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 stories of '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.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
#Link to this answer of 'What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the Mormon Church? Or for that matter, someone interested in leaving the Mormon Church?' by Andrew 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.
#Link to this answer of 'Are Mormons Christian?' by Andrew Are Mormons Christian? See more answers about 'Are Mormons Christian?'
Well, they believe in Christ as the literal son of the Abrahamic God, that he took upon himself the sins of the world and that through him, humankind is saved. But Mormons believe that it is a combination of both works and grace that is required for salvation, that you have ordinances and required behavior that you must adhere to in order to partake of the grace of Christ (not a Biblical Scholar or expert in Christianity, but it is my understanding that there are some other smaller Christian denominations in other parts of the world that also believe that both works and grace are required for salvation). American mainstream Christians believe that it is grace alone that that is required, that as long as you accept Jesus Christ, then you will be saved, and that belief that works are also required is an abomination. So by the standards of mainstream American Christianity, no, Mormons are not Christians.
#Link to this answer of 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?' by Andrew Are you lazy? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
Would have been far easier to stay in and just go through the motions.
#Link to this answer of 'Do you consider yourself a Christian?' by Andrew Do you consider yourself a Christian? See more answers about 'Do you consider yourself a Christian?'
No, I am an atheist. I don't need a God. I am a carbon based life form made up of material that exists throughout the universe, and that has existed since the big bang. If I need to feel like I am a part of something bigger than this life, or this world, my connection to the universe as a whole is enough for me. Experiencing the good things of this world, the nature, the geography, the art, the literature, the different cultures, the different foods, and trying to leave my little corner of the world a bit better off than it was when I entered, is my religion.
#Link to this answer of 'Does the church encourage leader worship?' by Andrew Does the church encourage leader worship? See more answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
I think the leader worship has significantly increased under Russell M. Nelson. As mentioned in my bio, I had issues with the hero worship back when I was in the MTC in fall 1990. So in my experience, the leader worship has always been there to some extent. But I definitely see a significant increase in the leader worship since Nelson became the president.
As an edit - There is now data that confirms since Nelson has become president of the church, he is mentioned by name in General Conference more than twice as much as any another sitting president of the church has been mentioned in the past 53 years (online church conference talks are only available since 1970, so the analysis did not go earlier than that). So yes, the church has most definitely increased the leader worship since Nelson has become president.
#Link to this answer of 'Does the Mormon church protect sexual predators?' by Andrew Does the Mormon church protect sexual predators? See more answers about 'Does the Mormon church protect sexual predators?'
There are numerous examples of them doing so.
#Link to this answer of 'What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone?' by Andrew What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone? See more answers about 'What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone?'
The church didn't leave me alone for 50+ years. The church has over 50,000 people out at any given time for the purpose of trying to convince others to abandon their faith, cultures, and traditions, and it asks its members to assist in that missionary effort. When the church leaves other people alone, then it can then start to criticize others for not leaving the church alone.
#Link to this answer of 'How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?' by Andrew How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon? See more answers about 'How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?'
I guess I have a hard time understanding what exactly is meant by "spiritual experience". I certainly did not have any experiences where I felt like I connected with a god, or confirmed the church was true. I had experiences that were emotional, or where I felt good. But I had those experiences outside of the church as well, even in instances when I was doing things the church would not approve of. So I guess if by "spiritual experiences", one means emotional or exceptionally happy experiences, I attribute those to just being important or impactful events. But just because some of them happened while at a church event, it does not mean they occurred because of the church, or are confirmation that the church was true, any more than those same type of events that occurred outside of the church were confirmation of the truthfulness of something other than the church.