Hi, I'm Barton.
I enjoy heavy metal and K-pop. I'm a student, bookworm, and lover of fun. I am a truth-seeker and avid learner. I was a mormon.
My entire family and extended family are Mormons and have been since forever. Both sides. My dad was a bishop and a counselor in the stake presidency, now both my parents serve in the temple and plan on serving missions. All 6 of us kids served missions except my oldest sister. Everyone is married in the temple so far. So aside from not living/growing up in Utah, my life has basically checked all the Mormon boxes. I never once thought to question what was taught to me as the truth. Any questions I have had were either unanswerable, left to be answered in the next life, or not important enough to need an answer.
My whole life up until my mission was basically only as much of the gospel as my parents dictated. I didn't need to participate fully, so I didn't. Then I was changed through 2 years of daily study and preaching and service. Missions are an effective way to get the doctrine and beliefs far enough in your life to make them stick for a while. Overall, it was a wholesome and enriching experience. Throughout it, I often had a nagging feeling of not being good enough or doing enough, which is one of the problems I see with the church. Self-esteem and feelings of self-worth are so low because you never measure up. Since the mission it's been an up and down rollercoaster of feeling worthy and unworthy until the day I found some new information...
Why I left
I stumbled upon the CES letter and "letter for my wife" by accident. Once I opened them and began reading, it gave me a voracious and undeniable appetite for all things church history to determine for myself what really happened. As I discovered the differences between the church's doctored and edited version and everyone else's, I quickly saw that the church was protecting its own interests at the expense of lying to millions of people for no reason other than to protect their image and continue taking others' time and money.
This need for evidence and rationality has since convinced me that the Bible is not from God and that if there is some force out there, it is certainly not what any religions describe it to be.
It was clear to me that I had been deceived and for the first time I was able to question what had been as much a part of my life as breathing. Once it entered my brain that the church could possibly be a fabrication, it all fell into place very easily. The church claims the Book of Mormon is the last stand, the one thing testimonies ride on when everything else has been questioned and dismantled, the Book of Mormon stands. Does it though? If most everything BUT the Book of Mormon has been disproven or cast into suspicion, does that rationalize staying in a religion which holds on to the one thing that has yet to be 100% proven false, even though it has its problems as well. So that domino fell too, and there was nothing left to defend the church.
I'm anticipating a transfer to a different university, since I am enrolled at BYU. It's intimidating for sure, but I am convinced it is a folly to devote oneself to a religion wholly and unquestioningly. It is the most important thing to live a life full of love, happiness, and new experiences. If the church doesn't give you those, start running.
Questions I've answered
Finding others who have had the same experience, mainly on the exmormon subreddit. I've also found people on YouTube who are a voice for exmormons and atheists that I quite enjoy. In addition, sharing with those I'm closest with has been a comforting and liberating experience so far. It's been tough to feel alone and out in no-man's land.
It certainly doesn't do anything to prohibit them. And that's the real problem. There is no supervision or oversight for the ludicrous amounts of adult-child interactions, especially between male leaders and young girls. Most are trustworthy enough, but you don't have to look hard to find bad apples and sickos.
The basics of the church's doctrine claims that a boy named Joseph Smith was seeking Christ's church, and during his quest he prayed. God chose him as a prophet to restore and re-establish the church as it had been in Christ's time. Since then, God has given mankind the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price as divine books of truth. After JS, other prophets have followed, and there's one today. The church claims to be Christian and that at the center of all they do is Christ and the family. The doctrine of eternal families and becoming like God/Christ is most people's motivation for joining/staying in the church.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the Mormon Church? Or for that matter, someone interested in leaving the Mormon Church?
The same advice you would give someone thinking of buying a car, a house, etc. Research!! Committing a portion of your time, energy, and MONEY to anything is a big decision. Especially when it comes to religion and a church that demands as much from you as the Mormon church does. So read up on its origins and practice living it before actually accepting baptism, because once you're in it's harder to get out. If it improves your life, then go for it. If it doesn't, please don't join.
Anyone who leaves should do something similar. Compare your life now to a life without the same set of beliefs and practices. Are you happy now? Is it easier to imagine you being happy without the church? Then go for it.