I'm Arza Evans
I grew up in the church, served a mission, served in several bishoprics and was a temple worker. Then I researched church history which led traumatic yet liberating changes in my life. I was a mormon.
I am a retired economics professor living in ST. George, Utah. I am also the black sheep of my family. I am the only one who is not a TBM. I spent two years of my life and all of my college money going on an LDS mission. I have also served in many church positions including three bishoprics and as a temple worker.
At about age forty, I started to do some serious research into church history in order to strengthen my testimony. It was heartbreaking to learn of the deception, abuse of power, and immorality of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other early church leaders. For twenty years I continued my research and compiled it into a book entitled THE KEYSTONE OF MORMONISM. This book is what got me excommunicated.
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On the Mormon Spectrum
Why I left More answers about 'Why I left' the mormon church
I was born in a small mining town in Southern Arizona near the border of Mexico. I was named after LDS Apostle Arza Alonzo Hinckley, uncle of Church president Gordon B. Hinckley.
My grandparents were polygamists from the early Mormon colonies in Mexico. I grew up in a very strict Mormon family. We went to all of our meetings and paid our tithing. We had family prayer every morning and every night. We sang an LDS Church hymn every morning before family prayer. Our family often made the long pilgrimage from Southern Arizona to attend general conference in Salt Lake City. We considered it a great honor to listen to the prophets of God even if we had to stand up in the crowded Tabernacle.
At age eleven, my family moved to the Salt Lake City area where our family could be closer to Church leaders and to a temple. My father held many important positions in the LDS Church including stake presidencies and also a stake patriarch. We had General Authorities in our home on several occasions. When my father and mother went on their mission to England, Church president Spencer W. Kimball and I were speakers at the farewell.
At the age of twenty, I dropped out of college, sold my car, and used my life savings to go on a two year Church mission to the Chicago area. It was a tough mission. My life was threatened on several occasions. But this didn't stop me. I was willing to work hard and even be a martyr, if necessary, in order to convert people to Mormonism.
After my mission, my wife and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple by President Hugh B. Brown, counselor to Church President David O. McKay. I also held many Church positions. I went to BYU and worked in an LDS Temple.
I received a B.S. degree at The University of Utah, and an M.S. degree at Brigham Young University. I then continued my education at The University of Utah. I taught economics at the B.Y.U. Extension Division and also at L.D.S. Business College in Salt Lake City. Then I became an Associate Professor and taught economics on a college level in Saint George, Utah for over thirty years.
Despite taking a number of classes, reading many books, and attending a workshop at San Francisco State University on critical thinking, I somehow never applied logic nor critical thinking to my religion! It was as though I had a switch in my brain that was able to apply critical thinking to almost everything else but then shut itself off when it came to religion.
For example, how could I have ever taken seriously the Book of Mormon story about the Jaredites building 8 wooden submarines with a "stoppable hole" in the top and bottom. These submarines (the length of a tree) were then filled with Jaredite "flocks and herds" and presumably enough food and fresh water to last 344 days at sea! (Ether 6:2-12) And what about human and animal needs for fresh air and sunlight? Since these submarines were under the water much of the time, the "stoppable holes" would have to stay shut. What about human and animal excrement? Even a few days in one of these underwater stockyards would have been fatal for both humans and animals!
And where did Nephi get a spring steel hunting bow in 600 B.C., centuries before spring steel was developed? (1 Nephi 16:18) Why didn't his brothers or anyone else on earth have a steel bow? And where did Joseph Smith's Jaredites get steel swords in 1900 B.C., almost 1000 years before the iron age? (Ether 7:9) And why haven't archaeologists found any iron or steel in ancient American ruins? Did all the iron and steel just disappear? (See any good encyclopedia for information about iron and steel.) How could I have believed all of this nonsense for so many years?
I was about forty years old before I began to seriously question my Mormon indoctrination and programming. It is very ironic how this happened. I decided to strengthen my faith and testimony by making a serious study of the foundations of LDS Church history. With the honest intent of increasing my knowledge and strengthening my testimony of Mormonism, I spent thousands of hours over a period of many years doing research into Church history.
I read the seven volume History of the Church by Joseph Smith. Then I read the six volume Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts. I read most of the twenty six volume Journal of Discourses containing the sermons of early Church leaders. Then I read books about the lives and teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, and other Church leaders. I also read The Book of Mormon for the tenth time.
The result of all this research was just the opposite of what I expected. As I read, I saw a great deal of deception, meanness, lust for power, and even criminal activity. I saw glaring contradictions and inconsistencies in Church doctrine. I began to realize that the "Church history" I had been taught in Sunday school and seminary was mostly sanitized, faith-promoting propaganda. This new perspective came mostly from reading Church publications, not from non-Mormon or anti-Mormon sources. I didn't start reading these until much later.
For the first time in my life I began to have serious doubts about the divine origin and mission of my Church. This was a very frightening experience for me! I did my best to hide my doubts from my family. I became a "closet doubter." For several years I continued my Church activity while denying even to myself the validity of what I was learning. Dreams die hard!
I didn't want to believe what I was finding out. It was too frightening and painful. It was pushing me out of my comfort zone and threatening my very identity. I desperately wanted to believe in the divine origin and destiny of the LDS Church. I was facing the most serious dilemma of my life. Should I just ignore all that I had learned in order to avoid being ostracized by some of my family and friends? Should I turn my back on the truth that I had learned and ignore Smith's deception? After all, Mark Twain said, "Truth is very precious, we must use it sparingly."
After some serious soul searching and about twenty years of research and writing, I published THE KEYSTONE OF MORMONSIM, a book that got me excommunicated. This book presents overwhelming scientific evidence that The Book of Mormon is not authentic ancient American history but fiction. The Book of Mormon is not true. It is a fraud. And what does this say about the honesty and integrity of Joseph Smith?
HAPPINESS, FREEDOM, EXHILARATION
After leaving Mormonism, I began to have strong feelings of freedom and happiness. A heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I could now read anything I wanted without asking, "Does this go along with Mormonism?" "Is it faith promoting?" It doesn't matter any more. And, I can even have a cup of coffee and choose my own underwear!
I became free to respect the beliefs of other churches and religions and reject Joseph Smith's claim that the Lord told him that other churches were "all wrong" and that their ministers and pastors were "all corrupt." What harmful and deceptive nonsense this "revelation" was and is! I no longer needed to rationalize away or explain why over ninety percent of Joseph Smith's many prophesies never happened. The answer is obvious. Joseph Smith was a false prophet!
I no longer needed to explain away or defend the immoral and illegal activities of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other Church leaders. These outlaw activities included an illegal bank in Kirtland Ohio, secret police (Danites), a private army (Zion's Camp), polygamy, and blood atonement. The Mountain Meadows Massacre and other atrocities no longer reflected upon me. I strongly condemn these things and the Church leaders involved.
I no longer need to explain away the many contradictions between Book of Mormon Mormonism and Nauvoo Mormonism. The overwhelming scientific evidence against the authenticity of The Book of Mormon including the Asian DNA of Native Americans is no longer my problem. But it is still a very big problem for LDS Church defenders.
I am also free from guilt for not attending endless meetings, and for not fasting, doing genealogy, temple work, home teaching, accepting all "callings," and confessing my personal life to the bishop. I am free from the financial stress of paying tithing, and sending children on missions. I am also free to spend more time with my family.
In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King: "Free at last! Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!" The main problem that I have now is that I want to share my happiness, and freedom, with my family, friends, and everyone else but most people are not interested.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
What resources have helped you through the process of leaving? See more answers about 'What resources have helped you through the process of leaving?'
I wrote a book called the Keystone of Mormonism. Please find here: amazon.com/Keystone-Mormonism-Arza-Evans/dp/…
It presents excellent reasoning and scientific evidence that The Book Of Mormon is not sacred ancient American history, as claimed by Mormons, but a clever nineteenth-century fraud.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, declared his Book of Mormon to be "…the most correct of any book on earth." However, this careful study reveals a large number of serious errors. For example, his characters had access to spring steel, window glass, machinery, and submarines centuries before these things were invented. They also had horses, chariots, elephants, silk, and linen contrary to the claims of archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scientists. Smith's Nephites and Lamanites were alone here in their "promised land" despite overwhelming scientific proof that many other civilizations have been in America for thousands of years. Also, his "prophets" quoted Old and New Testament Prophets hundreds of years before these men were born in the Old World. The Keystone of Mormonism documents these and other serious errors in Smith's book.
How have you navigated communication and relationships with believing family and friends? Any tips to keeping those people in your life? See more answers about 'How have you navigated communication and relationships with believing family and friends? Any tips to keeping those people in your life?'
The church holds families hostage.
I wrote a paper "Families Held Hostage" you can find here wasmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2023/02/… or below:
Karl Marx, the infamous prophet of world communism, advocated communal ownership of everything including wives and children. This, of course, would abolish not only private property but also the traditional family. Everything and everyone would belong to the community.
Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and other communist leaders, soon learned that abolishing the family was a big mistake. It even threatened their communist party security. These leaders found that strengthening the family unit also strengthened their control and power over people. Anyone who spoke against the party or party leaders were not only placing their own lives and fortunes in jeopardy, but also those of close family members. Very few men or women were willing to do this. Also, when any communist leader traveled abroad to another country as an ambassador, on an economic mission, or even as part of a ballet company, they were never allowed to take family members along with them. If a traveler should defect and ask for asylum in a Western country, their family back home in the Soviet Union, China, or Cuba would pay a very high price including possible execution. Again, very few men or women were willing to subject their families to this much trouble.
Early Mormon leaders were also quick to see the power of family ties. They even invented the non-Christian doctrine of eternal marriage and eternal families. Jesus did not teach eternal marriage nor did any of the Biblical prophets. (Matt. 22:23-30 and Luke 20:27-35) However, L.D.S. Church services often include sermons, songs, poetry, and even dramas depicting the idea that "families can be together forever."
A strong and brave man who is willing to face an enemy’s bullets often melts and becomes compliant when faced with his mother’s tears when she says, "Son we all love you so much, please stay active in the Church, pay your tithing, and go to the temple often so that we can all be together in the celestial kingdom of God. It would break my heart if you were not there with the rest of our family." This awesome power, a loving mother’s pleading and tears, are at the disposal of the Church!
Sometimes Mormon missionaries become disillusioned with missionary work, with Mormonism, or both. Most of these missionaries however, stay on their missions because they do not want to embarrass their parents and other family members. It would be too humiliating to leave their missions and go home. They believe that they would not be welcomed at home. Fear of their family’s reaction forces these missionaries to continue with their missions whether they want to or not.
At first, the concept and slogan "families can be together forever" may sound like a harmless, romantic notion; but in reality it is perhaps the most controlling and stifling doctrine taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It effectively creates fear of ostracism, closes minds, and regulates behavior. Questions about Church policies, doctrine, or history can cause serious family problems, even divorce.
A man or a woman who, after a lengthy study, comes to the conclusion that Mormonism is based upon deception and fraud and who then decides to leave the Church must also be willing to give up his or her family. It may turn out that the doubter is able to persuade family members to change their minds about Mormonism, but the odds are against this happening. Instead, a person usually learns that family members have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that their highest loyalty is to the Church, not to a husband, wife, son, daughter, or even to truth. And a Church member who associates or sympathizes with "apostates" (even family members) fails his or her L.D.S. temple worthiness interview.
Even though some very expensive media advertisements depict Mormonism as family oriented, it actually breaks up many, many families and causes a great amount of pain and suffering. As a missionary, I helped break up a number of families when one person (usually the wife) became converted and then divorced the unbelieving spouse. I am very sorry for this and wish that I could go back and undo all of the damage that I have done. Missionaries are still breaking up families of non-members while trying to strengthen Mormon families.
The Church not only breaks up many non-Mormon families, it also breaks up many L.D.S. families. Utah has one of the highest divorce rates in America. Some of the causes of these divorces include: (1) Overwhelming financial pressures that result from having large families, payment of tithing, sending sons and daughters on missions, and from contributing time and money to other Church programs. All of this can cost a family thousands of dollars. A husband or wife is often forced to take extra employment outside of the home just to pay all of the bills and send out a missionary. (2) Arguments about going to Church meetings and temple attendance can cause alienation. (3) Arguments over Church policies and doctrine also contribute to marriage problems. (4) Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and depression can result from perceived failure to live up to the many many rules and requirements of the Church.
Although claiming to be family oriented, Church policy does not allow parents to witness the marriage of a son or daughter in a Mormon temple unless those parents are members in good standing and full tithe payers. This ticket to the temple can cost thousands of dollars. And since I refused to say that I believed in Joseph Smith and pay this extortion (about $5,000 tithing), I was not allowed to see my own son get married. Also, young Mormon siblings (usually under 18) cannot see an older sister or brother married in a Mormon temple even if the younger person is a faithful full tithe payer. This is not family orientation nor is it Christian. It is another cruel and heartbreaking policy of the Church.
A Heartbroken Mother:
I am a 55 year old woman who grew up in a prominent L.D.S. family. I tried my best to be a good wife and mother and to accept all of my Church callings. I took my children to Church and taught them to believe in Mormonism. After many years of abuse, I ended my "eternal" marriage and divorced my husband. This was not an easy thing for a woman who had been taught since childhood that marriage and family are "eternal" and that she needs a husband who holds the priesthood in order to enter the highest degree in the celestial kingdom of God.
After my divorce, I started to do some serious research into Church doctrine and history in order to strengthen my faith and testimony. The more I studied, the more I came to believe that Mormonism is based upon deception. This heartbreaking disillusionment has been even more painful than my divorce. My parents, my brothers and sisters, and also my children have turned against me. They are all still active Church members. My married children will not even let me be alone with my grandchildren. They are afraid that I may try to turn them against the Church. Adding to my pain is the guilt of knowing that I am the one who taught my children to believe in Mormonism and to act this way.
An Angry Father:
I am a Catholic who married a Mormon woman. I have always tried to be understanding and supportive of my wife’s religion. I even agreed to allow our children to go to her church and be brought up as Mormons. My oldest son and I have always been very close. When he decided to go on a two year mission, I agreed to support him even though I would need to work a lot of extra hours. When he came home from his mission, he married a Mormon girl in an L.D.S temple. Her family and my wife were able to see the wedding but I was not "worthy" to attend. I had to wait outside even though I had paid for his mission and part of his wedding. This made me very angry at the Church and also at those who went along with this cruel treatment. Since the wedding, my son and his wife don’t want much to do with me because I won’t convert to Mormonism. The L.D.S. Church has destroyed my family! I am very sad and angry.
A Temple Wedding:
I still agonize over how much my wedding day must have deeply hurt my parents. I am their only daughter. I refused to drive to the temple with them for fear of smelling like my dad’s cigarette smoke. I have grieved many times since then about my decision to get married in a Mormon temple with my parents standing outside shivering in the December cold. My grandparents and my brothers stayed home, as did my aunt and uncle and cousins.
We walked into the sealing room. Who was there for me? Not any of my family or people who really knew me, cared about me, or loved me throughout my life. The room was full of people that I hardly knew. The temple sealer gave a short talk and then recited some memorized words about us becoming kings and queens in heaven. There were no flowers, no music, no ring ceremony, nothing like the wedding I grew up looking forward to. I had no way of knowing all of this until it was too late.
We were pushed out of the room to make way for the next couple. The cycle time for weddings is only about twenty minutes. We walked out of the temple to where my parents were waiting. My mother was crying. My dad said I looked pretty. I felt horrible. I will never forget that sick feeling in my stomach as long as I live.
My wedding broke my heart and that of my family. I eventually left the Church and my husband but not before my children were taught that temple marriage is the only marriage truly acceptable to God. Today, I face the prospect of one or both of my children being married in the temple surrounded by strangers while I stand outside and wait.
Sometimes I think that non-Mormons and also Mormons who do not get married in the temple should include a statement in their wedding announcements that Mormon temple recommend holders (even close family members) are not invited and not permitted to witness their wedding ceremony just to show them how painful it is to be ostracized.
What organization can claim a stronger family orientation than the Cosa Nostra? Powerful family ties create a very tight and controlling group in the organized crime business. Right and wrong, legal and illegal, and moral or immoral mean nothing when compared with family loyalty. This family oriented organization has created some very serious problems in Italy and America. Then why should any organization brag about being family oriented instead of truth, kindness, love, and law oriented?
Jesus did not teach strong family unity and loyalty. ( Matthew 10: 35-37 and 12:46-50) He taught unconditional love. Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) Ostracism and alienation of family members or anyone else is not loving nor is it Christian. It breaks many hearts.
Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
I am happier out of the church, except for the trouble it has caused with my family. They are not interested in anything that I have learned. They don't want me to talk with them or their children. They seem to love the darkness.