Hi, I'm John
I like camping, hiking, fishing, and trail running. I enjoy watching sumo wrestling and rugby. I am a husband, father, good neighbor, and engineer. I was a Mormon.
Fully invested TBM: BIC, active youth in leadership roles, seminary graduate, RM, temple married, YM leader, etc.
I was all in. I wanted to be on the winning team and I was led to believe that I was part of the only true and living church on Earth. Sure things bugged me from time to time but I ignored it or put it on a shelf I didn't yet realize that I had. When I felt conflicted about things in the church like blacks-and-the-priesthood (a big one) I chalked it up to not knowing what god knows and that it would be clear one day. It would all work out in the end because this was the true church.
Why I left
In January of 2018 I was reading a church manual for general edification (haha). I read a passage about Lorenzo Snow that had an ellipsis ( ... ) that I thought might be worth looking into. I was stunned to see that the excluded text was small but very significant. Leaving it out changed the context of the whole section I was reading from. I was confused why the church would do that or feel a need to be deceptive or unethical. I tried to justify it and figured it would be an anomaly. I proceeded to look up other ellipsis in the manuals and look up the full quotes. I found a pattern of twisting words and being deceptive that is blatant dishonesty in my eyes. I wasn't taught to behave that way in my home or in the church so it was very discomforting.
I started reading everything from the church with a more critical eye and found so much shady writing or hiding of the truth that lay just underneath. Context matters and they definitely don't teach that enough in the church. In four months I read and read and read church approved materials and their associated source documents. I realized that I was wrong in using certain rhetoric with my wife when she expressed doubts or issues with past leaders. Although I had kept this reading addiction from her so far, I started apologizing to her for being so naive and under-read.
Over the next two months I was really searching for the silver lining that would save my testimony. I couldn't find it, it only got worse. The church's gospel topics essays sealed the deal. If the priesthood ban was based on the theories of men as they wrote, what else is?
At this point I felt safe to look at "anti-Mormon" material (historical documents and other writings). I knew my stuff now so sniffing out the BS would be straightforward (or at least possible). I found most "anti" stuff to be quite factual. Sure there were exaggerations and some vitriol mixed in but that was discernible.
My conscience burned knowing that I was part of supporting such dishonesty and I couldn't stay. It became really tiresome hearing "it's true" and "I know" statements at church over and over. If the church was "true" then nothing else would matter (thanks, Hinkley). But that isn't the case so there is no sense for me to be supporting a church that oppresses women, minorities, ethnicities/cultures, the lgbtq+ and others based on the theories of past and present leaders.
Questions I've answered
Are Mormons Christian?
In a way. The prophets/leaders get in the way of that. They say things like, " the first law of heaven is obedience" when Jesus taught that the great commandment was to love God and one's neighbor. Primary children chant "Follow the Prophet" and adults sing "Praise to the Man"
Are you still christian?
No. I am open to the idea of a god of sorts existing but the church has left me jaded. I thought I was experiencing things that confirmed a testimony of the church's truthfulness but the good feelings came for things that objectively weren't true.
Does the church encourage leader worship?
Yes. You have to support them to enter the temple.
Does the Mormon church protect sexual predators?
Unfortunately, yes. They could be more transparent and utilize more safeguards to prevent the issue to begin with.
How do you currently feel about your church service?
I told the Bishop that I was going to "take my talents to South Beach." I served while we phased out because I love the members in the ward. We are completely out now and serving the community in other ways.
I regret being so uninformed while serving a mission. I don't regret the service in terms of my growth and development or for the relationships I built.
How long was your struggle?
6 months. I snapped hard. It hurt and I am still going through periods of anger and frustration 1.5 years later. I am still tapped into Mormon news, podcasts, etc but I am considering cutting it all out for my sanity/progress.
What was the response from your ward when you left?
Near radio silence