are not difficult concepts are they? These are good old fashion common sense values, and no Church has the exclusive claim to them. We take the good that we learned from the LDS church and we incorporate it into our lives. The rest I leave behind.