Hi there, I’m Beth.
I’m an easy going, witty, responsibly spontaneous person, and generally thrilled to be alive. I was a mormon.
I was born into the church with LDS pioneer ancestry on my dad’s side and a convert mom. I checked all the Mormon boxes, except the most critically important temple marriage/sealing one.
Unfortunately, I had many negative experiences at church over the years, beginning as a teenager, that have influenced my decision that the church is not a healthy environment for me. But more importantly, as I gained more life experience, there developed a divide between what I was taught and what I actually experienced. Then, another divide developed when I began to learn some of what I was taught wasn’t actually true. This led me to the conclusion that the LDS church is not what it professes to be and I no longer believe in any of it’s truth claims.
My faith transition was not something I took lightly. I spent several painful years trying to make the church work for me. Over time, it became more and more difficult to defend and justify certain things about church history, doctrine, teachings, and culture. I had pushed those thoughts away, put them on the proverbial shelf as we are taught to do but eventually I found myself in a position where my faithful arguments were so strained and untenable that I could no longer make them in good conscience. I could not force myself to believe that they were possible explanations any longer. I could not engage in the mental gymnastics required to make it all make sense.
Questions I've answered
Are you happy? More was mormon answers about 'Are you happy?'
I’m happier and more at peace now than I have been in years. I feel more authentic and true to myself. Living my life outside of the church didn’t bring any of the unhappiness I was taught or feared it would.
Are you lazy? Is that why you left? More was mormon answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
I spent nearly a decade wrestling with gospel questions I didn’t understand. I studied, pondered and questioned everything in that search. It was anything but lazy or easy.
Did you want to sin? Is that why you left? More was mormon answers about 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?'
I certainly wanted to enjoy a sexually fulfilling life, which in my unmarried state was forbidden by the church. I remained true to my covenants until I didn’t believe those convents to be meaningful. I left because I didn’t find the truth, not because I wanted to sin.
Were you offended? Is that why you left? More was mormon answers about 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?'
As a childless and unmarried woman, I was treated poorly, often ignored in my wards. I felt invisible and worthless; that I brought no value to the church and that I was not needed. Yes, I was offended and it was painful but I remained in the church despite that mistreatment. I left when I no longer believed the church’s truth claims.
What parts of Mormonism were harmful to you? More was mormon answers about 'What parts of Mormonism were harmful to you?'
The blatant sexism and resulting purity culture. Spencer W. Kimball’s book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness” taught me, a sexual assault victim, that I bore some responsibility for what happened and I would’ve been better off having been killed. I grew up believing I was worthless, less than, and no Mormon man would want to marry me. This chipped away at my self esteem until I found myself in a deep depression with suicidal ideation.
What broke your shelf? More was mormon answers about 'What broke your shelf?'
Learning the true history of Joseph Smith. It started when I read a biography about Emma Smith that my orthodox parents owned. I was horrified by what I learned in that book and that lead to me want to learn more. The evidence is overwhelming that he was a fraud, a liar and a sexual predator. He wasn’t who he claimed to be therefore the Book of Mormon is fraudulent and the entire foundation of the church and my testimony crumbled.
How long was your struggle? More was mormon answers about 'How long was your struggle?'
My first faith crisis happened at 22, I stopped fully believing around 32 and I officially left at 42. Two entire decades.
How or why did you stay in the pew? More was mormon answers about 'How or why did you stay in the pew?'
I would describe myself in my 30s as a progressive Mormon feminist who desperately wanted the church to be true. Hope made want to stay but fear kept me from leaving.
If you have remained active or semi-active in the church as a non-believer or semi-believer, why do you remain active? More was mormon answers about 'If you have remained active or semi-active in the church as a non-believer or semi-believer, why do you remain active?'
After I realized I no longer believed the church was true, I spent several years fighting my faith transition, because I was still afraid to admit it.
Accepting my disillusionment was heartbreaking. The culture of fear the church instilled in me was so powerful and I slipped into a double life where I conducted my life authentically with some people and put on a façade with others. I was too scared to admit what I believed for fear of judgement, fear of hurting people, and the fear of not knowing how to live my life fully outside Mormonism.
What do you feel or know about Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?'
Plural marriage is an unholy and impure practice. It devalues women, essentially reducing them to property. When the church denounced polygamy, for political reasons, in 1890, they continued the practice in Canada and Mexico and lied about it. President Hinckley said on television that he doesn’t believe polygamy is doctrinal yet the doctrine of polygamy hasn’t been disavowed and that speaks volumes.
How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon? More was mormon answers about 'How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?'
Confirmation bias. I wanted to believe so I interpreted my feelings to validate what I wanted to believe. I was taught how to do this from a young age. Feelings are not facts.
What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham?'
The translation is a fraud, willingly committed by a man who knowingly deceived his followers. It has been documented as fraudulent by experts in and out of the church. This alone is enough to cast sufficient doubt on any of Joseph Smith’s claims.
What do you feel or know about the different First Vision accounts? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about the different First Vision accounts?'
I used to defend the various accounts when I was an active member. Now I understand that the difference in the accounts are very significant. The first documented account in 1832 makes no mention of two personages, being overcome by Satan or that Joseph Smith wanted to know which church to join. Those three items are the crux of the official account written in 1838.
What do you feel or know about tithing? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about tithing?'
The church took the law of tithing, turning it from a voluntary and temporary practice to being tied directly to your worthiness and salvation. Paying money to access god in the temple is a corrupt practice. I find it abhorrent that the church, with over 100 billion dollars, would ask people to pay tithing before their bills. Exploiting the poor and then using their experiences as faith promoting stories is immoral.
Everyone who pays tithing should have their temporal needs ensured, but that’s not what happens.
What is the Word of Wisdom? More was mormon answers about 'What is the Word of Wisdom?'
It’s implementation in modern Mormonism was a reaction to the prohibition movement. It’s now used as a device to prove loyalty and obedience to the organization. It has nothing to do with Christ or Christian principles.
What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony? More was mormon answers about 'What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony?'
I liked the washing and anointing ceremony. I recall feeling loved and I liked the ritual of the body and mind being blessed. I wasn’t touched inappropriately. The rest of it is just a big ???
If all time and money dedicated to temple worship was spent on serving the living in local communities, the amount of good Mormons could do is incredible.
What was transitioning out of Mormonism (or Orthodox Mormonism) like for you? What was most painful about it? What was most healing or joyful about the transition? More was mormon answers about 'What was transitioning out of Mormonism (or Orthodox Mormonism) like for you? What was most painful about it? What was most healing or joyful about the transition?'
I feel I have been lied to and feel deeply betrayed and hurt by the church. Confronting these emotions caused intense grief and heartache. I had to grieve the loss of my former life and culture and my identity as a member. I felt awful knowing I disappointed my family and how my choices impact their belief system about the eternal family. I struggled feeling like I will be judged and disrespected by the people I love.
The church prevented me from living the life I wanted for myself and accepting the reality of that filled me with anger. I feel much of my life has been stolen from me. Understanding and accepting all of this is extremely painful.
Learning to listen to and love myself have been powerful in my healing. Leaving the church made me realize the church limited happiness and joy to this one little box but there are so many ways to live a fulfilling, happy, purposeful and joyful life. I feel like my world has expanded and there is so much potential for love and happiness. It feels like a rainbow of joy exploded.
Has your struggle improved since you left? More was mormon answers about 'Has your struggle improved since you left?'
After I disclosed my faith transition, my struggle grew immensely more difficult as I sorted out all the difficult emotions that brought. It took about a year to feel stabilized and another year to settle into the new normal. It feels like each year is just getting better and better.
What are the blessings of your faith transition? More was mormon answers about 'What are the blessings of your faith transition?'
Learning to trust myself has been a remarkable and unexpected blessing. I didn’t realize my ability to rely on my own feelings, intuition and opinions was always overshadowed by what the church taught me I should do, feel or think.
I am finally getting to know the real me and I love her.
What advice would you give folks who are transitioning? More was mormon answers about 'What advice would you give folks who are transitioning?'
The transition is painful. There will be a lot of grief and anger but those emotions do not mean the transition is wrong.
What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone? More was mormon answers about 'What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone?'
The church caused me a great deal of harm and when I speak about that and am told to “leave it alone” it’s very dismissive and hurtful. There has been no “mourning with those who mourn” in this situation. I was left entirely on my own. The church is abusive and I will continue to speak up about it.
Despite leaving the faith, the church still feels very personal to me. I wish for the church to be what I hoped and believe it should be. I want it to be better. The church is so much a part of who I am I don't think I'll ever be able to leave it alone, but hopefully one day I won't care as much.
How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.? More was mormon answers about 'How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.?'
I think it’s been harder on me than on them. I have found my friends and family to be generally nice to me but not supportive of my decision. I am immensely grateful I have been able to maintain healthy relationships with them.
What resources have helped you through ths process of leaving? More was mormon answers about 'What resources have helped you through ths process of leaving?'
My therapist. I was fortunate that I was able to see a therapist to help guide me through the transition. I had been semi-active or inactive for a number of years before I disclosed my faith transition to others and I was completely blindsided by the fallout. I had no idea how unstable I would feel and how many complex emotions and feelings would come up.
My post Mormon friends. INVALUABLE.
r/exmormon on Reddit. The experience of leaving is fairly universal. This group helped me feel like I wasn't alone, nor was I crazy for all the feelings and emotions I was experiencing.
happywholeway.com Two women help coach people through faith transitions. They are not former or current Mormons but left their own Christian denominations. The overlap in experiences is astounding.
What do you believe now? More was mormon answers about 'What do you believe now?'
I believe in human kindness and treating others with love and respect. I don’t subscribe to any belief system and consider myself agnostic. I love the idea of heaven but accept it very well might not exist.
Why are you sharing your story? More was mormon answers about 'Why are you sharing your story?'
I hid my faith transition for a long time. There is a lot of stigma around people who choose to leave. I’m proud I found the courage to live authentically, despite it being contrary to the norms of my family and culture.