I am an airline pilot who enjoys traveling the world. I was a mormon.
I was born in to the church, a descendant of Thomas E. Ricks, who was instrumental in the Mormon settlement of Southeastern Idaho (and the namesake of Ricks College). Although my parents and most of my extended family are from the Mormon concentrated areas of Northern Utah and Southeastern Idaho, I was born on the east coast, and raised in a small New England college town, where my sister and I were the only Mormons in our school. Although my parents were faithful, they were extremely progressive and nuanced Mormons. I like to call them "Mormon Hippies", as they aligned themselves with just about every progressive movement in the 1960s and 70s (civil rights, ERA, etc), and were early believers in the green movements of the 1970s and 1980s. They raised me to be a free thinker, to follow my own path, be a hard worker, and to be loving and accepting.
On my shelf
On the Mormon Spectrum
Why I left More answers about 'Why I left' the mormon church
I so wanted the church to be true. I enjoyed so many aspects of the church when I was growing up: dances and the annual Gold and Green Ball, Super Saturday, Road Shows, 3 and 4 day temple trips to the Washington temple (even got a White House tour back in the days when you just had to wait in line), our annual Winter Carnival. So many great memories.
My first real crisis with church stuff came when I attempted to serve a mission. Was called to serve in Rome, Italy, and entered the MTC in the fall of 1990. I was dismayed at the hero worship of church leadership, the blind obedience to authority, and some of the general weirdness that went on. One example of the weirdness: we had one guy in my MTC district, who was also one of the three other guys I shared a room with, who viewed himself as hyper spiritual and knowledgeable about the scriptures. He was always making grand claims about his spiritual experiences. In the middle of one night, he wakes us all up and claims there is an evil spirit in the room that was trying to kill him. He had us all get up and use our "priesthood power" to command the evil spirit to leave. I went through the motions, but was thinking to my self "what the f....". When everyone else spoke of this, they spoke of it in terms or reverence and awe. I made the mistake of saying I thought the whole thing was kind of bizarre. Oh wow, that really set the entire district off on me. So anyway, I got to wondering why I was never getting these hyper spiritual experiences when everyone else was claiming to get them. I was doing the right things, and I desperately wanted to get them, but never did. All of those things led to me basically having a nervous breakdown in the MTC. So after about five weeks, I went home.
It took me a few years to get myself back to where I felt like I was in a good place with church. I eventually got married in the temple, started a family and a career, and continued my activity in the church. I attended church, kept my temple recommend active, filled my callings, paid tithing, read scriptures, and prayed regularly. But I never got anything that confirmed the church to me. Sure, some things felt good, but I would feel just as good as I did when I was away on a work trip and would go out to eat with co-workers and they would all get a beer or some other alcoholic drink. Why would church feel the same as having a nice time with co-workers who were sinning? Didn't make sense to me. Eventually stuff like this led to me starting to doubt not just the church, but even the existence of God. But I soldiered on with the church, eventually deciding that it didn't really matter if the church was true, or even if God existed, I liked the church and believed it to be good.
But then Prop 8 happened. Being a person who was open and accepting, and who had a few LGBTQ friends, Prop 8 was hard for me to deal with. I could not understand why the church would care about the issue, particularly when most of the people affected were not even Mormons. That was a big weight on my "shelf". But eventually Prop 8 faded in to the background and I continued to live my life, trying to be a good Mormon and raise my kids to strong in the church because I still believed it to be "good", even if I was not sure if it was "true" or even if God existed.
Then one Sunday, someone mentioned the Gospel Topics Essays. I had never heard of these. So after church, I went home and looked them up. These were essays written and published by the church (so they are official) that dealt with many of the messy things in church history. As I looked through the different topics, I realized that I had never even heard of most of the issues, and the ones I had heard of, I was told were anti-Mormon lies. But there they were, essentially an official admission by the church that my church leaders had lied to me. Wow, that hit hard. So I began to read some of them. That was a real eye opener. Then I read the essay about race and the priesthood. I knew this was a touchy and controversial topic, and one I had never fully come to grips with. But at face value, the essay seemed to offer some explanation. But then the very next day, while trying to be a good Mormon Dad and read the scriptures with my kids for their seminary assignment, I read 2 Nephi chapter 5. Wow...the essay claims the disavow any theories that dark skin was a curse from God, but right there, in the "Keystone" of the Mormon church, the "most correct book", was the teaching that dark skin was a curse from God. It was a blatant lie that the church didn't know where the idea came from, and it was a blatant lie the teaching was disavowed, because the seminary assignment had the kids reading it right there in scripture. It was, and still is, a part of Mormon scripture. Well that was the moment my shelf completely collapsed. The church had lied to me about its historical issues, and was flat out deceiving and lying about views on race. So what else was it hiding? What other issues were out there?
I began my deep dive, found the CES Letter, found Mormon Stories, discovered RFM, and many others. The more I read or listened, the worse the church sounded. It soon became apparent to me that not only was the church not "true", it wasn't even remotely "good". It was founded by a power hungry sex predator with a long history of being a con-artist. It holds bigoted and racist views. It caters to right-wing violent extremists. It breeds sexism and misogyny. It protects and enables abusers and predators. It fights against equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It hoards money, exploits tax loopholes, and lies about how its finances are being spent.
There are good people in the church, many good people that I truly love, respect, and care about. But I do not believe the church to be true, and definitely do not believe the church to be good.
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What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the Mormon Church? Or for that matter, someone interested in leaving the Mormon Church? See more answers about 'What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the Mormon Church? Or for that matter, someone interested in leaving the Mormon Church?'
Research the church the same way you would before you make a major purchase. You research a car before you buy it, maybe even take it to your mechanic if it is used. Your bank requires an independent inspection before it will finance your home purchase. People will even read independent reviews before deciding which restaurant to visit or which movie to watch. The church is going to require 10% of your income, and hours of "voluntary" service. Sometimes the hours can exceed 20 hours per week for some of the more high demand callings. 10% of your income can reach well in to the six figures over the course of your lifetime. Put at least as much time looking at independent reviews, or alternate opinions, as you would with any other major life decision. Don't just trust what the missionaries tell you, or make the decision because you felt good once after you prayed, just as you wouldn't blindly trust what the used car salesman tells you after you looked at the first car on the lot.