As a convert in his late teens, Bill Reel learned early that church history was messy, but loved it. He began a podcast (which has now grown to host over a dozen individual podcasts) to discuss and explore this messy mormon history. Over the years through examining the church, he discovered that the Mormon church is not what it claimed to be, and on top of that, it was an organization that caused considerable harm. He came to understand that he wasn’t suffering a faith crisis, but that the church has a truth crisis. He held onto the truth and because of it, became excluded from the church. Bill sees his deconstruction as a blessing now, and is able to fully love. He understands that, yes, we’re all broken, but it’s not a bad thing, it’s being human. Bill loves and values each story and believes every story has a right to be told accurately.
Bill is an early contributor to wasmormon.org and signed up to share his own story the day he heard about it. He promoted the site saying “I thought this was awesome. I think you each have a right to your story and I believe you have a right to tell your story. And more importantly, you have a right to not have others tell your story inaccurately. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were 100,000 post-mos profiles on here!?”
I was a 17 year-old convert to the Church. Got married in the Washington D.C. Temple, served in leadership calling after leadership calling and at 29 years old was called to serve as a Bishop of a small mid-western ward in Ohio. I love to read books, listen to podcasts, and learn new things. I love faith development, Mormon history, my family, and being with the most awesome friends on the planet. I was a Mormon.
I learned Mormonism had a messy and complicated past early on in my time in the Church. But as time went on I came to grips with other issues that further complicated my beliefs. I started my podcast “Mormon Discussion” as a believer and sitting Bishop, with the goal to explore Mormon history. Over the span of 5 years I learned so many things the Church chose not to tell me that deeply pointed to it not being what it claimed.
I learned the Church was causing real harm to people who did not fit the mold. The LGBT community was deeply at risk. Others included members who had doubts as well as members who concluded the Church was not what it claimed and left. I sensed just how precarious relationships are between people who loved each other but for which their doubt or disbelief led to believing family stepping back from full inclusive love. I learned the Church was not a safe place for many.
I had to come to grips that the Church shielding its members and the public generally from learning the complicated history was at least in large part intentional. This was hard. Once I dealt with that I was opened up to whether the truth claims of my beloved faith truly held up against the history and against thinking rationally and logically.
I slowly deconstructed my entire belief system and lost faith in Mormonism’s truth claims and in Mormonism’s ability to be healthy to others if those healthy interactions would damage the institutional Church. In the beginning I thought I was having a faith crisis. That wasn’t true. I wanted Mormonism to be truth more than anything else. If anything maybe I cared too much. Instead the Church had a truth crisis.
In my own personal growth and development, the Church no longer represented my values. I wasn’t less than. I didn’t want to sin. I wasn’t lazy. I had outgrown Mormonism and it was no longer a safe place for me and the truths I held to voraciously.
It can be scary wondering what now when you deconstruct the faith you grew up in and/or had your identity tied to. For me and my family, we are happier. We live more abundantly. Outside the Church we can love each other and other humans more fully. We welcome diversity and differences.
What makes us different is way more real than what makes us the same. People are broken but such is not bad. Outside the Church we have been able to be more vulnerable. More authentic. More real. And we make safe space for others to do the same. We show up. We lean in. And we try to be present each and every moment.
I believe in humanity. I believe there is mystery in the universe but I don’t feel adequate naming it. I make space for people to believe differently and hope they give me the same with complete respect. I love people’s stories and hope you recognize your story has value. Don’t let anyone tell your story inaccurately. You have a right to your story being told. So with that I wish you the best on your journey.Bill Reel
Read Bill’s mormon story and full wasmormon profile at: https://wasmormon.org/profile/bill-reel/
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