Hi, I'm Ken.
I'm a convert and served as a Bishop. I was a CES teacher for 27 years. I resigned from both the CES and the church at the same time.
I pressured, begged, pleaded, cajoled my new wife into joining the church in 1970. (Dang!!!)
I taught seminary and institute full time from 1975-2002. I decided to leave after signing a letter of agreement with CES to act as the Institute Director adjacent to Washington State University. I thought teaching full time for the church meant using a scholarly, studious approach to the church's origin story and its doctrine. So I read all I could. Sunstone, Dialogue, BYU Studies, books by Dan Vogel, D. Michael Quinn, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, B.H. Roberts, James E. Talmage, George D. Smith, Richard S. Van Wagoner, Todd Compton and many more.
I just couldn't violate my conscience anymore. Years of study demonstrated "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that Mormonism's leaders had no intention of sharing the truth with the world. They were instead committed to a giant coverup of all historical and doctrinal information that might sully the image of the church.
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On the Mormon Spectrum
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
As a new convert I wanted to become a full time CES professional after graduation from college. After teaching elementary school near Yakima, Washington I worked full time for the LDS Church Education system from 1975-2002. I was a Release-Time Seminary Principal, CES Coordinator, Institute Faculty and an Institute Director.
I worked hard to become a noted defender of the church. I read everything, developed elaborate outlines and notes. I outlined chapters of the scriptures (all of them), with commentary.
The Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders troubled me. How was he able to trick the inspired leaders of the church? He made them look like gullible old men, no more inspired than "normal" people, eager to cover up embarrassing historical truths. They did not resemble god-led-prophets blessed with the gift of discernment. I discussed this incident with CES colleagues but their ad-hoc attempts to justify the prophets' obvious inability to detect evil did not address the fact that they lacked prophetic spiritual gifts.
". . . [M]en are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25), but I was miserable. I kept a journal and had large binders filled with life experiences and personal musings. I read them for inspiration from time to time (my personal Doctrine and Covenants), but all I could find on every page was guilt and feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness. It was a record of a man riddled with angst and shame.
Rather than bore readers with a lengthy list of "what else happened to me," I'd rather list the principles that left me wondering how I could have ever agreed to convert. Since Google and Bing and other search engines bring up instant results, I will not include references. They are easy to find with a quick search.
1. Magical Thinking.
Magic rocks magically showing the translation in English of an ancient text on golden plates, is only one example out of literally dozens that are exemplary of the kind of tall tales members are asked to assent to.
2. Loyalty always trumps Honesty.
I learned when studying and asking sincere questions that swift discipline and warnings came from leaders. They were not remotely interested in the true history and evolving and constantly changing position on "doctrines." Only that the membership would never learn the true history and absurd adjustments to doctrine.
3. Certainty Breeds Intolerance.
Teaching the gullible members (guilty!!!) to preface testimonies with "I know" is not only dishonest, it prompts members to think that they possess some secret and superior access to facts, otherwise unknown to the rest of the world. That's why in Mormon meetings all over the world on any given Sunday demean, criticize, mock and belittle those who believe differently. One of the dirty little secrets is that the "us versus them" mentality thrives among true believing Mormons and manifests itself in ugly, cheap comments about members of other churches and those with no religious affiliation. My entire family outside my wife and children were not members, and 32 years of mocking chirps still ring in my ears.
4. Emotions are Superior to Evidence based Truths.
The Mormon leaders' admonitions to members about why feelings (testimonies) are superior to anything else including facts backed by hard evidence. Searching Mormon conference addresses make this clear. The only exceptions I can remember are a sparse number of accounts by past general authorities who said otherwise, comfortable with their ignorance of science. The overwhelming message from leaders is doubt your (own) doubts and trust your leaders. Because they will never lead you astray.
5. Research About Memories Contradicts Mormon Historical Methods.
The church history I was taught in Institute classes and taught as a full time CES teacher, was based on what this leader or that member said or wrote in their diaries. Sometimes these diary entries were actually written years after the facts they described. Research on memories is clear. We don't remember events as if they were recorded on video or digital images in our brains. Instead, our brains reconstruct memories. And they don't do it very well. A perfect example of this is J Smith's first vision accounts that varied, grew, expanded, and became more grandiose with retelling and dictating over the years. Of course there are so many more examples, but this is one is easy. Smith's desire to seem like a real-live prophet sent by God may have overtaken his desire to remember his experience accurately.
Guilt and Shame are the Most Frequently Used Tools in Leaders Toolkits.
Having a large corporation also acting as a Christian church that is run by lay clergy (from top to bottom), means that they lack a host of personal skills. They are ignorant of methods to help and comfort. And they are told to listen to the Spirit to guide them in offering help to members. This is a recipe for disaster and wrecked lives. They "listen" to their own feelings and give guidance to members. That means every bias, superstition, stupid notion they carry in their own heads, is shared as if God were giving the members answers to their prayers. Rather than list the hundreds of thousands of instances that support that statement, read Ex-Mormon forums to become immersed in tragedy after tragedy. A typical and common place life story is one like this. Young girl/boy is raped, usually repeatedly. Feels guilty. Is warned never to tell anyone. (Secrecy is the tool of abusers) Tells a bishop what happened. Is told never to tell anyone, and that the abuser is a good man and "you need to stop trying to ruin his reputation." Oh, and by the way, you need to apologize to Bro. X for accusing him, heaping humiliation, defeat and shame on innocent people. The victim is sometimes excommunicated or disfellowshipped for confessing to being raped/abused. These stories are abundant, heart breaking, and the damage is immeasurable. Leaders' first loyalty is to defend the church. That's misguided. They are the last people church members should consult with their problems. The spirit does not make a plumber, a farmer, a postal worker, a doctor or anyone else an expert on human interaction and therapeutic intervention.
Greed and Grifting for Money.
Looking back on my gullible, completely committed membership years, I cannot believe I did not listen to my wife. (She is so wise!!!) She could not believe the church would require us to pay ten percent of our income to the church, when we were unable to put food on our table. That's not an exaggeration, we were unable to buy enough food for our family when the car needed a repair, or when some other emergency arose. My starting salary in 1972 was $6300 per year. After tithing, taxes, and living expenses, we frequently did not have enough money to buy the food we needed. We always budgeted for food last because it was something we thought we could cut back on in order to pay tithing and expenses.
Learning that the early church leaders did not require members to calculate tithing the way modern leaders to was startling. Written references and podcasts (sharing those references) make it clear that our tithing should have been calculated on the principle or interest, rather than our gross income. That means we should have made payments on savings, rent, food, gas, car payment, medicine, etc. and after that, calculated 10 percent of what was left over after taking care of family needs.
Instead, some Mormon leaders pretend to quote from the past general authorities, but cherry pick and lift, statements to make it appear that modern leaders and former leaders are sharing the same message about tithing.
Members Sin Better than All Others.
Lurking behind the "all are alike unto Christ" quotations and "God loves all his children" is an assumption by members, and sometimes hinted at by leaders, that "worthy" (hate that word) members are better than "the worldly." After all, members know they are to "live in the world," but not "be of the world." So many members I encountered in and out of the classroom, believe that Mormons are better because they live cleaner and purer lives. Members of the LDS church sin no differently, or no less than those "in the world." One need only read church history to note how often lying to protect the church and its leaders was used as a practical management tool. I started to compile a list of significant (not little ones) lies the church leaders have spread throughout history. I quit at 150 big lies from J Smith to the present. I didn't even include some of the worst ones. Mormon scams perpetrated on members are too numerous to list. They are clear evidence that Mormons are no better than anyone else.
Interviewing young children about their sexuality, questions about masturbation, private sexual practices, without their parents' being present is a tradition in Mormonism. Only now, as more and more publicity about the abominable practice is available, are the public becoming aware. And finally, Mormon believers are letting leaders know that they will not interview their children about sex and will not interview them alone. Mormon members can and should tell Mormon leaders that they have no "spirit of discernment" or "special gifts" or wisdom to offer young people. And that they will not allow leaders to interview children regularly about their sexuality or sexual practices. I cannot believe the Mormon church insists on continuing this unusual and invasive practice.
As Marcus Spears the former Defensive Lineman for the Dallas Cowboys would say, "It's about damn time!!"
As noted earlier, abuse victims sometimes suffer from intolerable treatment from Mormon leaders because of their ignorance and incompetence. Bishops and stake presidents call church headquarters to take direction when abuse victims confess to them. Instead, bishops should be directed to immediately call Child Protective Services and the Police. Church committees at "Headquarters" whose main interest is to protect the church from bad publicity should have no say in these matters. They are fixated on fixing things so the church does not suffer, rather than insuring that the victims find relief and support.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
#Link to this answer of 'How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.?' by Ken Clark How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.? See more answers about 'How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.?'
Four of our five children graduated from Mormonism ahead of us. They set a good example for us.
My wife and I; and the family, are happier than we have ever been.
I have family and many friends who remain devoted to the church, despite my disaffection. I cherish their friendship and the many happy (and funny) memories we created together. I hope they don't pity me.
I love being contacted by former students, friends, ward members, who wonder how me and my family are. I am happy to tell them why I left, but the majority don't want to know. That's okay. Live and let live.
I would say, that I have a deep affection for a great many members I associated with. That does not dim with time.
#Link to this answer of 'Why don't you leave the mormon church alone?' by Ken Clark Why don't you leave the mormon church alone? See more answers about 'Why don't you leave the mormon church alone?'
I was asked this question by someone recently. They were divorced. I reminded them that they still brought up hurts and wrongs committed by their former spouse. Scripture and church leaders compare church covenants to a marriage contract where each side promises to be faithful.
The Mormon Church is not truthful. This deception should not be tolerated by disaffected members anymore than it is tolerated with an unfaithful spouse.
As long as the Church continues to cause harm because of its actions, and since they claim to be "the only true church" with "authority of the true priesthood restored to man" they are opening themselves up to comparisons. For instance, I was a Methodist for the first 20 years of my life. I frequently compared Mormonism to Methodism. In fact, Mormons did that all the time when I was a new member. They couldn't leave Methodism alone. They couldn't leave Catholicism alone either. It was common to hear the Catholics slammed in meetings as being everything but good.
If the Mormon Church wants to be left alone, they would have no converts. So they send missionaries out to the world to bother and interrupt people's lives uninvited. It's a 24/7/365 activity. Why doesn't the Mormon Church and its members stop acting like the victim because people who leave tell the truth about the church?
If you're going to make grand proclamations about how to live your life, and which church is going to bring your more happiness and eventual eternal life, then you have no business asking anyone to leave you alone.
Besides, how funny is it that millions of dollars were spent pushing "I am a Mormon" adds, website, and ads everywhere one year, and then a year or three later, Mormons want us to pretend we didn't see their well-placed, and expensive ads? Not in a million years. Me and my sixth grade friends used to say, "Don't dish it out if you can't take it." Weren't we wise??
I gave a presentation at the 2008 Exmormon Conference which can now be found on Youtube titled "Lying for the Lord": youtube.com/…