An Active Mormon Bishop Writes about his Doubts

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  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>by confused Feb 2012</p>\n<p>I\'m new to this site, and I\'m hoping that I will get some insight to help me with a difficult situation.<br />\nI\'m a lifetime member, RM, married in temple. I\'ve always done my best to serve diligently.<br />\nI\'ve had intellectual doubts for many years, and I\'ve never felt that I could discuss them with anyone.</p>\n<p>Every attempt I\'ve made to discuss (my parents, spouse) has generally been met with fear on their part - like my honest searching was a \"threat\" to their status quo.</p>\n<p>I\'ve never wanted to be a threat. I just can\'t help the doubts in my mind.</p>\n<p>To make matters worse - I\'m the Bishop of my Ward and I\'m really struggling to reconcile my mind with what I am supposed to feel and believe. I don\'t feel like I have a safe place to turn. I feel that my honest and sincere inquires could result in social shunning.</p>\n<p>I\'m scared of the consequences of \"outing myself\" as a doubter and the corresponding social ramifications - the impact on my marriage, the impact on my kids.</p>\n<p>Many times I think that my life would be so much better if I didn\'t have this church in my life - if I wasn\'t born into it.</p>\n<p>But I am - and I am here. So I suffer in silence. I do my best to provide \"self-help christian advice\" as Bishop without publicly stating Mormon dogma (so I can at least feel consistent in my public declarations). I love helping people, and this calling gives me a forum for that - but my inner conflicts about what we \"claim to be\" are eating me up inside, and the time spent in the administrative components of this calling I feel are wasted and detract from other fulfilling wholesome pursuits. But I\'m scared to ask to be released because of having to reveal why. I am clean (as defined by Mormon temple standards) - I just don\'t know if I believe anymore.</p>\n<p>Has anyone else felt this way?</p>\n<p>An Active Mormon Bishop Writes about his Doubts<br />\nhappyhollyhomemaker<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nAll of us started with intellectual doubts. Very few of us here left because of some experience we had with people in the church. It would be a disservice to you to say that you should just throw your hands up &amp; walk away as though it\'s some decision to take lightly. It isn\'t. This is your life, and quite possibly, your eternity. Search, ponder &amp; pray. Do a lot of research. If you\'re like me, you\'ll stick to church literature. If you\'re more adventurous, you can explore critiques of church doctrine also.</p>\n<p>Ultimately, you will come to a place where you will have to choose. But try to take your time. Don\'t force it. It\'s a big decision, with a multitude of consequential considerations, the most important being your wife &amp; children. It will affect them, so it\'s worth it to take your time.<br />\nGood luck &amp; god bless!</p>\n<hr />\nbuddhdayochristian<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nOh yeah...ALL of here have felt that way. You are going to get a million responses...I wish you the best, and please take your time with your decisions and announcements. Just want to send you some love, because this is hard.<br />\nAn Active Mormon Bishop Writes about his Doubts\n<hr />\nMia<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nYou have come to the right place. You can be anonymous and say all of the things that are going through your head. There are people on this board who have been where you are. People will come on and tell you their experiences, help you along on the path you take.<br />\nLeaving can be very scary. You have a lot of things to work through.Keep coming back when ever you need to. You don\'t have to suffer in silence.\n<hr />\n<p>PapaKen<br />\nYeah, I felt that way when I was in a Bishopric<br />\nMy solution: I moved away, and thus \"forced\" them to release me. At our new house, I started saying \"no\" to callings.</p>\n<p>I know it takes courage to do that. But I can\'t tell you how liberating it is to take back your own life, and say \"no\" to people who are supposedly inspired.</p>\n<p>At least you can post here, and be sure that you\'re among friends. Good luck!</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Raptor Jesus<br />\nYou\'re not alone. And this is what the board is for.<br />\nYou\'re not the first. You won\'t be the last.</p>\n<p>A lot of people have gone through what you have.</p>\n<p>Welcome to the Board!</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Alex Degaston<br />\nYes I\'ve felt this way<br />\nWelcome to the club Bishop. There are many of us who\'ve been in the same predicament as you to some degree. I\'ve personally met 2 former full-time Mission Presidents through this website. We\'ve had at least a few dozen former Bishops wander through this website in the past. If you look or ask hard enough you\'ll find plenty who\'ve been in the same position as you. Feel free to email me if you\'d like and I\'ll put you in touch with plenty of people who can help you sort things out.</p>\n<p>And why should you out yourself? You don\'t owe the church anything. It\'s not your fault that Joseph Smith made up the whole fraudulent enchilada from day one. In a decade from now you will look back and say to yourself - why did I ever think I owed the church anything. Oh and before you kid or fool yourself into thinking that these leaders are going to discern that anything is different about you I\'d like to assure you that they won\'t discern a thing through any supernatural means.</p>\n<p>For example, have you ever heard of Richard R. Lyman? He was a LDS Apostle from 1918-1943. In 1925 he started secretly practicing polygamy with a \"soulmate\" woman he met and of course it was a sexual adulterous relationship. Well for 18 years he was never discerned by any of the other 14 in the Big 15. For years everyone sustained him as a Prophet, Seer, Revelator. In the meantime he even spent 3 years on the plum assignment as European Mission President where he got to tour Europe ad nauseum using tithing money. When he and his real wife got home she got made a Counselor to the General RS president and she became the General RS president herself in 1940. However in the very first Quorum meeting after his affair was discovered Lyman was ex\'ed by the Quorum of the Twelve. I share this story with newbies here like you who come in possibly wondering if the Brethren will ever discover them through some sort of discernment. Still think so?</p>\n<p>It\'s very tough to break free. Best wishes to you.</p>\n<hr />\nAlex Degaston<br />\nMy email<br />\nOops I forgot to write my email. Its on Yahoo and my Yahoo username is alex_degaston\n<hr />\nconfused<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nThank you all for your wonderful, kind and thoughtful responses. They are very well received. I am not surprised to find people who have felt exactly what I am feeling. It is nice to know I\'m not alone.\n<p>I feel a safe place here in this forum. Again - thank you.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Heresy<br />\nYou\'re obviously a smart, well educated person with such good<br />\nskills that they made you bishop. I don\'t doubt that your strong personal integrity will help you work through this.</p>\n<p>I do wonder why you would let your children go down the same road. Don\'t you think they\'ll have the same issues, come to the same conclusions, and be caught in the same trap? I think this is the most difficult part to deal with. One generation has to have the courage to get out and save the rest.</p>\n<p>It\'s hard to see sometimes from the inside, but people outside the church raise great kids without it. I know it\'s a lot more complicated than it seems, but leaving them in the dark about your doubts will just make it that much harder for them understand when you finally do reach your limit.</p>\n<hr />\nRaptor Jesus<br />\nStick around for a while and read.<br />\nYou\'ll laugh, cry, rage, and vomit.\n<p>This is a great place to shed your Mormonism and get help along the way.</p>\n<p>The exit stories are a really good place to start if you haven\'t already checked them out.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>imaworkinonit<br />\nJust a couple of thoughts<br />\nTake your time.</p>\n<p>Plant seeds of thought at home. I\'m not talking about challenging ANYTHING that\'s Mormon doctrine. But maybe talk about science, or logic, or question non-doctrinal stuff like meetings where you air people\'s dirty laundry to 12 or so people in the ward (PEC meeting). Or question the value of home teaching (probably just at home on that one).</p>\n<p>Maybe you can be that bishop that doesn\'t interrogate kids about touching themselves, or heap guilt upon people. Maybe you could be generous with aid for those who need it. (THAT might get you released, eh?)</p>\n<p>Anyway, you\'d be surprised how small things can help other people start to think. Validate people\'s rights to think. My last bishop did that for me. I don\'t think he was TRYING to help me leave.</p>\n<p>anyway, gotta go. Good luck</p>\n<hr />\n<p>his_dudeness<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nMormonism only got somewhere because it told the truth about Jesus being the healer and doctor for all. It was pride anjd ego that made Smith and Young committ fraud. Abandon the LDS and follow Jesus.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>motherwhoknows<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nWelcome to RFM!</p>\n<p>We have all had the rug pulled out from under us, and have been lonely under the veil of secrecy and fear. You will get beyond it. My main emotion was anger.</p>\n<p>Mormonism is a cult that holds families hostage. You are experiencing the fear that your family might be torn apart. Many posters on this board have lost a spouse, parents, and even their children, because of leaving the cult. If you read about cults in general, and you will become wiser to the Mormons\' manipulative techniques. Other than that, I never had to read any \"anti-Mormon\" literature. The church contradicts itself with its own lies and history.</p>\n<p>My husband led the way, and rescued me and our children from the Mormon church, 5 years ago. I was an extremely devout Mormon, from a GA family. My husband was open with me about the truths he was discovering, and he took a stand, telling me outright that it is a cult. This made me angry at him, at first, but he promised that he would not try to prevent my going to church and taking our children. He was resolute in NOT supporting the Mormons in any way--no tithing, no callings, and no meetings--not even to see me or the children perform or speak.</p>\n<p>Except for an occasional laugh at the Mormons\' weird ideas and behaviors, he stopped criticizing my religion. Instead, he concentrated on all the good things in life, such as our family. He gave us love and understanding (there wasn\'t much love in the wards we attended), and turned our dreary Saturday-the-day-we-get-ready-for-Sunday weekends into family fun-time. He cooked us breakfast before meeting, and would have fun activity planned for after meeting. Of course, the kids did not want to interrupt the fun and get dressed up and go sit for 3 hours. Neither did I.</p>\n<p>Another way you can get your wife and children to open their eyes (if they are reluctant to study more scriptures) is for you to become inactive--even for one month. Your family will witness the flurry of panic and desperation when your ward loses its Bishop, the harassment and love-bombing at your front door, the shunning of your wife and kids for having a husband and father who is \"less-active\" or an \"apostate.\" It was my ward\'s own nastiness to my husband that made me start to question whether or not Mormons were Christians. That led to investigating the truthfulness of the First Vision, and discovering that there had been several different versions, all told long after the church was organized. I read my own relatives\' diaries, who were neighbors of Joseph Smith\'s, and among the very first people to join. They became polygamists.</p>\n<p>Sometimes children seem are wiser than adults, and my children had not yet been thoroughly brainwashed. They knew enough non-Mormons to know that they can be good people. They were not racist. I had read them all the Christian Bible stories, and we eased into the Lutheran religion. It makes me sad that so many Mormons abandon God and Christ, when they find out they\'ve been lied to by their church.</p>\n<p>It is a parent\'s responsibility to tell children the truth! I can\'t understand how some Mormons can continue to cower in disbelief inside the Mormon church and raise their innocent children to be ruled by it.</p>\n<hr />\nfreeman<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nSorry to threadjack, but what your husband did for you and your family on Sundays has just inspired me. I\'ll start making breakfast in bed each Sunday morning, thanks :)\n<hr />\n<p>Brian M<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nI also felt like I had no one to turn to with my concerns, but only for the first couple months after I began having serious doubts. Then I found out two of my siblings were also thinking very similar to me. I then found out I had several friends who had recently come to new conclusions about Mormonism.</p>\n<p>My point is just because you feel like you have no one to turn doesn\'t mean you will never find someone that you can confide in.</p>\n<p>If you live in a highly Mormon populated area you should have no problem finding someone to meet face to face with.</p>\n<p>Some excellent podcasts that helped me feel much less lonely and gain a more realistic view of the diversity of ways to view mormonism are:</p>\n<p>mormonexpression.com and<br />\nmormonstories.org</p>\n<p>These podcasts can get very addicting, because the interviews and panel discussions can give you a great feeling of relief to hear people say exactly what you are feeling and offer advice that resonates with you. I always learn something interesting and helpful from the topics that are discussed.</p>\n<p>You\'ll be OK. If I were to relive my doubting days again knowing what I know now, I would relax more and take it one day at a time. I would make more time for activities that I enjoy, while still devoting enough time to address my questions and looking for answers.</p>\n<p>You must be extremely busy being a bishop, so if I were you I would take time to write out only your biggest worries and fears surrounding your situation. Then I would focus just on addressing just these issues from a place of compassion for yourself and others involved and try to see the whole confusing mess as a chance for meaningful growth.</p>\n<p>The psychologist James Pennebaker concluded that a \"growth narrative\" is the healthiest way that people can make sense of traumatic and confusing events in the long term. It sounds obvious, but I have found it to be a very helpful approach with dealing with my sudden anxiety I felt as my doubts became serious. It\'s so easy for me to slip into a \"This can only end bad\" style of explaining my life. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if anything was confusing in my post.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>enoughenoch19<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nHi Confused.....You have a lot on your plate to deal with. Start with small steps. The first one is to get out of the bishop job. Ask for NO job for the immediate future. You can honestly tell them that you have too much stress in your life right now without saying the nature of the stress. It is too hard to lead others in something you don\'t feel wholeheartedly. Next I suggest that you, your wife and family go to a counselor (not one affitilated with TSCC) and be honest about your doubts with your wife and family yet gentle so as not to shock them.<br />\nStart with your wife........she may have doubts too and is just waiting for you to say it first.<br />\nWork through it slowly but surely.....always be honest and it will work out. If you are not sure what you believe, have a therapist help you work it out. Not a church therapist.<br />\nYou asked if others fave felt this way - Probably 2/3s of the people on this board have. Granted many have felt that way as a ward person and not a bishop, but remember that before you were a bishop, you were a ward person too. Give yourself credit for the jobs you have done well, and now give yourself a break and work on your mental and spiritual wellness. Best of Luck!</p>\n<hr />\n<p>motherwhoknows<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nWTG! Sunday breakfast is a simple thing, but it got me thinking about life and love and real family. It was tough for the kids and I to leave that positive happy atmosphere, and to subject ourselves to the negative and and boring meetings and classes. At church, we were never together as a family, anyway, as I was on the stand as organist, my husband was in Priesthood and SS, I was in RS and youth SS, and the kids were in separate Primary classes. The church\'s skewed perspective of life in general contradicted my own experiences and instincts--and only then did I start looking for the truth.</p>\n<p>Here\'s a tip: have your wife read the Primary manual!</p>\n<hr />\nhonestone<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nYour post really made me feel sorry for you. You sound like a great person who really does many things a Christian would and should do regarding helping people. But it\'s a fact you are not helping yourself by this inner turmoil. IF I were you I\'d try to talk to a counselor and get ALL your feelings out. Non LDS of course.\n<p>I would start with examining a few questions you have with your wife. Ease into mentioning a few things to your kids...I assume they are not too young. Eventually, I would ask to be relieved of the Bishop\'s job. I would let your family do as they wish regarding attendance but I would take some time off. And I would insist that you and your family do more together.</p>\n<p>Once you have had a bit of time to de-stress then re-evaluate if you want to investigate other churches. Go by yourself at first if wife is not ready to do this, but attend special things only at the LDS church....ease out. Then make a plan to continue going to a different church (if you believe) or just do family things on Sun. Spouses need to know-and deserve to know- when you are unhappy. But at times a person is so good at faking it that the spouse is not aware at all. So it is time to let your spouse know.</p>\n<p>And who cares about the shunning that will happen??? When it does it just confirms that you did the right thing. Those people are not good friends and if it is family who shuns you then just how much LOVE do they have for you??? Those people have been taught to only associate with Mormons and they want to see you continue to follow the rules and that is all. If you are ready to ditch the rules, then let them be the fools. Love should be unconditional and in Mormonism that is nearly impossible due to brainwashing.</p>\n<p>You didn\'t say if any of the people who attend where you are bishop are having doubts and coming to you with doubts. Would be interested in knowing if this is causing your doubts to rise to the surface where you KNOW it is time to do something. I can not see how any person serving as Bishop can do that job and not be a believer. Please don\'t continue on and pretend to be something you are not. Best wishes. Hope your family follows you out.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Mia<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nYou don\'t have to answer if you don\'t want to, but I can\'t help but wonder.<br />\nBesides some of the nagging doubts you\'ve had for a while, was there something that happened or that you came across that tipped the scales for you?</p>\n<p>For me I was on the internet trying to figure out how to stay mormon when I felt like I was being mistreated by leadership. I listened to John Dehlin\'s podcast. I couldn\'t go back after that.</p>\n<hr />\npamarnold<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nAnother recommendation that I would suggest to you is to make friends with nevermo\'s or exmos who are in your area. It will be great to have a friend when all of your LDS friends abandon you for even questioning your beliefs. It is a lonely road when you do it in a hurry and have no support system. A good personal counselor would be a good idea. Especially someone who specializes in brain altering teachings. I have a member friend that told me today that the LDS church has so many similar teachings to mainstream Christianity. No it doesn\'t. But I can\'t tell her that because she is not willing to really hear what I have to say.\n<hr />\nconfused<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nNo problem at all. There wasn\'t a defining event but rather a slow and gradual process.\n<p>The weight of my administrative responsibilities have significantly increased the \"cost\" of my active participation in the church. Before I was a Bishop I still had the doubts, fears, etc. However, since I\'ve been a Bishop, the tremendous burden on my time and emotions of this calling has brought to the surface, in a real way, the doubts I have.</p>\n<p>I can\'t keep from feeling, constantly, \"if this stuff isn\'t even true then why I am subjecting myself to the stresses associated with this calling\". Yet I am burdened by the guilt of not feeling like I am \"magnifying\" my calling. I am constantly having to account to the Stake President about low sacrament attendance, home teaching, tithing contributions. It feels so corporate.</p>\n<p>In response to the constant pressure I\'ve felt in this calling I have spent a lot of time over the last couple years reading and studying other sources, outside of the approved materials of the church. This has done nothing but solidify my intellectual doubts. I have massive problems with JS\'s sexual history, with the circumstances surrounding the abolishment of polygamy (Reed Smooth Senate confirmations) and the mess of the civil rights movement in the 60s (John Birch society). I hate the way the church controls information and opinion (BKP), and how anyone with a brain, but a sincere heart, doesn\'t have a open forum in the church to discuss sincere matters of questioning and doubt without being labelled an \"apostate\".</p>\n<p>Also, as a Bishop I have an extremely hard time ministering in the conventional \"church man\" way. I do not believe that laying on additional guilt on people is a good method of real change. I think that the way that the church deals with pornography is ineffective (with all our massive guilt inducing methods). So I don\'t do it. I disagree with our position on homosexuality. I am very uneasy with how we guilt people into paying tithing (despite the church becoming tremendously wealthy). I have a real hard time seeing the church cut back certain programs (paid cleaners for example) and placing the burden on the members (while the church\'s balance sheet starts to resemble Google\'s, if not more).</p>\n<p>I\'ve sent people off with \"comforting encouragement\" in circumstances where others Bishop\'s may have levied severe sanctions (in fact where I know other Bishop\'s would have ex-communicated). I have been questioned by Stake officials because of my leniency. This executioner mentality has made me constantly wonder whether this church is really just a social control mechanism and not \"Christ\'s true church\". If Jesus were on the earth I don\'t believe that he would run the church the same way.</p>\n<p>I have tremendous difficulty with our claims that we are the \"only true and living church\". I cannot accept that some of the most Christlike people in my life (who are not Mormon yet have impacted me in a real way more than any Mormon) will not inherit a fullness of glory because they rejected our beliefs. If my friends who I love are not in heaven, frankly I don\'t want to be there either.</p>\n<p>I really know what I feel. Now the next step is just figuring out how to maintain a strong relationship with those I love and try to mitigate the inevitable fallout.</p>\n<hr />\nRPackham<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nDear Bishop, I hope that it helps you to know that there have been a lot - a LOT - of bishops who left the church while bishop. I know many of them personally. I\'m sure they will not mind if I name a few: Simon Southerton (author of \"Losing A Lost Tribe\", about the DNA problem), Bill Gardiner (now a practicing psychiatric counselor), Bob McCue (excellent website on emotional problems of Mormonism), Dennis Farley (attorney, author of \"Portals of the Night\"), ... and I could name even more.\n<p>Of course it will not be easy.</p>\n<p>I can understand one reason why you would want to remain in your calling: you are not only helping people, but by being a more liberal, forgiving, and loving authority you are actually being what bishops should be, and lessening somewhat the damage that Mormonism causes in their lives.</p>\n<p>Best wishes to you!</p>\n<hr />\nnewme<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nI second this advice. Also, start thinking of ways you will \"fill the void\" that the church will leave in your life. For someone whose life revolves around church activity, just think about all the free time you will have to pursue your true passions as you leave the church behind. You are re-gaining your life and will be free to think and explore your dreams. Even though the journey will be hard, let that excitement motivate you. Good luck!\n<hr />\nronas<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nHi confused.\n<p>I feel for you. I was Elders Quorum President when I \"came out\" as a non believer to my wife this summer. Then subsequently to the bishop, etc.</p>\n<p>One of many reasons I came out is that I was getting a lot of comments from a lot of sources about me being a future bishop in the ward. It was hard enough being EQP. Everyone thought I was the best EQP ever because I used my management experience to get our HT percentages up from 60% to 90%. But all I did was social calls and use a few management techniques to get people to actually do what they said they would do.</p>\n<p>I thought a lot about whether I could be a bishop. Ultimately I decided that I could not. I decided I couldn\'t spend that amount of time doing something I didn\'t believe in. I decided I couldn\'t live a life at that level of hypocrisy. I decided I couldn\'t counsel people to solve there problems by trusting in a God I didn\'t believe was there. Also, I grew up in a home where my dad was always a bishop, a stake president, a high council member, etc. who never had time for his kids or wife - he sacrificed his relationships with his immediate family for the church and I wasn\'t willing to do the same.</p>\n<p>I would suggest that at a minimum you should to go to your stake president and tell him you don\'t feel you can continue to serve as a bishop because you are struggling with your personal testimony. If you want you can say that you still have a testimony but that it just isn\'t strong enough to continue on in that capacity and that you need some time to work on it.</p>\n<p>It has been a difficult road since I \"came out\", but I\'m glad I did it. The relationship with my wife has been extremely difficult. If I had it to do again, I\'d make the same choice again. Although it has been very difficult for my wife I have asked her multiple times if I made the right choice telling her - each time she has responded that even thought it has been very difficult she is glad that she has the truth.</p>\n<p>I personally am in a spot where I am extremely isolated in my beliefs. Literally everyone I am close to in my life is a true believer. So if you want someone to talk to on a personal level, I\'m looking for someone to talk to at least as much as you are: <a href=\"mailto:ronas@mail.com\">ronas@mail.com</a> - I live in Pleasant Grove, UT. I am EXTREMELY discreet (e.g. a member of our ward who is in a pretty high calling confided to me when I was EQP that he wasn\'t sure if he believes and I have told no one.)</p>\n<hr />\n<p>A ANON<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nYou may want to talk to a non-Mormon mental health counselor. Be honest. Let the counselor know how much this is impacting your life and well-being. Let your wife know the kind of stress you are under without being too specific about church problems (for now).</p>\n<p>You may get \"professional permission\" to alter your life. All you have to say to your church leaders is that you need to be released for medical reasons that you are not comfortable sharing. This is not a lie. Mental health is as important as physical health, and you ARE acting with a Doctor\'s recommendation.</p>\n<p>Let you wife and family know more as time goes on -- and -- do everything possible in the meantime to be the best husband and father that you can possibly be! Chances are they may already sense that something is wrong anyway. If your life and theirs improve, you may be able to move in \"baby steps\" to a much better life.</p>\n<p>Find ways to reward them for just letting you, be you!</p>\n<p>God bless you.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Kendal Mint Cake<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nI wish you all the best. My husband and I were Peter Priesthood and Molly Mormon personified. We had always done our best to be model members.</p>\n<p>I had suppressed doubts about polygamy for years - I just couldn\'t accept that a loving God would subject His daughters to something they despised so much. I tried so hard to brainwash myself into believing it, and because I couldn\'t I thought I wasn\'t worthy.</p>\n<p>When we had children we realised we had a moral duty to investigate the church before we indoctrinated them.</p>\n<p>We only read church literature, and we prayed a lot, but we came to the conclusion that it is false.</p>\n<p>We have several generations of mormons in our family tree, but we are so glad we got out.</p>\n<p>We felt like hypocrites because we were supporting a church we did not believe in.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>onendagus<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nBishop Bloor quit sometime last year while still serving in England. His story is fascinating. Here is his letter to the ward:</p>\n<p><a href=\"http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/letter-to-ward-members-re-resignation-as-their-bishop/\" title=\"http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/letter-to-ward-members-re-resignation-as-their-bishop/\">http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/letter-to-ward-members-re-res...</a></p>\n<hr />\nmatt<br />\nWe are here for you. From all parts of the world.<br />\nThere\'s usually someone here, all time zones are covered, more or less.\n<hr />\nTauna<br />\nMy husband was BP when I quit the church<br />\nIt was devastating to him, but he recovered and our marriage is stronger than ever. That was 4 years ago.\n<p>If you \'come out\', expect A LOT of shunning. It won\'t be easy, but it will probably be the most heroic thing you have ever done.</p>\n<hr />\nMia<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nWhen someone like you comes on the board I feel like we should all be getting together for a coming out party. I wish we could!\n<p>The first time I came here was 2 days after reading mormon think. I cut my temple clothes into tiny little pieces and went online. It takes a lot of courage, especially when you have a calling with a lot of responsibility.</p>\n<p>I\'m 57, born in the church 5th generation. Resigned with my husband and two adult children on Thanksgiving day.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>SusieQ#1<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nHang in there. You\'re among friends who can empathize. Most of us have had the same concerns at one time or another.</p>\n<p>The best advice seems to be to take it very, very S L O W and give people time to adjust to your changes on a level they can handle.<br />\nPeople just don\'t do well with abrupt, big changes in their lives.</p>\n<p>You need a break! :-) You need time to decompress. Get released from the bishop position on a stress leave, for instance. Might get some medical support.</p>\n<p>I decided to keep it simple - only explain that I changed my mind about Mormonism. I was a convert with several decades of total immersion married to an RM who is still a believer (nearly 50 yrs this Aug.) but we make it work.</p>\n<p>Try to let go of the guilt. There is nothing to be guilty about. You are free to think and decide for yourself what you want in your life.<br />\nYour changes may have some severe results that you won\'t be able to control.</p>\n<p>You\'re looking at leaving your whole support system: your heritage, family, social support, life style from what you eat, and drink, how you use your time, who you associate with, what movies you see, and how you dress, what you think, what you believe, and on and on. It will be seen by the believers, most likely as a huge, betrayal, and a rejection. Interesting those that leave feel the same way.</p>\n<p>It seems to work best when your focus is the unconditional love of your wife and children. Spending more and more time with them, giving them everything of yourself that you can in an honest fashion.</p>\n<p>Best wishes, keep connected, there is always someone here to talk to you.</p>\n<hr />\nconcerned_parent<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nWow that is a lot to take on without having anyone to talk to. I think you should privately seek out a counselor who is not LDS. Have the opportunity to unburden your soul in a confidential environment. Just talking about it will help you feel not so crazy.\n<p>Also there are several boards for people who either slightly believe, don\'t believe but participate, or are stuck in the church due to family obligations. NEWORDERMORMON comes to mind. They might help you find some comfort in your current aloneness.<br />\n<a href=\"http://forum.newordermormon.org/\" title=\"http://forum.newordermormon.org/\">http://forum.newordermormon.org/</a></p>\n<p>I would take things slow and easy. Take some time to find your way out.</p>\n<p>Hopefully you are close to the end of 4 years as a bishop because usually they release you. If not just take some time and get some help until you can find a path out of this double bind the church has placed you in.</p>\n<hr />\nenoughenoch19<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\nHi Bishop,<br />\nOh how I wish that a certain ward in Holiday had a bishop like you rather than the one who ripped me off for over $200,000. That\'s another story but I did tell his SP and nothing happened. I told the higher ups and nothing happened. This ass is still a bishop even though I consider him no better than Satan.<br />\nAnyway, this particular part of your statements below is what I am focused on:<br />\nNo problem at all. There wasn\'t a defining event but rather a slow and gradual process.\n<p>The weight of my administrative responsibilities have significantly increased the \"cost\" of my active participation in the church. Before I was a Bishop I still had the doubts, fears, etc. However, since I\'ve been a Bishop, the tremendous burden on my time and emotions of this calling has brought to the surface, in a real way, the doubts I have.</p>\n<p>I can\'t keep from feeling, constantly, \"if this stuff isn\'t even true then why I am subjecting myself to the stresses associated with this calling\". Yet I am burdened by the guilt of not feeling like I am \"magnifying\" my calling. I am constantly having to account to the Stake President about low sacrament attendance, home teaching, tithing contributions. It feels so corporate.</p>\n<p>In response to the constant pressure I\'ve felt in this calling I have spent a lot of time over the last couple years reading and studying other sources, outside of the approved materials of the church. This has done nothing but solidify my intellectual doubts. I have massive problems with JS\'s sexual history, with the circumstances surrounding the abolishment of polygamy (Reed Smooth Senate confirmations) and the mess of the civil rights movement in the 60s (John Birch society). I hate the way the church controls information and opinion (BKP), and how anyone with a brain, but a sincere heart, doesn\'t have a open forum in the church to discuss sincere matters of questioning and doubt without being labelled an \"apostate\".</p>\n<p>Also, as a Bishop I have an extremely hard time ministering in the conventional \"church man\" way. I do not believe that laying on additional guilt on people is a good method of real change. I think that the way that the church deals with pornography is ineffective (with all our massive guilt inducing methods). So I don\'t do it. I disagree with our position on homosexuality. I am very uneasy with how we guilt people into paying tithing (despite the church becoming tremendously wealthy). I have a real hard time seeing the church cut back certain programs (paid cleaners for example) and placing the burden on the members (while the church\'s balance sheet starts to resemble Google\'s, if not more).</p>\n<p>I\'ve sent people off with \"comforting encouragement\" in circumstances where others Bishop\'s may have levied severe sanctions (in fact where I know other Bishop\'s would have ex-communicated). I have been questioned by Stake officials because of my leniency. This executioner mentality has made me constantly wonder whether this church is really just a social control mechanism and not \"Christ\'s true church\". If Jesus were on the earth I don\'t believe that he would run the church the same way.</p>\n<p>I have tremendous difficulty with our claims that we are the \"only true and living church\". I cannot accept that some of the most Christlike people in my life (who are not Mormon yet have impacted me in a real way more than any Mormon) will not inherit a fullness of glory because they rejected our beliefs. If my friends who I love are not in heaven, frankly I don\'t want to be there either.</p>\n<p>I really know what I feel. Now the next step is just figuring out how to maintain a strong relationship with those I love and try to mitigate the inevitable fallout.</p>\n<p>You sound like a wonderful person and if TSCC wasn\'t so screwed up, you\'d be a perfect bishop. You are really too nice to follow the bishop rules b/c you treat people like people, not like subjects to be tormented with guilt and taxed. You follow the golden rule.<br />\nWhat you have written above is well articulated, not angry sounding etc. I think you should basically block and copy it (maybe make a few changes here and there) and then give that letter to the SP. You deserve so much better than TSCC can ever offer you or your family. You are genuine, the real deal. That ward will be losing more than they will ever know or care to know.<br />\nBTW - please don\'t think you really have no one to turn to. I think many people on this board are concerned for you and care about you. Please hang in there.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Can\'t Resist<br />\nRe: No One To Turn To<br />\ni wish you had been my bishop. it\'s terribly lonely...</p>\n<hr />\ntoto<br />\nYes, I personally experienced what you are going through now.<br />\nExcept instead of Bishop, I was RS President, Primary President, and when I left, YW President.\n<p>In my YW Pres calling, as well as in all my callings (was RS Pres when I started feeling doubts), I taught according to the doctrines that I still believed at that time that the Church held true: belief in Christ and his atonement. I told my bishop about my doubts but also was honest about making sure I taught the YW in my care according to our mutual beliefs. The main issues that bugged me: The YWs\' parents didn\'t know I didn\'t believe in the main Mormon doctrine and they trusted me to teach according to those beliefs. I felt like I wasn\'t being honest or teaching with integrity because of that inner feeling of yikes.</p>\n<p>My last few lessons were attended by a member of the Bishopric to make sure I didn\'t stray. One of my counselors tried to force me to bear a testimony in front of the girls but I couldn\'t.</p>\n<p>They removed me quietly from my position, I didn\'t share any of my lack of beliefs with the YW or anyone other than my counselors, and when I left after that transition day, I never looked back.</p>\n<p>But yes. They shunned me and my then-husband and our kids (1 and 3 year olds). The babysitters who used to come from the YW pool wouldn\'t answer phone calls or come over anymore. But I found this site online (I left the same year RfM began) and a transition group at an Episcopal church in Sandy, Utah. Funny thing: Another person in that group was in the same mission field with me and his wife was one of my then-husband\'s close friends in high school. We instantly had a group of four to hang together and figure out our next course of action.</p>\n<p>There\'s no easy way about any of this. I took the road I felt I needed to pursue and have been human for the past 17 years. Human feels nice. But it\'s also hard. You know that \"darkness\" that people talk about that apostates feel when they leave the church? Yeah. I felt that. But what they don\'t tell is that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to pass through that hard time to get there.</p>\n<p>We\'re here for you. And I do understand. Fortunately, the friends (who were my real friends) in the church are still my friends without question, or love bombing to get me back. I wouldn\'t trade getting out for staying in any day. But it\'s not easy.</p>\n<p>Again, we\'re here for you.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>summer<br />\nWelcome!<br />\nHello, confused. Hopefully sometime in the future we can get you to adopt a more hopeful board moniker. :-) I\'m your friendly neighborhood nevermo sympathizer.</p>\n<p>It sounds like you really have magnified your calling as bishop...just not in ways that would necessarily please the church. My sense is that you probably were called in part because you have perfectionist tendencies. So one thing to consider might be doing the parts of the job you like (counseling, helping, etc.) really well, and doing the administrative hoo-hah really badly. Think about it...what are they going to do, fire you? ;-)</p>\n<p>As for your growing disbelief...take your time. Proceed slowly. Sow seeds among your loved ones. The one piece of solid advice I can give you... really, truly, fully put your family first. Put them well ahead of the church. If you do this, you will never regret it. People at the end of their lives don\'t remember all the happy hours that they spent at church. They remember all the happy hours they spent sharing love with family and friends. Motherwhoknows (above) has some good ideas, and I\'m sure that you can think of many more. Get your priorities straight, and the rest will follow.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>cludgie<br />\nRelax and stay tuned<br />\nEvery individual\'s story on here is going to be different, and some people have had their \"apostasy\" from the Mormon church work out for them, and others have not. All you can do is ease into these new shoes over a period of time. Some people bail out all at once, and others haven\'t left yet. But some have challenges even larger than yours, and some have almost none when it comes to leaving Mormonism.</p>\n<p>There are other ex-bishops here, and maybe you could get E-mail contact with them for ideas. One ex-Mo former mission president (moniker is SLDrone) pops in now and again. There are one or two former stake presidents, one a guy from the UK (moniker is Anointed One), and a whole bunch of us who were former everything else, like Relief Society presidents, high council members, EQ presidents, etc.</p>\n<p>If the RfM board is too vulgar for you (we\'re a pissed off lot), you could hang out at PostMormon.org or one of the more gentle sites. But if you want a baptism by fire, this is the right site; no foolin\' around here.</p>\n<p>Watch and learn. If leaving Mormonism is worth doing (note: it is), then it\'s worth waiting for, too--waiting for the right time, being all prepared, etc.</p>\n<p>(As for your moniker [confused], I think someone else might have claimed it already--I\'m not sure. Besides, we\'re all confused.)</p>\n<p>\"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org\"</p>\n', created = 1490772300, expire = 1490858700, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:84b7d3b3a8e0b0fccedc7c0fa45b74ed' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

by confused Feb 2012

I'm new to this site, and I'm hoping that I will get some insight to help me with a difficult situation.
I'm a lifetime member, RM, married in temple. I've always done my best to serve diligently.
I've had intellectual doubts for many years, and I've never felt that I could discuss them with anyone.

Every attempt I've made to discuss (my parents, spouse) has generally been met with fear on their part - like my honest searching was a "threat" to their status quo.

I've never wanted to be a threat. I just can't help the doubts in my mind.

To make matters worse - I'm the Bishop of my Ward and I'm really struggling to reconcile my mind with what I am supposed to feel and believe. I don't feel like I have a safe place to turn. I feel that my honest and sincere inquires could result in social shunning.

I'm scared of the consequences of "outing myself" as a doubter and the corresponding social ramifications - the impact on my marriage, the impact on my kids.

Many times I think that my life would be so much better if I didn't have this church in my life - if I wasn't born into it.

But I am - and I am here. So I suffer in silence. I do my best to provide "self-help christian advice" as Bishop without publicly stating Mormon dogma (so I can at least feel consistent in my public declarations). I love helping people, and this calling gives me a forum for that - but my inner conflicts about what we "claim to be" are eating me up inside, and the time spent in the administrative components of this calling I feel are wasted and detract from other fulfilling wholesome pursuits. But I'm scared to ask to be released because of having to reveal why. I am clean (as defined by Mormon temple standards) - I just don't know if I believe anymore.

Has anyone else felt this way?

An Active Mormon Bishop Writes about his Doubts
happyhollyhomemaker
Re: No One To Turn To
All of us started with intellectual doubts. Very few of us here left because of some experience we had with people in the church. It would be a disservice to you to say that you should just throw your hands up & walk away as though it's some decision to take lightly. It isn't. This is your life, and quite possibly, your eternity. Search, ponder & pray. Do a lot of research. If you're like me, you'll stick to church literature. If you're more adventurous, you can explore critiques of church doctrine also.

Ultimately, you will come to a place where you will have to choose. But try to take your time. Don't force it. It's a big decision, with a multitude of consequential considerations, the most important being your wife & children. It will affect them, so it's worth it to take your time.
Good luck & god bless!


buddhdayochristian
Re: No One To Turn To
Oh yeah...ALL of here have felt that way. You are going to get a million responses...I wish you the best, and please take your time with your decisions and announcements. Just want to send you some love, because this is hard.
An Active Mormon Bishop Writes about his Doubts
Mia
Re: No One To Turn To
You have come to the right place. You can be anonymous and say all of the things that are going through your head. There are people on this board who have been where you are. People will come on and tell you their experiences, help you along on the path you take.
Leaving can be very scary. You have a lot of things to work through.Keep coming back when ever you need to. You don't have to suffer in silence.

PapaKen
Yeah, I felt that way when I was in a Bishopric
My solution: I moved away, and thus "forced" them to release me. At our new house, I started saying "no" to callings.

I know it takes courage to do that. But I can't tell you how liberating it is to take back your own life, and say "no" to people who are supposedly inspired.

At least you can post here, and be sure that you're among friends. Good luck!


Raptor Jesus
You're not alone. And this is what the board is for.
You're not the first. You won't be the last.

A lot of people have gone through what you have.

Welcome to the Board!


Alex Degaston
Yes I've felt this way
Welcome to the club Bishop. There are many of us who've been in the same predicament as you to some degree. I've personally met 2 former full-time Mission Presidents through this website. We've had at least a few dozen former Bishops wander through this website in the past. If you look or ask hard enough you'll find plenty who've been in the same position as you. Feel free to email me if you'd like and I'll put you in touch with plenty of people who can help you sort things out.

And why should you out yourself? You don't owe the church anything. It's not your fault that Joseph Smith made up the whole fraudulent enchilada from day one. In a decade from now you will look back and say to yourself - why did I ever think I owed the church anything. Oh and before you kid or fool yourself into thinking that these leaders are going to discern that anything is different about you I'd like to assure you that they won't discern a thing through any supernatural means.

For example, have you ever heard of Richard R. Lyman? He was a LDS Apostle from 1918-1943. In 1925 he started secretly practicing polygamy with a "soulmate" woman he met and of course it was a sexual adulterous relationship. Well for 18 years he was never discerned by any of the other 14 in the Big 15. For years everyone sustained him as a Prophet, Seer, Revelator. In the meantime he even spent 3 years on the plum assignment as European Mission President where he got to tour Europe ad nauseum using tithing money. When he and his real wife got home she got made a Counselor to the General RS president and she became the General RS president herself in 1940. However in the very first Quorum meeting after his affair was discovered Lyman was ex'ed by the Quorum of the Twelve. I share this story with newbies here like you who come in possibly wondering if the Brethren will ever discover them through some sort of discernment. Still think so?

It's very tough to break free. Best wishes to you.


Alex Degaston
My email
Oops I forgot to write my email. Its on Yahoo and my Yahoo username is alex_degaston
confused
Re: No One To Turn To
Thank you all for your wonderful, kind and thoughtful responses. They are very well received. I am not surprised to find people who have felt exactly what I am feeling. It is nice to know I'm not alone.

I feel a safe place here in this forum. Again - thank you.


Heresy
You're obviously a smart, well educated person with such good
skills that they made you bishop. I don't doubt that your strong personal integrity will help you work through this.

I do wonder why you would let your children go down the same road. Don't you think they'll have the same issues, come to the same conclusions, and be caught in the same trap? I think this is the most difficult part to deal with. One generation has to have the courage to get out and save the rest.

It's hard to see sometimes from the inside, but people outside the church raise great kids without it. I know it's a lot more complicated than it seems, but leaving them in the dark about your doubts will just make it that much harder for them understand when you finally do reach your limit.


Raptor Jesus
Stick around for a while and read.
You'll laugh, cry, rage, and vomit.

This is a great place to shed your Mormonism and get help along the way.

The exit stories are a really good place to start if you haven't already checked them out.


imaworkinonit
Just a couple of thoughts
Take your time.

Plant seeds of thought at home. I'm not talking about challenging ANYTHING that's Mormon doctrine. But maybe talk about science, or logic, or question non-doctrinal stuff like meetings where you air people's dirty laundry to 12 or so people in the ward (PEC meeting). Or question the value of home teaching (probably just at home on that one).

Maybe you can be that bishop that doesn't interrogate kids about touching themselves, or heap guilt upon people. Maybe you could be generous with aid for those who need it. (THAT might get you released, eh?)

Anyway, you'd be surprised how small things can help other people start to think. Validate people's rights to think. My last bishop did that for me. I don't think he was TRYING to help me leave.

anyway, gotta go. Good luck


his_dudeness
Re: No One To Turn To
Mormonism only got somewhere because it told the truth about Jesus being the healer and doctor for all. It was pride anjd ego that made Smith and Young committ fraud. Abandon the LDS and follow Jesus.


motherwhoknows
Re: No One To Turn To
Welcome to RFM!

We have all had the rug pulled out from under us, and have been lonely under the veil of secrecy and fear. You will get beyond it. My main emotion was anger.

Mormonism is a cult that holds families hostage. You are experiencing the fear that your family might be torn apart. Many posters on this board have lost a spouse, parents, and even their children, because of leaving the cult. If you read about cults in general, and you will become wiser to the Mormons' manipulative techniques. Other than that, I never had to read any "anti-Mormon" literature. The church contradicts itself with its own lies and history.

My husband led the way, and rescued me and our children from the Mormon church, 5 years ago. I was an extremely devout Mormon, from a GA family. My husband was open with me about the truths he was discovering, and he took a stand, telling me outright that it is a cult. This made me angry at him, at first, but he promised that he would not try to prevent my going to church and taking our children. He was resolute in NOT supporting the Mormons in any way--no tithing, no callings, and no meetings--not even to see me or the children perform or speak.

Except for an occasional laugh at the Mormons' weird ideas and behaviors, he stopped criticizing my religion. Instead, he concentrated on all the good things in life, such as our family. He gave us love and understanding (there wasn't much love in the wards we attended), and turned our dreary Saturday-the-day-we-get-ready-for-Sunday weekends into family fun-time. He cooked us breakfast before meeting, and would have fun activity planned for after meeting. Of course, the kids did not want to interrupt the fun and get dressed up and go sit for 3 hours. Neither did I.

Another way you can get your wife and children to open their eyes (if they are reluctant to study more scriptures) is for you to become inactive--even for one month. Your family will witness the flurry of panic and desperation when your ward loses its Bishop, the harassment and love-bombing at your front door, the shunning of your wife and kids for having a husband and father who is "less-active" or an "apostate." It was my ward's own nastiness to my husband that made me start to question whether or not Mormons were Christians. That led to investigating the truthfulness of the First Vision, and discovering that there had been several different versions, all told long after the church was organized. I read my own relatives' diaries, who were neighbors of Joseph Smith's, and among the very first people to join. They became polygamists.

Sometimes children seem are wiser than adults, and my children had not yet been thoroughly brainwashed. They knew enough non-Mormons to know that they can be good people. They were not racist. I had read them all the Christian Bible stories, and we eased into the Lutheran religion. It makes me sad that so many Mormons abandon God and Christ, when they find out they've been lied to by their church.

It is a parent's responsibility to tell children the truth! I can't understand how some Mormons can continue to cower in disbelief inside the Mormon church and raise their innocent children to be ruled by it.


freeman
Re: No One To Turn To
Sorry to threadjack, but what your husband did for you and your family on Sundays has just inspired me. I'll start making breakfast in bed each Sunday morning, thanks :)

Brian M
Re: No One To Turn To
I also felt like I had no one to turn to with my concerns, but only for the first couple months after I began having serious doubts. Then I found out two of my siblings were also thinking very similar to me. I then found out I had several friends who had recently come to new conclusions about Mormonism.

My point is just because you feel like you have no one to turn doesn't mean you will never find someone that you can confide in.

If you live in a highly Mormon populated area you should have no problem finding someone to meet face to face with.

Some excellent podcasts that helped me feel much less lonely and gain a more realistic view of the diversity of ways to view mormonism are:

mormonexpression.com and
mormonstories.org

These podcasts can get very addicting, because the interviews and panel discussions can give you a great feeling of relief to hear people say exactly what you are feeling and offer advice that resonates with you. I always learn something interesting and helpful from the topics that are discussed.

You'll be OK. If I were to relive my doubting days again knowing what I know now, I would relax more and take it one day at a time. I would make more time for activities that I enjoy, while still devoting enough time to address my questions and looking for answers.

You must be extremely busy being a bishop, so if I were you I would take time to write out only your biggest worries and fears surrounding your situation. Then I would focus just on addressing just these issues from a place of compassion for yourself and others involved and try to see the whole confusing mess as a chance for meaningful growth.

The psychologist James Pennebaker concluded that a "growth narrative" is the healthiest way that people can make sense of traumatic and confusing events in the long term. It sounds obvious, but I have found it to be a very helpful approach with dealing with my sudden anxiety I felt as my doubts became serious. It's so easy for me to slip into a "This can only end bad" style of explaining my life. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if anything was confusing in my post.


enoughenoch19
Re: No One To Turn To
Hi Confused.....You have a lot on your plate to deal with. Start with small steps. The first one is to get out of the bishop job. Ask for NO job for the immediate future. You can honestly tell them that you have too much stress in your life right now without saying the nature of the stress. It is too hard to lead others in something you don't feel wholeheartedly. Next I suggest that you, your wife and family go to a counselor (not one affitilated with TSCC) and be honest about your doubts with your wife and family yet gentle so as not to shock them.
Start with your wife........she may have doubts too and is just waiting for you to say it first.
Work through it slowly but surely.....always be honest and it will work out. If you are not sure what you believe, have a therapist help you work it out. Not a church therapist.
You asked if others fave felt this way - Probably 2/3s of the people on this board have. Granted many have felt that way as a ward person and not a bishop, but remember that before you were a bishop, you were a ward person too. Give yourself credit for the jobs you have done well, and now give yourself a break and work on your mental and spiritual wellness. Best of Luck!


motherwhoknows
Re: No One To Turn To
WTG! Sunday breakfast is a simple thing, but it got me thinking about life and love and real family. It was tough for the kids and I to leave that positive happy atmosphere, and to subject ourselves to the negative and and boring meetings and classes. At church, we were never together as a family, anyway, as I was on the stand as organist, my husband was in Priesthood and SS, I was in RS and youth SS, and the kids were in separate Primary classes. The church's skewed perspective of life in general contradicted my own experiences and instincts--and only then did I start looking for the truth.

Here's a tip: have your wife read the Primary manual!


honestone
Re: No One To Turn To
Your post really made me feel sorry for you. You sound like a great person who really does many things a Christian would and should do regarding helping people. But it's a fact you are not helping yourself by this inner turmoil. IF I were you I'd try to talk to a counselor and get ALL your feelings out. Non LDS of course.

I would start with examining a few questions you have with your wife. Ease into mentioning a few things to your kids...I assume they are not too young. Eventually, I would ask to be relieved of the Bishop's job. I would let your family do as they wish regarding attendance but I would take some time off. And I would insist that you and your family do more together.

Once you have had a bit of time to de-stress then re-evaluate if you want to investigate other churches. Go by yourself at first if wife is not ready to do this, but attend special things only at the LDS church....ease out. Then make a plan to continue going to a different church (if you believe) or just do family things on Sun. Spouses need to know-and deserve to know- when you are unhappy. But at times a person is so good at faking it that the spouse is not aware at all. So it is time to let your spouse know.

And who cares about the shunning that will happen??? When it does it just confirms that you did the right thing. Those people are not good friends and if it is family who shuns you then just how much LOVE do they have for you??? Those people have been taught to only associate with Mormons and they want to see you continue to follow the rules and that is all. If you are ready to ditch the rules, then let them be the fools. Love should be unconditional and in Mormonism that is nearly impossible due to brainwashing.

You didn't say if any of the people who attend where you are bishop are having doubts and coming to you with doubts. Would be interested in knowing if this is causing your doubts to rise to the surface where you KNOW it is time to do something. I can not see how any person serving as Bishop can do that job and not be a believer. Please don't continue on and pretend to be something you are not. Best wishes. Hope your family follows you out.


Mia
Re: No One To Turn To
You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but I can't help but wonder.
Besides some of the nagging doubts you've had for a while, was there something that happened or that you came across that tipped the scales for you?

For me I was on the internet trying to figure out how to stay mormon when I felt like I was being mistreated by leadership. I listened to John Dehlin's podcast. I couldn't go back after that.


pamarnold
Re: No One To Turn To
Another recommendation that I would suggest to you is to make friends with nevermo's or exmos who are in your area. It will be great to have a friend when all of your LDS friends abandon you for even questioning your beliefs. It is a lonely road when you do it in a hurry and have no support system. A good personal counselor would be a good idea. Especially someone who specializes in brain altering teachings. I have a member friend that told me today that the LDS church has so many similar teachings to mainstream Christianity. No it doesn't. But I can't tell her that because she is not willing to really hear what I have to say.
confused
Re: No One To Turn To
No problem at all. There wasn't a defining event but rather a slow and gradual process.

The weight of my administrative responsibilities have significantly increased the "cost" of my active participation in the church. Before I was a Bishop I still had the doubts, fears, etc. However, since I've been a Bishop, the tremendous burden on my time and emotions of this calling has brought to the surface, in a real way, the doubts I have.

I can't keep from feeling, constantly, "if this stuff isn't even true then why I am subjecting myself to the stresses associated with this calling". Yet I am burdened by the guilt of not feeling like I am "magnifying" my calling. I am constantly having to account to the Stake President about low sacrament attendance, home teaching, tithing contributions. It feels so corporate.

In response to the constant pressure I've felt in this calling I have spent a lot of time over the last couple years reading and studying other sources, outside of the approved materials of the church. This has done nothing but solidify my intellectual doubts. I have massive problems with JS's sexual history, with the circumstances surrounding the abolishment of polygamy (Reed Smooth Senate confirmations) and the mess of the civil rights movement in the 60s (John Birch society). I hate the way the church controls information and opinion (BKP), and how anyone with a brain, but a sincere heart, doesn't have a open forum in the church to discuss sincere matters of questioning and doubt without being labelled an "apostate".

Also, as a Bishop I have an extremely hard time ministering in the conventional "church man" way. I do not believe that laying on additional guilt on people is a good method of real change. I think that the way that the church deals with pornography is ineffective (with all our massive guilt inducing methods). So I don't do it. I disagree with our position on homosexuality. I am very uneasy with how we guilt people into paying tithing (despite the church becoming tremendously wealthy). I have a real hard time seeing the church cut back certain programs (paid cleaners for example) and placing the burden on the members (while the church's balance sheet starts to resemble Google's, if not more).

I've sent people off with "comforting encouragement" in circumstances where others Bishop's may have levied severe sanctions (in fact where I know other Bishop's would have ex-communicated). I have been questioned by Stake officials because of my leniency. This executioner mentality has made me constantly wonder whether this church is really just a social control mechanism and not "Christ's true church". If Jesus were on the earth I don't believe that he would run the church the same way.

I have tremendous difficulty with our claims that we are the "only true and living church". I cannot accept that some of the most Christlike people in my life (who are not Mormon yet have impacted me in a real way more than any Mormon) will not inherit a fullness of glory because they rejected our beliefs. If my friends who I love are not in heaven, frankly I don't want to be there either.

I really know what I feel. Now the next step is just figuring out how to maintain a strong relationship with those I love and try to mitigate the inevitable fallout.


RPackham
Re: No One To Turn To
Dear Bishop, I hope that it helps you to know that there have been a lot - a LOT - of bishops who left the church while bishop. I know many of them personally. I'm sure they will not mind if I name a few: Simon Southerton (author of "Losing A Lost Tribe", about the DNA problem), Bill Gardiner (now a practicing psychiatric counselor), Bob McCue (excellent website on emotional problems of Mormonism), Dennis Farley (attorney, author of "Portals of the Night"), ... and I could name even more.

Of course it will not be easy.

I can understand one reason why you would want to remain in your calling: you are not only helping people, but by being a more liberal, forgiving, and loving authority you are actually being what bishops should be, and lessening somewhat the damage that Mormonism causes in their lives.

Best wishes to you!


newme
Re: No One To Turn To
I second this advice. Also, start thinking of ways you will "fill the void" that the church will leave in your life. For someone whose life revolves around church activity, just think about all the free time you will have to pursue your true passions as you leave the church behind. You are re-gaining your life and will be free to think and explore your dreams. Even though the journey will be hard, let that excitement motivate you. Good luck!
ronas
Re: No One To Turn To
Hi confused.

I feel for you. I was Elders Quorum President when I "came out" as a non believer to my wife this summer. Then subsequently to the bishop, etc.

One of many reasons I came out is that I was getting a lot of comments from a lot of sources about me being a future bishop in the ward. It was hard enough being EQP. Everyone thought I was the best EQP ever because I used my management experience to get our HT percentages up from 60% to 90%. But all I did was social calls and use a few management techniques to get people to actually do what they said they would do.

I thought a lot about whether I could be a bishop. Ultimately I decided that I could not. I decided I couldn't spend that amount of time doing something I didn't believe in. I decided I couldn't live a life at that level of hypocrisy. I decided I couldn't counsel people to solve there problems by trusting in a God I didn't believe was there. Also, I grew up in a home where my dad was always a bishop, a stake president, a high council member, etc. who never had time for his kids or wife - he sacrificed his relationships with his immediate family for the church and I wasn't willing to do the same.

I would suggest that at a minimum you should to go to your stake president and tell him you don't feel you can continue to serve as a bishop because you are struggling with your personal testimony. If you want you can say that you still have a testimony but that it just isn't strong enough to continue on in that capacity and that you need some time to work on it.

It has been a difficult road since I "came out", but I'm glad I did it. The relationship with my wife has been extremely difficult. If I had it to do again, I'd make the same choice again. Although it has been very difficult for my wife I have asked her multiple times if I made the right choice telling her - each time she has responded that even thought it has been very difficult she is glad that she has the truth.

I personally am in a spot where I am extremely isolated in my beliefs. Literally everyone I am close to in my life is a true believer. So if you want someone to talk to on a personal level, I'm looking for someone to talk to at least as much as you are: ronas@mail.com - I live in Pleasant Grove, UT. I am EXTREMELY discreet (e.g. a member of our ward who is in a pretty high calling confided to me when I was EQP that he wasn't sure if he believes and I have told no one.)


A ANON
Re: No One To Turn To
You may want to talk to a non-Mormon mental health counselor. Be honest. Let the counselor know how much this is impacting your life and well-being. Let your wife know the kind of stress you are under without being too specific about church problems (for now).

You may get "professional permission" to alter your life. All you have to say to your church leaders is that you need to be released for medical reasons that you are not comfortable sharing. This is not a lie. Mental health is as important as physical health, and you ARE acting with a Doctor's recommendation.

Let you wife and family know more as time goes on -- and -- do everything possible in the meantime to be the best husband and father that you can possibly be! Chances are they may already sense that something is wrong anyway. If your life and theirs improve, you may be able to move in "baby steps" to a much better life.

Find ways to reward them for just letting you, be you!

God bless you.


Kendal Mint Cake
Re: No One To Turn To
I wish you all the best. My husband and I were Peter Priesthood and Molly Mormon personified. We had always done our best to be model members.

I had suppressed doubts about polygamy for years - I just couldn't accept that a loving God would subject His daughters to something they despised so much. I tried so hard to brainwash myself into believing it, and because I couldn't I thought I wasn't worthy.

When we had children we realised we had a moral duty to investigate the church before we indoctrinated them.

We only read church literature, and we prayed a lot, but we came to the conclusion that it is false.

We have several generations of mormons in our family tree, but we are so glad we got out.

We felt like hypocrites because we were supporting a church we did not believe in.


onendagus
Re: No One To Turn To
Bishop Bloor quit sometime last year while still serving in England. His story is fascinating. Here is his letter to the ward:

http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/letter-to-ward-members-re-res...


matt
We are here for you. From all parts of the world.
There's usually someone here, all time zones are covered, more or less.
Tauna
My husband was BP when I quit the church
It was devastating to him, but he recovered and our marriage is stronger than ever. That was 4 years ago.

If you 'come out', expect A LOT of shunning. It won't be easy, but it will probably be the most heroic thing you have ever done.


Mia
Re: No One To Turn To
When someone like you comes on the board I feel like we should all be getting together for a coming out party. I wish we could!

The first time I came here was 2 days after reading mormon think. I cut my temple clothes into tiny little pieces and went online. It takes a lot of courage, especially when you have a calling with a lot of responsibility.

I'm 57, born in the church 5th generation. Resigned with my husband and two adult children on Thanksgiving day.


SusieQ#1
Re: No One To Turn To
Hang in there. You're among friends who can empathize. Most of us have had the same concerns at one time or another.

The best advice seems to be to take it very, very S L O W and give people time to adjust to your changes on a level they can handle.
People just don't do well with abrupt, big changes in their lives.

You need a break! :-) You need time to decompress. Get released from the bishop position on a stress leave, for instance. Might get some medical support.

I decided to keep it simple - only explain that I changed my mind about Mormonism. I was a convert with several decades of total immersion married to an RM who is still a believer (nearly 50 yrs this Aug.) but we make it work.

Try to let go of the guilt. There is nothing to be guilty about. You are free to think and decide for yourself what you want in your life.
Your changes may have some severe results that you won't be able to control.

You're looking at leaving your whole support system: your heritage, family, social support, life style from what you eat, and drink, how you use your time, who you associate with, what movies you see, and how you dress, what you think, what you believe, and on and on. It will be seen by the believers, most likely as a huge, betrayal, and a rejection. Interesting those that leave feel the same way.

It seems to work best when your focus is the unconditional love of your wife and children. Spending more and more time with them, giving them everything of yourself that you can in an honest fashion.

Best wishes, keep connected, there is always someone here to talk to you.


concerned_parent
Re: No One To Turn To
Wow that is a lot to take on without having anyone to talk to. I think you should privately seek out a counselor who is not LDS. Have the opportunity to unburden your soul in a confidential environment. Just talking about it will help you feel not so crazy.

Also there are several boards for people who either slightly believe, don't believe but participate, or are stuck in the church due to family obligations. NEWORDERMORMON comes to mind. They might help you find some comfort in your current aloneness.
http://forum.newordermormon.org/

I would take things slow and easy. Take some time to find your way out.

Hopefully you are close to the end of 4 years as a bishop because usually they release you. If not just take some time and get some help until you can find a path out of this double bind the church has placed you in.


enoughenoch19
Re: No One To Turn To
Hi Bishop,
Oh how I wish that a certain ward in Holiday had a bishop like you rather than the one who ripped me off for over $200,000. That's another story but I did tell his SP and nothing happened. I told the higher ups and nothing happened. This ass is still a bishop even though I consider him no better than Satan.
Anyway, this particular part of your statements below is what I am focused on:
No problem at all. There wasn't a defining event but rather a slow and gradual process.

The weight of my administrative responsibilities have significantly increased the "cost" of my active participation in the church. Before I was a Bishop I still had the doubts, fears, etc. However, since I've been a Bishop, the tremendous burden on my time and emotions of this calling has brought to the surface, in a real way, the doubts I have.

I can't keep from feeling, constantly, "if this stuff isn't even true then why I am subjecting myself to the stresses associated with this calling". Yet I am burdened by the guilt of not feeling like I am "magnifying" my calling. I am constantly having to account to the Stake President about low sacrament attendance, home teaching, tithing contributions. It feels so corporate.

In response to the constant pressure I've felt in this calling I have spent a lot of time over the last couple years reading and studying other sources, outside of the approved materials of the church. This has done nothing but solidify my intellectual doubts. I have massive problems with JS's sexual history, with the circumstances surrounding the abolishment of polygamy (Reed Smooth Senate confirmations) and the mess of the civil rights movement in the 60s (John Birch society). I hate the way the church controls information and opinion (BKP), and how anyone with a brain, but a sincere heart, doesn't have a open forum in the church to discuss sincere matters of questioning and doubt without being labelled an "apostate".

Also, as a Bishop I have an extremely hard time ministering in the conventional "church man" way. I do not believe that laying on additional guilt on people is a good method of real change. I think that the way that the church deals with pornography is ineffective (with all our massive guilt inducing methods). So I don't do it. I disagree with our position on homosexuality. I am very uneasy with how we guilt people into paying tithing (despite the church becoming tremendously wealthy). I have a real hard time seeing the church cut back certain programs (paid cleaners for example) and placing the burden on the members (while the church's balance sheet starts to resemble Google's, if not more).

I've sent people off with "comforting encouragement" in circumstances where others Bishop's may have levied severe sanctions (in fact where I know other Bishop's would have ex-communicated). I have been questioned by Stake officials because of my leniency. This executioner mentality has made me constantly wonder whether this church is really just a social control mechanism and not "Christ's true church". If Jesus were on the earth I don't believe that he would run the church the same way.

I have tremendous difficulty with our claims that we are the "only true and living church". I cannot accept that some of the most Christlike people in my life (who are not Mormon yet have impacted me in a real way more than any Mormon) will not inherit a fullness of glory because they rejected our beliefs. If my friends who I love are not in heaven, frankly I don't want to be there either.

I really know what I feel. Now the next step is just figuring out how to maintain a strong relationship with those I love and try to mitigate the inevitable fallout.

You sound like a wonderful person and if TSCC wasn't so screwed up, you'd be a perfect bishop. You are really too nice to follow the bishop rules b/c you treat people like people, not like subjects to be tormented with guilt and taxed. You follow the golden rule.
What you have written above is well articulated, not angry sounding etc. I think you should basically block and copy it (maybe make a few changes here and there) and then give that letter to the SP. You deserve so much better than TSCC can ever offer you or your family. You are genuine, the real deal. That ward will be losing more than they will ever know or care to know.
BTW - please don't think you really have no one to turn to. I think many people on this board are concerned for you and care about you. Please hang in there.


Can't Resist
Re: No One To Turn To
i wish you had been my bishop. it's terribly lonely...


toto
Yes, I personally experienced what you are going through now.
Except instead of Bishop, I was RS President, Primary President, and when I left, YW President.

In my YW Pres calling, as well as in all my callings (was RS Pres when I started feeling doubts), I taught according to the doctrines that I still believed at that time that the Church held true: belief in Christ and his atonement. I told my bishop about my doubts but also was honest about making sure I taught the YW in my care according to our mutual beliefs. The main issues that bugged me: The YWs' parents didn't know I didn't believe in the main Mormon doctrine and they trusted me to teach according to those beliefs. I felt like I wasn't being honest or teaching with integrity because of that inner feeling of yikes.

My last few lessons were attended by a member of the Bishopric to make sure I didn't stray. One of my counselors tried to force me to bear a testimony in front of the girls but I couldn't.

They removed me quietly from my position, I didn't share any of my lack of beliefs with the YW or anyone other than my counselors, and when I left after that transition day, I never looked back.

But yes. They shunned me and my then-husband and our kids (1 and 3 year olds). The babysitters who used to come from the YW pool wouldn't answer phone calls or come over anymore. But I found this site online (I left the same year RfM began) and a transition group at an Episcopal church in Sandy, Utah. Funny thing: Another person in that group was in the same mission field with me and his wife was one of my then-husband's close friends in high school. We instantly had a group of four to hang together and figure out our next course of action.

There's no easy way about any of this. I took the road I felt I needed to pursue and have been human for the past 17 years. Human feels nice. But it's also hard. You know that "darkness" that people talk about that apostates feel when they leave the church? Yeah. I felt that. But what they don't tell is that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to pass through that hard time to get there.

We're here for you. And I do understand. Fortunately, the friends (who were my real friends) in the church are still my friends without question, or love bombing to get me back. I wouldn't trade getting out for staying in any day. But it's not easy.

Again, we're here for you.


summer
Welcome!
Hello, confused. Hopefully sometime in the future we can get you to adopt a more hopeful board moniker. :-) I'm your friendly neighborhood nevermo sympathizer.

It sounds like you really have magnified your calling as bishop...just not in ways that would necessarily please the church. My sense is that you probably were called in part because you have perfectionist tendencies. So one thing to consider might be doing the parts of the job you like (counseling, helping, etc.) really well, and doing the administrative hoo-hah really badly. Think about it...what are they going to do, fire you? ;-)

As for your growing disbelief...take your time. Proceed slowly. Sow seeds among your loved ones. The one piece of solid advice I can give you... really, truly, fully put your family first. Put them well ahead of the church. If you do this, you will never regret it. People at the end of their lives don't remember all the happy hours that they spent at church. They remember all the happy hours they spent sharing love with family and friends. Motherwhoknows (above) has some good ideas, and I'm sure that you can think of many more. Get your priorities straight, and the rest will follow.


cludgie
Relax and stay tuned
Every individual's story on here is going to be different, and some people have had their "apostasy" from the Mormon church work out for them, and others have not. All you can do is ease into these new shoes over a period of time. Some people bail out all at once, and others haven't left yet. But some have challenges even larger than yours, and some have almost none when it comes to leaving Mormonism.

There are other ex-bishops here, and maybe you could get E-mail contact with them for ideas. One ex-Mo former mission president (moniker is SLDrone) pops in now and again. There are one or two former stake presidents, one a guy from the UK (moniker is Anointed One), and a whole bunch of us who were former everything else, like Relief Society presidents, high council members, EQ presidents, etc.

If the RfM board is too vulgar for you (we're a pissed off lot), you could hang out at PostMormon.org or one of the more gentle sites. But if you want a baptism by fire, this is the right site; no foolin' around here.

Watch and learn. If leaving Mormonism is worth doing (note: it is), then it's worth waiting for, too--waiting for the right time, being all prepared, etc.

(As for your moniker [confused], I think someone else might have claimed it already--I'm not sure. Besides, we're all confused.)

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"