Daniel was raised Mormon and cruised along the Mormon conveyor belt in life. He’s also a physician and was educated to “research and investigate, to seek truth from reliable sources”. He suffered from religious scrupulosity and constantly felt like a sinner. He came across the Gospel Topic Essays though and quickly felt “uneasy with the history of the church”. He saw quickly that the narrative the church teaches is far from truthful. It doesn’t match the historical or scientific records. Studying these issues for years took him into depression and the leaders had no answers other than to “keep believing” and stay in the boat. Finally, Daniel decided to leave. He broke the generational Mormon chain but sees that this allows for growth, happiness, and authenticity.
I’m a Family Physician in Minnesota, but I grew up in Idaho in a community that was predominantly Mormon. I never questioned the historical claims of the Church and trusted all my Church leaders that what I was taught was true. All my major life decisions including family, education, and finances were heavily influenced by my desire to gain salvation by following the rules and policies of the church. I was a Mormon.
I suffered from severe scrupulosity (religious OCD) and felt I was constantly a sinner. I never realized that the Church membership made up less than 0.2% of the world population, and the amount of active believers was far less than that. In my late 20s, I began reading the Church’s “Gospel Topics Essays”, and quickly began feeling uneasy with the history of the Church. I spent 5 years reading everything I could about the history of the Church, Joseph Smith, and The Book of Mormon.
I quickly realized the narrative taught in the Church is far from truthful, and doesn’t match the historical or scientific record. For years I painfully tried to make the church work in my life and I played mental gymnastics to silence my doubts.
This lead to depression – it’s difficult to pretend to believe something you think is hurtful, especially when you fear losing your wife and children if you decide to leave the church. The Church has an undeniable history of racism and sexism. The Church has over 100 Billion in assets, and gives an infinitesimally small portion to the poor.
The leaders of the church couldn’t answer my questions and told me to keep believing. I made the decision to leave and haven’t looked back. There have been new challenges with leaving, but being able to be honest with myself has created a new found peace. I’m living in the here and now, and not living out of fear.
Having the courage to break the generational Mormon chain is difficult, but allows for growth, happiness and authenticity. As a physician I’ve been trained to research and investigate, to seek truth from reliable sources. I also believe in faith, hope, honesty, transparency, justice and truth.
Suggestions about how to deal with my still-Mormon family? Be kind and patient. If they decide to leave, it will be on their terms. Don’t be a know-it-all, but encourage them to read and learn. I wish I would have had more guidance.Daniel
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