Hi. I'm Patrick
I grew up in a devout LDS family, served a mission, and spent 45 years as a believing member of the church. When my search for truth caused a faith crisis, my conscience demanded that I leave the church. Though the process was difficult and painful, I have found peace and fullfillment as an ex-mormon that I never had while in the church.
Mormonism is the only religion I have ever known. My faith defined every decision of my life. I dutifully gave 1/10 of any money I ever earned to the church, and I saved money during my whole childhood to pay my way to be a full time missionary for the church during two years in my early 20s. On my mission, I testified that the church is God’s one true church on Earth, that he speaks to the world through living prophets, and that the Book of Mormon is a record of God’s chosen people who came to America hundreds of years before Christ was born. I spent every waking moment on my mission trying to teach and convert people in Honduras and Belize and convinced many to be baptized into the church. After my mission, Julie and I were married in a temple of the church, believing that was the only way we could be together in heaven. We read from the Bible and Book of Mormon multiple times every week with our family and prayed together at least three times a day our entire married life. We taught every aspect of church doctrine to our kids and expected them to live true to the church’s teachings. I willingly made a promise to God that I would give all my time, effort, and anything God asked of me through his church leaders, to build up his kingdom on Earth. I did anything asked of me in the church from being a scout master before my kids were even old enough to be in the program, to teaching youth Sunday school classes for years, to directing the church finances for our local congregation, to helping lead the men’s organization, to visiting the sick and needy. Usually, I had more than one ongoing responsibility in the church and devoted more than a dozen hours per week to church responsibilities.
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On the Mormon Spectrum
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
I gladly sacrificed to live the teachings of the church because I had been taught all my life that Jesus Christ is alive and that he personally leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and no other church on Earth. I believed that Joseph Smith talked to God face to face, that he translated the Book of Mormon, and that he lived and died as God’s chosen servant incapable of leading anyone astray. I believed that current leaders of the church are similarly connected to God and incapable of leading anyone astray. For decades I set aside all doubts, concerns, and questions that arose to challenge my faith, believing that leaders of the church knew better than I did what was right for me and my family. I believed, because I was told so, that the good feelings I felt when contemplating on the beautiful promises of the church were evidence from God that everything I was taught is true.
So what happened? In June 2021 I was trying to understand what I as the father of an LGBTQ child, should be teaching my family about what it means to be a gay child of God. The church teaches that gay people sin if they act on any desires that are not heterosexual. LGBTQ people who can not or will not conform to heterosexual norms are going against God’s plan for them. The only acceptable life for a gay person, according to the church, is lifelong and complete celibacy – they can not act on love, they can not be who they feel they are, they must always be on guard against intimacy in any meaningful relationship. The church teaches that the gender binary is God’s will, and that gender fluid, non-binary, or trans people are confused and their non-binary expressions disrespect Almighty God and bring upon them His displeasure.
Despite my life long indoctrination, I knew this dogma was just wrong through and through. A historical analysis of the church’s position made it clear that they have been wrong for a long time on this and many other social issues. When I finally admitted that the church simply was wrong about many issues, a light started to shine through the cognitive dissonance and thought stopping walls I had built to protect my testimony of the church. I gave myself permission to study all sides and listen to all voices, for and against the church.
That is when I realized why the church vehemently warns members about searching for truth outside of church sources. Under even minimal scrutiny, all of the church’s foundational truth claims crumble. There is easily verifiable evidence that the Book of Mormon is not an ancient text, that Joseph Smith could not translate ancient texts like he claimed, that Joseph Smith led a life of secrecy and deception, that subsequent prophets do not talk with God, and that Jesus Christ is not leading this church. How many of the church’s truth claims need to be disproven to show that the Church is not what it claims to be?
The fact is, the church withholds the whole truth in most if not all corners of its history. It promotes half-truths that serve its agenda, and it uses a mix of beautiful promises, deception, and fear to keep people indoctrinated. Since the beginning of the church, the church’s doctrines have done incalculable harm to the most vulnerable members of society.
Leaving the church was incredibly hard and scary. At times I found myself wishing I were dead, yet I had a new horror of death. I temporarily lost all hope and meaning in my life. I grieved the loss of everything I thought was constant and eternal. I felt angry. I felt stupid. I felt duped. I wondered how much of my life had been a waste of time. I wondered what harm I had done to others on my mission, in my family, among my acquaintances.
With time, introspection, and with the love and advice of wonderful people in my life, my life has taken on beautiful new meaning and urgency. My commitment to being a good person and helping make the world a better place, a commitment that so many members of the church share, has blossomed outside of the stultified confines of the church. It turns out there is a whole beautiful world outside of the church and I am grateful to be finding it. I don’t think I would be where I am now without the beautiful things I have learned from the LGBTQ+ community and for that I will be forever grateful!