Christopher Was a Mormon, an Ex-Mormon Profile Spotlight

Christopher’s path within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encompassed doubt, growth, and eventual departure. Born into the faith, he faced critical information as a teen and young adult. He grappled with church history, racial issues, and doctrinal conflicts. His departure from the church marks an authentic pursuit of personal truth and growth beyond the faith of his upbringing.

I was born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but, like all members, had to decide for myself whether I actually believed in it or not. I thought it was boring and my attitude toward it ranged from apathetic to hostile until a random spiritual epiphany around age twelve or so. From then on it was an incentive for me to not kill myself, first out of fear that I would be punished for it and later out of love for God and hope for a better future. I was a Mormon.

I don’t have the usual male apostate’s checklist of qualifications. I didn’t graduate seminary, I didn’t serve a mission, I was never Elders Quorum president, I didn’t marry in (or out of) the temple. But I was fiercely committed to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a teenager and for my first decade of adulthood. I wanted to be a beacon leading souls to Christ, a role model for balancing faith and reason, someone that people could look to and say “He’s intelligent and knows about all the issues and still believes, so I can too.” Perhaps I felt a bit prideful about staying in the church while leaving it was the trendy, obvious choice for my generation. Changing my mind was very hard, embarrassing, and long overdue.

In August 2010, age seventeen, I stumbled upon my first “anti-Mormon” website and discovered a bunch of the things people typically cite for their loss of faith – Joseph Smith’s 1826 trial, Joseph Smith’s evolving accounts of the First Vision, Joseph Smith’s failed prophecies, DNA evidence contradicting the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham not matching the papyrus, and so on. I was blindsided and confused, but because of my recent spiritual experiences at EFY (now FSY) I held onto my faith until I found answers. Most of the answers from FAIR and other apologists were good enough for me. What I could never resolve, though, was the feeling of betrayal at having to learn these things from hostile sources instead of the church itself, or why it had sanitized, dumbed down, and misrepresented its history, which is ethically dubious at best and has caused a lot of avoidable problems. Why didn’t prophets, seers and revelators have the foresight to be more honest before the internet gave them no choice?

The church’s history/beliefs with race (including but not limited to the Priesthood) are abysmal, full stop, and in my opinion there simply is no adequate explanation for why an organization led by God screwed up so badly on such a basic issue as the equality of God’s children. I found this topic very troubling as a Mormon and researched it more than almost anyone else in the world, hoping that at some point it would make sense. That didn’t happen.

And no, it’s not true that “everyone was just as racist back then.” Many people opposed slavery and supported the civil rights movement while this church did the opposite. Recognizing that its stance on race was never inspired helped me to recognize that its stances on women and LGBT+ individuals aren’t either.

I did “doubt my doubts.” I was not a “lazy learner” or a “lax disciple.” I’ve tried to be an honest seeker of truth, and at this time, my honest truth-seeking has led me outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I appreciate much of what I’ve learned and gained from the church and I don’t intend to throw it all away. I do, however, want to get outside of its conditioning and see it more as outsiders see it. I want to learn in depth about other religions as objectively as I can, without evaluating all of their teachings through the filter of how much they align with what I already believe. I have no predetermined destination in mind and no goal of converting to something else. In all this, my highest priority is my personal relationship with God, which the church taught me to value. 

I might close my own remarks the same way Stewart Udall closed his Statement of Conscience when he distanced himself from the church seventy-five years ago: “All this is said respectfully, in the realization that the Church contains much that is good, true, and beautiful …. and that it fills a felt need for most of its adherents. I nevertheless feel that I cannot enter into full communion with the church, indeed cannot commune with it at all in good conscience, as long as these attitudes, ideas and principles – and the men who further them – dominate the church.”


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