Date: March 17, 2016 09:17PM
This is how I went from being a “believer” to a “non-believer” (within the LDS religion).
The Truman Show – Initially unaware that he is living in a “constructed reality”… Truman becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth.
I was like any other typical Utah Mormon:
- Born and raised in a Mormon family
- I come from pioneer stock - Mormon pioneers in both parent’s family lines
- Grew up believing, not really ever questioning
- Very active in the Church
- Graduated from Seminary
- Have always felt the burden of “not being good enough, not doing enough, etc”. Fear and guilt were always prevalent. But I never questioned the fact that I was a part of God’s chosen people.
- Went on a mission
- Married in the Temple
- Started a family
- I have a great wife, and great kids
Then, from out of nowhere, I:
- Find some disturbing information that I thought to be blatantly wrong about the church
- Decide to study to prove it wrong. I wanted to find the truth
- Am shocked to find what I had been taught is not what actually happened
- Am even more shocked to find the Church corroborates what I thought was misinformation
- Decide I can just put that on “my shelf”. (That place you put things in your mind that you know will be straightened out in that afterlife)
o However, my study has spurred a fury of activity – because all of a sudden more items need to be studied - which is weird, because I was pretty solid in my knowledge of the church, right? I had been a missionary, for crying out loud.
o In the meantime, never for a second expecting to come to the determination that the Church is Not True!! NEVER!
o In fact, vigorously doubting my doubts as I had been taught.
o But as fact after fact poured in – all facts corroborated by the Church – my “shelf” was getting pretty full – it was really starting to sag.
o As I realized the “foundational truths” of my Mormon religion were completely different than what I had been taught… this realization came in one defining moment… and…
Ka - BOOM!!
That was the sound of my shelf completely collapsing under the weight of the overwhelming realization that it was all just a bunch of lies. My ‘constructed reality’ had been exposed! Just like Truman, I’d come to the point where there is a door to leave this “constructed reality”. I was about to open that set door and leave. Scary, and exciting!
But, I didn’t leave!
I couldn’t leave!
A million emotions worked me over like a rented mule. Family, friends, neighbors, everything in my daily routine – it all revolved around my Mormon religion. Could I just walk away? How do you just walk away? How do you just walk away, but stay in the middle of it all? Was I the only one who has issues with the Church? Am I just some kind of freak show? In my earlier days, when I would see someone walk away from the Church, I was convinced they did it because:
a. They wanted to sin
b. They wanted to stop paying tithing
c. They stopped praying
d. They were sinning and didn’t want to go through the repentance process
In fact, I’m ashamed to say – I judged people – harshly – when I would see them walk away. I too was convinced that is why people left the Church.
But none of those things applied to me. I was exactly the same.
a. I didn’t get to that point because I wanted to sin
b. I didn’t get to that point because I wanted to stop paying tithing
c. I didn’t get to that point because I had stopped praying
d. I didn’t get to that point because I needed to repent for something
e. The only reason I got to that point is because I ONLY WANTED TO KNOW THE TRUTH.
I was living my life worthy to obtain a Temple Recommend– except for those 2 little questions:
1. Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the Gospel in the latter days? (Not anymore!!)
2. Do you sustain the Prophet…? (Not anymore!!)
So, what did I do?? I chose to take that little piece of information – THAT THE CHURCH IS NOT TRUE – and tuck it away, never to be discussed again. I wasn’t going to tell my wife, or friends, or kids, or family that I was not a believer. It wasn’t fair to my wife. She married her husband in the temple for time and eternity – and now her husband is stepping away. Clearly that wasn’t fair to her. I completely understood it wasn’t fair to her. So, I lived that way for about 6-7 years. I paid my tithing, accepted callings in the church, kept getting my temple recommend. And quite frankly it (lying) was easy to do for those 6-7 years. Then, all of a sudden – something happened. I don’t know what triggered it. I describe it as “the wheels started falling off”.
a. I began constantly thinking about the church issues again
b. I started having dreams about it
c. I began to realize I could not continue living the lie
d. It consumed me daily
e. I had a brother-in-law ask me if I was a believer, and I told him no. My answer completely shocked me! I couldn’t believe I had just told him that! (the wheels were starting to fall off)
f. I had an uncle talking generically about church activity – and I decided to tell him I’m not a believer. I was again totally shocked I told him that! What the crap is wrong with me?? I had kept this stuff secret so long with no problems – why was I telling people these things?? (again, the wheels were starting to fall off!)
g. The very last time I went to the temple – I KNEW I could never go back. The reason I knew I couldn’t go back is because at a certain point during the session I looked at it from the standpoint of someone who thinks this is absolutely not true. I actually starting laughing. I know that is offensive to say – and I never want to disparage anyone for their beliefs. I want to completely respect the beliefs of others – therefore, I knew I could not go back. I was then, and am still now, ashamed that I started laughing. But I also think it was part of the inevitable process I was going through of “these wheels falling off”.
The process of the “wheels falling off” lasted for just over a year. Looking back on that year I feel like I followed the Kubler-Ross model – the stages of mourning. I did not realize it at the time.
1. Deny – yeah, I denied for 6-7 years.
2. Anger – believe me, I was pissed. The anger came 6-7 years ago when I first learned of the actual history of the Church. Then the anger came again during that last year, as I basically went through all of the studying of the history of the church again. I was pissed that what I was taught wasn’t true, pissed that the church knew it wasn’t’ true, but still taught it, pissed that I taught it to people on my mission (I feel like I need to go apologize to those people), and mostly pissed that I didn’t do my due diligence and learn the history of the church on my own – instead I just believed what I had been told. I’m not guiltless in all of this.
3. Bargaining – I avoided having to ‘let it go’, or to tell anyone. I thought it could all be worked out in the next life.
4. Depression – I was convinced the moment I told my wife, that would be the end of our marriage. In fact, that was really the only reason I didn’t want to tell anyone – my marriage. That was the only reason I went 6-7 years of “pretending” everything was normal – “pretending” that I was a believer.
5. Acceptance – Cowboy-up. It had to be done. I had to stop lying. I had to tell the truth.
So, after the trip to the temple, I knew I needed to stop lying about how I felt about the Church. I was lying to everyone around me. My wife thought we had the “Celestial Marriage”, but it was a lie. (We were happy in our marriage – but under false pretenses). I was teaching Elder’s quorum – but I wasn’t a believer. I was lying to my bishop to get temple recommends. I was living a lie. Like I said, for about a year, this issue consumed me. I thought about it all the time. I would create plans to stop lying (somehow tell the truth), but then I would talk myself into not following through with the plan. I told myself I was being selfish if I “came out” as a non-believer. But, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was even having dreams/nightmares about it. The last dream I had before I finally confessed to my wife is the only dream I remember. I dreamt that we were both on the top of a very steep mountain and my plan was to confess to her on the top of that mountain that I don’t believe in the church. As we made it to the summit, the footing at the top made it difficult to stay there. As I was trying to summon the courage to tell her, she had no idea the internal turmoil I was going through. She all of a sudden said she was ready to go back down the mountain and she turned and started to leave. Well at that point, I needed to grab her arm and pull her back so I could tell her, but the mountain was so steep she was disappearing very quickly. So I lunged to grab her. In my dream I missed her, and I didn’t get the chance to tell her. I was devastated. At the same time I woke up, and realized on was on her side of the bed and I had been trying to grab hold of the wall (as if it had an arm to grab onto), but I almost actually grabbed her. The next morning my wife told me that in the middle of the night I freaked out and started trying to grab at the wall.
A few days later – I confessed to my wife that I’m not a believer.
So, what specifically was it that was so disturbing to me? What were those lies that I keep mentioning above? Well, here they are. The first item I discussed above that I actually thought was a blatant lie, and completely wrong is the method in which the BOM was translated. My previous job was in Sales and I travelled mostly around the western US. One night as I had arrived at my hotel I turned on the tv and there was a commercial for a South Park episode that was about to begin. It was going to be an episode that was about Mormons. I thought, hey I’m a Mormon, yes they are going to skewer the religion, but hey, I can laugh about it too. So I was excited to see it. Well, the episode showed JS translating the BOM by putting a rock in a hat, and sticking his face in the hat to block out the light, then the words would show up in English. Whoa! Hold the boat! I was completely embarrassed for the creators of South Park. How could they get it so wrong? That wasn’t even close to how it happened, right? Everyone knows the BOM was translated using Golden Plates. For crying out loud, the Nephite and Lamanite Prophets carried those frickin heavy plates halfway across the world to fulfill the prophecy of JS bringing in the fullness of the gospel in the last dispensation. Laban got his frickin head cut-off for these plates – and you’re telling me that the plates weren’t used?? You’re telling me these plates weren’t needed?? Well, I was completely embarrassed for South Park – they were way wrong! I was disappointed because the episode was not even funny to me because of that. But, I got over it that night. I didn’t give it much thought for a few days, but then it started to bug me. So then I decided to do a little research on the matter.
Yeah… that decision to do “a little research” pretty much opened Pandora’s Box.
Here is a high-level list of the problems I discovered about the church. I have made a few simple comments about each.
1. B.O.M. Translation Method
a. BOM was translated using a stone in a hat - Not the Golden Plates!!
b. Reading words in English from the stone – that’s not translating!! That’s reading!!
c. By the way, JS used this same method to Treasure Hunt. Yeah, he had to go to trial for and was convicted of ripping people off – because he never found a single thing.
2. First Vision
a. The current version wasn’t even written until 22 years after the event. Oh, by the way, it is the last of many different accounts (keep changing it until it sounds good??!)
b. 4 different “First Vision” accounts by JS – all accounts vary – from one personage to many appeared in the vision.
c. No account was written for 12 years after it was supposed to have happened
d. Total of 8-10 accounts – each account varies
e. Similar accounts from the following people – but PRIOR to the current version we all know and love:
i. Asa Wild
ii. Elias Smith
iv. James Marsh
v. Charles Finney
vi. Norris Stern (Richard Bushman said JS adopted this version)
vii.James G. Marsh (14 year old boy)
3. Book of Abraham
a. Original papyri exists.
b. Why didn’t the church tell us back then the original papyri still exists?? That would be like having the original Golden Plates all of a sudden show up! (the papyri showed up in the early 1970’s)
c. The translation is NOT EVEN CLOSE! Totally incorrect!! (that’s why the church wasn’t too excited to tell everyone they have the original papyri). (Same with the stone JS used to translate – the church has had it in their possession many years…why didn’t they bother to tell us until recently??)
a. I was taught JS was not a polygamist. (I realize many people were taught that he was, but to what degree varies.) Not only was a polygamist – but he took it a whole new level – very similar to Warren Jeffs!
b. Married at least 34 women
c. Married 10 teenagers, including a 14 year old, a 15 year old, and two 16 year old girls
d. Told some of the teenagers hers and her family’s eternal salvation depended on her marrying him
e. JS sent men on their missions, then married their wife
f. 11 polyandry marriages
g. D&C 132 requires virgin, and permission from original wife – that certainly didn’t happen
h. JS did all this behind his wife’s back (Emma), and continually lied to her when she would confront him about it
i. JS lied about all of his polygamous/polyandrous marriages – and had affidavits written confirming he was not doing these things – lies!!
j. GBH lied on national tv about polygamy! (“It’s not doctrinal”, and he condemns it – yet it is still in the LDS scriptures!)
5. Temple Endowment
a. It is not from God - it is copied from the Freemasons (masonic)
b. many changes to the ceremony
6. Witnesses to Plates
a. The first pages to the BOM have the accounts of the 3 Witnesses, and the 8 Witnesses – which both say the witnesses saw the plates. But we now are told by the church that they didn’t see the plates.
b. The church tells us most of these witnesses left the church, but never denied their testimony. True, but most joined other churches and they never denied those churches either. In fact, all but Oliver Cowdery joined the Strangites. James Strang:
i. Claims he was visited by an angel, told him to translate some hidden plates
ii. Obtained a “Urim and Thumin”. Produced a Book of the Law of the Lord
iii.Produced 11 witnesses, 4 witnesses that actually watched him dig up the plates!
7. Problems with B.O.M. / Problems with the church:
a. View of the Hebrews – a book written by Oliver Cowdery’s pastor 5 years PRIOR TO the BOM. The book tells a story about:
• the destruction of Jerusalem
• the scattering of Israel
• the restoration of the 10 tribes
• a story about Jews (Hebrews) leaving the Old World for the New World
• Religion is a motivating factor
• Talks about the migration – or long journey
• They encounter “seas” of “many waters”
• Discuss the Americas as an uninhabited land
• Settlers journey Northward
• The Hebrews settle the land and are the ancestral origin of American Indians
• Talks about Hebrew is the origin of Indian language
• Talks about Egyptian hieroglyphics
• Talks about lost Indian records
• Talks about a Breastplate, Urim & Thummin
• Has a story about a man standing on a wall warning the people saying “Wo, wo to this city…” while subsequently being attacked.
• Quotes whole chapters of Isaiah
• Talks about a the Messiah visiting the Americas
• Long wars break out between the civilized and barbarous
• The barbarous exterminate the civilized
(That’s weird – kind of sounds like the BOM!!!)
b. The Late War – a book published in 1816 has extremely unique phraseology – just like that of the BOM??!!
c. The First Book of Napolean – published in 1809, has many similarities to the BOM (or a better way to say it – the BOM has many similarities to it)
d. 1769 KJV – same errors in that Bible are in BOM, (italicized words)
e. Whole chapters of Isaiah, including words that were added many years after Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem!
f. According to Joseph's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, he possessed a vivid imagination and was telling stories with Book of Mormon themes years before he allegedly found the gold plates.
During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.
Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p.345
g. LDS historian and Seventy B.H. Roberts shares Lucy's view.
That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question.
B.H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.243
h. Anachronisms – Horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, steel, chariots, glass at the times of the Jaredites, many more… These things didn’t exist in BOM times!
i. Archeology – No evidence whatsoever of Lamanites/Nephites, and BYU Archeologists agree. BOM claims of millions of people – and we can’t find jack squat??!!
j. Lehi’s vision of the tree of life is almost exactly the same as JS Sr.’s dream from years earlier!
k. Change to the BOM Introduction (2006) – from “principal ancestors” of American Indians to “among the ancestors”. South and Central Americans are of Asian descent. Oops!
l. Blacks and the Priesthood – Stanford, threat of tax exemption change, JS gave 2 blacks the priesthood, Brazil. Oops!
m. Spencer W. Kimball said you can see the Lamanites turning white.
n. Many, many changes in the BOM. (fundamental changes such as the Godhead)
o. Kinderhook Plates. Oops!
p. Mark Hoffman forgeries. Oops!
q. BOM contains the “mistakes” that the JST had to fix. ??
Note: I have only listed the problems above using one or two sentences. And, I have not even come close to listing all of the issues – this is just a sample. Each issue could and should be studied in depth so that you can make the determination of what the issue is, what happened, then you and only you can process that information and determine how to move forward with it. I’ve had discussions with TBMs that were fully aware of every issue I’ve listed above – and yet they are still complete believers. At first it shocked me! How could you already know all of this, yet still believe?? Well, I’ve determined that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind by writing this. I only write this to at least tell my point of view.
So, if we review the fundamental teachings of the church, including what happened and the circumstances of how they happened – the final result = DID NOT HAPPEN. For example:
A. JS prayed and received a visit from God and Jesus Christ = DID NOT HAPPEN
B. JS translated the Golden Plates, a record of ancient people = DID NOT HAPPEN
C. We have a record of 3 and 8 witnesses who saw the Golden Plates = DID NOT HAPPEN
D. JS translated papyri – a record of Abraham = DID NOT HAPPEN
E. People came from Jerusalem 600 B.C. to the Americas = DID NOT HAPPEN
And this list just goes on and on and on…
And the church knows these are lies that they just keep telling – as evidenced by their own LDS Essays!
Again, this is my point of view.
I will never forget that moment in time when “Ka-Boom – my shelf collapsed”. It literally happened all at once, and at that moment I knew the church was not true. I will never forget the feeling of complete relief! It was as if a 100 lb backpack had just been removed from me that I had been carrying all this time. And, the weird part is – I never realized I was carrying that burden until it was gone. When it was gone, I then recognized the burden I had been carrying. That burden equated to continually trying to stuff a square peg in a round hole. I am now relieved of that burden.
I have always felt that Religion is not of God. More deaths have been caused, by far, in the name of “religion” than anything else. I have also felt that:
Religion = business, and the currency is fear / guilt.
So, just like Truman, I have just opened the door and I am in the early stages of My Journey. With the great relief I have received comes the inevitable pain and anguish that I have caused my family – and that is my number 1 focus now… keep my family together.