Hi, I am Fred
I was a mormon. Now I am free to love everyone and be my best self
Full post of mine with links to sources: reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/9xoiht/let_the_records_and_searchable_internet_show_that/
My name is Fred Eaton. I am 32 years old. Up until the end of 2018 I had been a born-in-the-covenant member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for my entire life. I was taken to church as a child, baptized at 8, fully active, paid a full tithe, served a voluntary 2 year mission for the church in Brazil, attended a church university, and lived in statistically the most Mormon town in the world for most of my life. I never drank, smoke, swore, or had premarital sex. Caffeine maybe once or twice. I ended some wonderful, wholesome relationships based on advice in The Miracle of Forgiveness. I met regularly with priesthood leaders to help fight a supposed pornography addiction. I faithfully followed their council. I married in the temple, prayed and studied scripture daily, attended the temple regularly, and lived a fully active, faithful life until around 2013. In 2016 I returned to full activity in the church, then in 2018 resigned from the church, having my name removed, denouncing my membership, baptism, temple ordinances, etc.
In the following paragraphs I will expand the details of the above summary.
Post-Mormons, such as myself, borrow a metaphor from Camilla Kimball, in which she states:
“I’ve always had an inquiring mind. I’m not satisfied just to accept things. I like to follow through and study things out. I learned early to put aside those gospel questions that I couldn’t answer. I had a shelf of things I didn’t understand, but as I’ve grown older and studied and prayed and thought about each problem, one by one I’ve been able to better understand them…I still have some questions on that shelf, but I’ve come to understand so many other things in my life that I’m willing to bide my time for the rest of the answers.”
We continue with it, expounding that there gets to be a point where there are just too many things that cannot be comfortably answered, too much weighing that shelf down, and eventually something comes along that is so offensive to our good senses, something that defies our logic/compassion/feelings/understanding/knowledge more than we can reconcile, and the shelf then breaks.
The first item I can recall putting on my shelf was the church’s stance on LGBT marriage rights. Shortly before my mission certain areas of California had short-lived allowances for gay marriage. Leaders in the church taught how heinous and evil this was. This shelf item would come to weigh heavier after my mission, when the church would fight Proposition 8, violating its stance of non-participation in politics I had been taught all my life. I watched as church leaders in Rexburg taught how the mere existence of the proposition served as a sign of the times, how Satan was quickening his work. Mutual activities were dedicated to stuffing mailers that would inform voters to vote no on the proposition. Why these marriages, that did nothing to hurt the church, were so persecuted by a religion rich with a history of similar persecution was beyond my understanding.
As a missionary I became aware at a surface level of some large problems investigators might have with the church, and came up with some quick responses to such, so I could be ready if they came. Their existence did not hurt my faith in any way. You would be hard challenged to find a missionary more obedient than I was, so strong was my faith. In fact, often my obedience hurt my relations with companions, investigators, and other missionaries.
On my mission the only items I remember placing on my shelf were temple new names not being unique or special but given on a schedule, polygamy, and the fact that prophets are not called by revelation but instead by order of entry into the quorum of the 12.
Throughout all my youth, mission service, temple work, and religious study I received multiple upon multiple confirmations by the Holy Ghost that this church was true. I had palpable feelings, reactions, and convictions. Never did I need lament God not answering my prayers. I prayed often, felt the spirit, let it guide me, and bore witness of it to all who would hear.
I was instructed by my mission president to marry right after I returned home, and that is what I did. Circumstances then led me into the workforce after only one semester at BYU-Idaho. For a few years after I did little beyond work, help raise a family, and work in the church. Eventually after some time I started doing my own personal studies to make up for what I missed in college. It was not an advanced study, just me trying to be an educated person in general.
Since this is an apology, I want to take a moment and state that during this time I followed a political ideology that I now denounce, and any reader who may have heard my positions then, I apologize for that as well. I now find it destructive and hateful.
During this time of education and shifting political views for me, I also had four people, who stand out as individuals I respect deeply, come to their own conclusions that the church wasn’t true. They left the church with their families. Knowing these individuals to be of excellent character and moral fiber, I wanted to understand more the reasons beyond their decisions. They had served as examples to me my entire life.
In a desire to respectfully understand their motivations, I researched them. I participated in the modern-day equivalent of watching their families through the window blinds by googling and facebook-stalking them. Through this I discovered the exmormon subreddit, Mormon Stories, Mormonverse, cesletter.org, Rough Stone Rolling, and others. I skimmed over the information I found. I faithfully never delved too deep…just enough to understand and respect where they were coming from.
But in the end, this put a lot on my shelf. A lot I could not resolve. And any faithful reader at this point will know to point out:
See?! We are warned to stay away from these anti-mormon resources. All they tell are lies! How quickly one of the most faithful fell!
To those readers, I will state: the information I found that disturbed me most was and is all sourced and available through church talks, scriptures, messages, and document scans. Nothing on my shelf was from an anonymous source, but instead from the lord’s anointed.
I found myself asking:
How can the actual text of the Book of Abraham not match what Joseph Smith said he translated it into?
How can God be fine with me disregarding my spouse’s problems with polygamy if I wanted to marry another woman? And despite the church not currently practicing polygamy, why is D&C 132 still doctrine?
How is it OK that Joseph practice polygamy, but publicly deny it? How was it ok for him to wed already-married women and underage girls? If these marriages were dynastic sealings only, how is it ok that he practiced plural marriage before the sealing ordinance was restored?
How was past denial of priesthood to blacks ok, and why does the most perfect book still contain the doctrine that black skin is a curse?
How can so much archaeological proof of other civilizations like Mayan, Incan, and Olmec be found and known, but absolutely none from the vast peoples, cities, or sprawling battles in the Book of Mormon? If the peoples of the Book of Mormon were part of or contemporaries of known civilizations, why is their history in the Book of Mormon so different than their actual recorded and found history? How can absolutely no DNA evidence give validity to the claims in the Book of Mormon?
How can the church teach so much of Christ’s “Love All” teachings, yet be so oppressive towards my wife’s gender, as well as all the wonderful LGBT peoples in the world? And why does what is taught now about women/LGBT match so closely with what was taught of blacks pre-1978, which was overturned? Is there a chance our prophets, that are speaking with authority now about women/LGBT as they did before 1978 about blacks, will soon disavow these prophetic teachings about women/LGBT, much like how they disavowed First Presidency messages/conference talks/doctrine about blacks after 1978?
How can a church, with a history rich with persecution, that only exists because “God prepared a free nation where the church could be established,” employ such oppressive tactics to deny others their own rights of freedom and happiness? And in doing so, go against their own doctrine?
I came to a moment described in To Whom Shall We Go? By Elder M. Russell Ballard where he said:
“Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.”
I had paused on the path. I had no intention of leaving it. I just had to take a spell, breath, and refresh myself. And refresh myself I did. In the end, I had my testimony. I had all my spiritual witnesses. So, I decided to use my strong faith as another support for my shelf. In fact, it became the dust cloth for my shelf. Everything on it was covered over with my faith. I wouldn’t have to look at it.
I could not deny the feelings I had had. In addition to that, I saw the net result of the church as good. Sure, there were some skeletons and unknowns, but in the end my family was happy, the church helps a lot of people, and I had been very happy during my most faithful times in the church. Even if what I had found was true, that the church was founded by a charlatan treasure hunter, that the secession of the prophetic mantle went to a man whose teachings are disavowed by current leaders, that maybe the church isn’t true after all…even if this was the reality, the church as it stands today is a force for good, and persisting in a church that teaches such wonderful things would give us good structure and education.
I continued on the path. I asked for and fulfilled callings. I went to church. I asked to give talks in sacrament meetings. I bore my testimony when possible. I renewed my temple recommend. I was returning, my testimony was strengthening.
And I was happy.
Then one day, a news article popped up on my feed. It covered the infamous mormonleaks.io and a new newsroom post, showing the church’s sexual abuse reporting policy was directly protecting and covering up sexual abuse and the offenders.
One of the many atrocities from that PDF:
The missionary department is reluctant to send this Elder home to [REDACTED] where he may face prosecution for a felony. His conduct is clearly unlawful in [REDACTED] , and his Stake President would have a duty to report. The Elder also recently confessed to kissing and some touching with a 15 year old girl in the mission field.
I took that post along with other public reports to my loved ones. It was then that I learned of how this had happened to people I know and love. I was able to corroborate, and know that the church has an ongoing history of practicing loose regard of sexual abusers, as well as cover up of such atrocities.
Finally, in my privileged eyes I could no longer deny: the net result of the church was bad. My shelf broke. How could I, in good conscience, have my name tied to such an organization? How could my hard-earned wages, my time, my service, my family, and my life go towards an organization that had abused people I love, covered it up, and left those abusers in places of power? How could it do this countless other times?
I finally knew that the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints belittled women and minorities, fought against basic human rights, hurt those seeking comfort, harbored and enabled sexual abusers, and lent to the systematic oppression of anything and anyone that would threaten its doctrine, image, financials, or reach. It continues to teach that those born in this day and in the Mormon corridor are chosen spirits, which is just a positive spin on their existing doctrine that people born in other countries and times are less-worthy spirits. This means my deceased son, my niece, my cousin, my brother-in-law, my friends…many of my loved ones…all are less valiant spirits. That they accepted their “condition” just to be able to come here. What kind of hateful elitism is this?!
Now, I am ashamed. Ashamed that, as a white American male, I have been so privileged that I have not realized all this sooner. I had turned a blind eye, followed indoctrination, believed in teachings that created a systematic culture of abuse, inequality, hatred, suppression, and anti-love. I had to get out. I had to remove all association I held with the church. Since then I have learned so, so much more. The lies seem to never end. And today I stand happy, prouder of myself than I have been in a long time. With a clear conscience, my affiliation with the destructive organization comes to an end. I now disavow the church and its hateful teachings. I do not disavow the members. The indoctrination and deceit are real. And there is much good. But as the church itself taught me, if the ice cream is good, but has a little cockroach in it, just don’t eat it.
Turns out, this ice cream has a little more than a cockroach in it.
You may rightly be asking now “But what of your feelings, your testimony?” To which I will reply: But what of these: youtube.com/… ?
There is so much more I want to share.
For those faithful reading this, know that my exit has brought me so much peace and happiness, despite the difficulties that come with the paradigm shift. I now am free to love everyone as Christ taught, without fear of social stigma or doctrine telling me it is wrong to do so. Nor does that love have addendums, conditions, or secret judgement. I can now denounce my privilege. I can now step aside to help my wife flourish.
I did not resign so I could enjoy the “pleasures of the flesh.” I resigned in hope that my children can now be better people outside of an organization that lets racism, sexism, bigotry, and anti-intellectualism fly under the banner of God. I resigned with hopes that they can be better people than me. Oh, and so they are less likely to be sexually abused, and made to feel guilty while the abuser is protected.
For everyone who reads this, I am sorry. Please help me be a better person as I start my new, post-mormon life. And to anyone with continuing questions or comments, please feel free to reach out 😊