This is a fascinating collection of stories of members of the same family, living in different parts of the US, recently leaving the Mormon Church as posted on exmormon.org. This includes Tavah's story along with her mother, brother, middle sister, oldest sister, daughter and father. Tavah was a Relief Society President just a year ago. Jan. 2006
Subject: Request of Tavah
Date: Jan 09, 2006
On another post I read that most of your TBM family has left the church largely due to the efforts your younger brother and his wife. You also mentioned that just over a year ago, you were serving as a Relief Society president.
I would love to learn more of this story.
Subject: It is a long story...
Date: Jan 09, 2006
well at least a long one to type. I will certainly do my best here. My story intertwines with my sisters, mom and brother of course, but I will allow them to speak for themselves. (And thanks for asking.)
My mom is one of those people who is very intelligent, always studying and learning. She has had to overcome some traumas in her life and learns how to do that by reading and learning everything that resonates with her. She had 5 kids (I'm the middle one). Our Dad was a member but didn't buy into everything the church taught. We were all raised Ubber TBM Mormon. We understood we had ancestors who sacrificed their all for the church...PPP was certainly a favorite. And so we did all the ABCs that the church taught. Boys went on missions, all temple marriages etc... I am married and have 5 kids too.
I was called to be a RS president over 3 years ago. At this time I was learning other things from my mom... We needed some help in working through grief after my little niece's death. We would discuss meditation, and meditation that helps heal other people. It was working for me. I found I had some influence on healing (...the brain and our beliefs are powerful machines.)
We were also learning how we mortals create our own realities through our perceptions, beliefs, and reactions...anyway, it may sound far fetched; but it did give me better understanding that the priesthood really has no special power. I did some study and found that many people from all walks of life and beliefs could do the same thing. (So...therefore God didn't play favorites with religion, or lack of, after all; surprise, surprise.)
My younger brother who was always a very obedient, quiet kid went to college and wanted to study history and started studying church history. Soon he started having some difficult problems with the BofA. We told him all the stuff TBMs would say, but it wasn't good enough for him, of course.
Then his study on evolution made us all nervous. He found that prophets never had made a pointed statement saying that evolution never happened, but it was church approved understanding that evolution was false. Our older bro. got very upset with his "Liberal views" and flat out told him that all these scientists had lied...it didn't seem to deter him any.
We just hoped he'd get his answers, see the light, and get over it. My mom read the book Evolution and Mormonism at his request; and he talked with me about evolution...it was obvious that some things that the church taught wasn't realistic.
I started teaching the sisters in RS that they had control over their own lives, and that God loved all people regardless of religion. They should be true to themselves and allow others to do the same. I started teaching them to focus on their health. I told them that if they were pressed to do more, more, more, they had every right to say NO... and that their worth was constant, it would never decrease, no matter what...
During this time my kind-hearted bishop was reamed over the coals by some visiting GA for not taking notes at some meeting we had. My bishop showed him the printout we all had on new members, hence, no note-taking was needed. The GA snarled that it wasn't good enough. Also, our situation here is much different than in Utah but he didn't care about that either. He was sweet as goo to us sisters, but then turned snarling-fierce on our bishop. That clued me in. Evil speaking wasn't my problem, it was this egotistical GA's problem. I had no respect for him and didn't even feel guilty.
I finished my calling after 2 1/2 yrs. as we were moving. Last May I became aware of the DNA issue through my younger sister. Some of my family learned of it but they were really hesitant to tell me about it. I wasn't even shocked when I was told. My own understanding had come to a point that I knew the church wasn't teaching things that were true, and they were reinforcing things I already knew was downright false. My mom recommended the book "An Insider's View.." She had finally agreed to read it for my brother who wanted her to know where he was coming from and why. I told my DH that I was ordering it too because I needed to know what the history of the church was. It had been my whole life and I needed to know more than the grade-school version I got in church.
I read it, then I ordered a whole bunch more historical books, and read them. My sisters and their husbands both quickly left the church, then my parents did. (They each had their own personal reasons for doing so.)
I am getting out, but unlike them, my spouse is still TBM. My brother and his wife want out too, but they want to go together. She is worried, with good reason, how her family will react. I was told by my new bishop to turn in my temple recommend when I told him about the DNA issues and told him some of the other concerns I had. I expected that. It was a relief to know I would never have the means to go back to the temple again. Knowing what it was made up for, garments, polygamy, etc. just gave me the creeps.
I am now reaching the point where I have to tell some people (briefly) how I believe. I know I will lose friends over it, but I feel that out of respect for them that I need to let them know especially since they never see me in church anymore. It's a touchy thing especially with my kids and their friends... but to get them out is worth it.
Subject: Re: Request of Tavah (the
older sister writes)
Date: Jan 09 20:30
Hi, I'm the older sister of Tavah and left during the same time when an accumulation of events took place for me too. I mentioned before how a Dr Phil show concerned me but there is so much more to the story. The idea of investigating the church really hit when my Mother called me one night and mentioned Palmer's book and all of the trouble it was getting the author into.
I looked the book up on Amazon.com and was shocked to see that I had seen that book at the church book store and passed it by a couple of years ago. Somehow soon after that, I found myself browsing at Barnes and Nobel and decided to spend $26.00 for it. My reasoning was that if there was something that was causing so much trouble there had to be a reason controversial or not, I had to know what it was all about. Mom had mentioned earlier in our conversation that there was no DNA evidence to support the theory of Lamanites. I went to the Smithsonian web site and saw a sign in big letters something to the effect of "Sorry Mormons, there is no archeological evidence of the Book Of Mormon on the American continent." Wow!
That in itself spelled "freedom" to me because my DH was a lamanite and was cursed with some invisible curse and could never live it down in the family. I was determined to get to the bottom of all the troubles it was causing our otherwise happy union.
Thankfully, after reading that book it put an end to my misery and bondage to the church and my Dh cried because he was worried that I was too quick. He had been the one to want to leave the church ever since he thought it was a fraud (Mark Hoffman fiasco) but I wouldn't deny my testimony.
Now I was turning and running the other direction so soon! I threw away all my garments and books and scriptures and the youth heard about it all within the moment because our girls were talking to their friends on their emails as I was doing it. They thought I was going crazy. As soon as we met with our bishop, (on DH's insistence), I told him that I will never wear my G's again and want nothing to do with the Temple. He requested my Temple recommend and I gladly gave it to him. DH handed his too, but he was still wearing his G's and hadn't read Palmer's book yet. "I don't need your TR," the Bishop said.
"If and when I need it I'll just ask you to give it back, for now, I don't have a need for it while my wife is investigating her faith."
DH read most of Palmer's book, then put it down and walked away and has no need to look back as of yet. He does have a TBM family who are some OK with it and some who are not.
We showed the book to our (then) 18yr old daughter, who gladly resigned with us and our 15yr old. We told our sons ages 20 and 23 and the 23 yr old bought the book but hasn't been active ever since he graduated from HS and the 20 yr old could care less he'd rather be a rock star and hasn't gone to church since before he graduated from HS. My 20 yr old told me about alot of the websites I could access for historical info and pointed me to this website. My younger brother mentioned it to my Mother and she told me too. Dad has been trying to get our oldest brother to look at things objectively but he won't.
When I told my Grandmother that I had resigned along with our kids and Hubby, she said she knew the church was not true and has been going only because one of her daughters takes her now and then. Most of all our Aunts and Uncles are out from many years ago and only two of Grandmas kids are still as TBM as they come, but our Mom is now not one of them as recent as this last year.
Subject: I'm #4 in the family....
Date: Jan 09 22:59
and I was the first one in my family to resign from the church in June of 2005. (DH [husband] resigned with me.) It all really started for me when my daughter died at the age of six from a very rare brain tumor in 1999. She had Priesthood blessings but no one had the "faith" to bless her to be healed, and our Stake Pres. told us to prepare for her death. To me it was the beginning of a lot of questions. If the priesthood had really been restored, why could she not be healed? Jesus could have healed her. I prayed a lot about this. Perhaps part of the reason it was her time to go was to open my eyes to the truth. If she had been healed, I would have unquestioningly believed in the church all the rest of my days. As it was, when she passed I began to really question everything. Was there really such a thing as Heaven? Is there really life after death? I questioned things I had never thought I would ever question.
I read many books on Near Death Experiences and another book called "Hello From Heaven". In that book people from all walks of life recounted experiences of being contacted by a deceased loved one. There were several stories of gay people being contacted by their deceased partners. I began to really think about that. These people weren't "sealed" to each other! I started questioning the power of a sealing, and started doubting.
There's a lot more to my story, but basically the curtain of ignorance began to fall when my mother told me that the "Lamanites" were from Asia and Siberia. I'm a believer in science and DNA and that really caught my attention. She was reading Palmer's book and suggested I read it too. I was reluctant for some time, perhaps a month or so, but then decided that if the church was really true what would it hurt to read ANY book? So I bought it and read it, and my husband read it after me. He said he'd never had a testimony of the BOM, ever. He had been less active at different times in our marriage (we were married in the temple). Our daughter's death had him questioning a lot of things too.
I did some research online about the origins of temple ceremonies and garments and polygamy. It really sickened me what I found and I threw my garments away. It happened so fast that I went from being in this little "box" where everything was familiar and known and comfortable to suddenly the lid being lifted and I literally saw everything through new eyes. Within a matter of days I knew the church was NOT true. I could see it clearly for the first time. Once that happens, there's no going back.
I went to the Bishop and told him about the DNA findings. He had never heard about it. He told me God had changed the Lamanites DNA to Asian DNA when he changed their skin. He didn't know who FARMS and FAIR were, and I had already read their arguments and knew they weren't saying what my Bishop was saying. A day later he came to our home and took our temple recommends and asked for my teaching manual for the 13 yr. old Sunday School class. (I had never taught anything that wasn't in the manual.) He was rude and said, "You've cut your anchor, expect your family to drift." I replied, "My anchor is Christ, not Joseph Smith. I have not cut my anchor." He didn't say anything to that.
Subject: Re: Request of Tavah
Date: Jan 10 08:20
It's amazing how everything happened for all of us around the same time. I guess the death of our little angel affected us all in some way especially "yelloflwrz" and our Parents and Tavah. They all went to see her in Tennessee which was far away from where we lived. The child wanted most of all to visit her Grandmother and pet the cat and jump on the trampoline...but she was too ill. When you know the truth about death, it is so much more comforting than what the church teaches. All can be together and no one has to be "worthy" for it.
Subject: Hopefully I can get our mom and brother
Date: Jan 10 10:35
to add to this. He's pretty busy in school, but I'd love to have their perspective added here.
Our mom has always loved personal freedom, and allowed us to have the same. I wish that for everyone.
It does help to have a 'community' here as we're living quite a distance from each other. It's hard to lose close relationships over this religion. Thanks to all here for your support as well.
Date: Jan 10 12:07
Maybe this will give you [readers] some added hope as well. I can honestly say that a year ago I would have never imagined or believed that I would leave the church! I was truly a "TBM". Even though I had some questions about things, I felt that my "problems" with the church were ALL MY FAULT... that my faith wasn't strong enough, etc. It's so refreshing and FREEING to know that it wasn't ME with the problems.
I am a lot less judgmental of people since I left. You men who have Uber TBM wives are going through very difficult things, and my heart goes out to you and your families. I know to some extent what your wives feel. My DH was inactive at different times in our marriage as I mentioned above, and I got so angry with him for "messing things up" for our eternal happiness. When you believe that you can't have your little children with you in the next life if your husband doesn't "tow the line" so to speak, it puts real fear in your heart like nothing else does, and can cause some pretty strong emotions to come to surface. Your wives, because they believe, are under the control of the power of TSCC. It's very sad to see how it can tear families up.
This site has been a great help to me. I feel pretty alone here where I live, although I do have two friends who were, believe it not, my Visiting Teacher's and are both now out or on their way out of the church. (Not because of me.) Our family is very spread out geographically. Leaving the church has been good, but it's also been a lonely journey in many respects. I lost a lot of "friends" when I left. I admire all of you who have left WITHOUT the support of family. I can't imagine how difficult it must be. For those of you who can't leave TSCC because your wives have threatened divorce, my heart truly goes out to you.
Subject: Here's my story. It's long.
Date: Jan 10, 2006
A year ago, I would never have imagined that I would be out of the church. I want to explain, as best I can, just a few of the things that happened to get me to this place. It was a "gut-wrenching" decision in many ways; because I knew that some relationships within the family would probably not survive, and that grieves me that relationships are affected in such a way by one's choice of religion; this shouldn't be.
In August 2005, my husband and I wrote a letter to our bishop, with our temple recommends enclosed, along with a copy of the letter we sent to church headquarters resigning from the Mormon Church. We told the bishop that we had not been offended, nor did we have any moral problems. And it wasn't because we had "lost the spirit". Of course, we could have chosen to remain in the church and just go inactive, but we felt to be true to ourselves and honest with others, it was best to leave as we no longer believed that Joseph Smith was what the church represents him to be; we no longer believed that the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates by the power of God, but, rather is a product of Joseph Smith, the same conclusion that B.H. Roberts seems to have had after studying the book extensively (see Studies of the Book of Mormon by B.H. Roberts).
I will try to explain how I came to be where I am now. In June of 1999, I watched as my granddaughter died at age 6 1/2. She died of a brain tumor; and it took her 3 months from the time she was diagnosed to leave us. This experience, I cannot describe, but I will say that after she died, I was in a different place. It was during the grief and sorrow and recovery period (which lasted several years), that I felt the Love of God, and, at times, it was an all encompassing, beautiful, peaceful and healing Love, which I felt from God not only for myself but for all of his children, equally loved as I was. I was able to see that God is no respecter of persons; He loves all of his children completely; and we each have the same ability to love as He does, because we are His. I could see that with God there is no hierarchy of power; we all have equal and complete power to love, the only real power in the universe. In my opinion, the hierarchy of power on this earth was set up by men because men aren't using, or don't know how to use, the ability they have within given them by God to love others, but instead, seek to gain power to dominate and control others through the means of religion, as well as in other ways; using discrimination based on race, sex, culture, etc.
During the six and a half years since Meagan died, I have read many books. One book that made an impression on me is Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., and if you will bear with me for awhile, I'd like to tell you a little about this book. Dr. Hawkins talks about "Levels of Human Consciousness". The different levels are indicated by the "energy"; the lowest energy level being "Shame" at an energy level of 20; the highest being "Enlightenment" at 700-1000. The energy level of "Fear" is 100; of "Pride" 175. "Pride" is the level aspired to by the majority of society today; people feel "good" when they reach this level because they feel positive and experience a rise of self esteem. However, Pride feels good only in contrast with the lower levels of "Guilt", "Apathy", "Grief", "Fear", "Desire", and "Anger." Pride is divisive and gives rise to factionalism. The downside of Pride is arrogance and denial.
The energy level at 200 is "Courage"; the zone of exploration, accomplishment, fortitude, and determination. Courage is the willingness to try new things and deal with changes and challenges of life. Growth and education make it possible for people to put back into the world as much energy as they take. "Neutrality" has an energy level of 250. At this level people are able to see a world that is not black and white and rigid. The neutral condition allows for flexibility and nonjudgmental, realistic appraisal. The person at this level is relatively unattached to outcomes, has a sense of well being, not interested in conflict, competition, or guilt. With a nonjudgmental attitude, people do not seek to control other people's behaviors; they also value freedom. The energy level at 310 is "Willingness"; people at this level, having let go of Pride, are willing to look at their defects and learn from others. Energy level 350 is "Acceptance"--at this level one realizes that he/she is the source and creator of his/her own life. People at levels below 200 tend to see themselves as "victims"; while at this more evolved stage, "nothing 'out there' has the capacity to make one happy, and love isn't something that's given or taken away by another, but is created from within." A person at the level of "Acceptance" isn't interested in determining what's right or wrong, is not polarized by conflict or opposition, and is "inclusive" rather than "exclusive". The energy level of "Reason" is 400; the energy level of "Love" is 500; the energy level of "Joy" is 540; and "Peace" 600. Well, I wanted to be on the level of Love; and I knew I wasn't.
After Meagan died, I slid, little by little, into a depression. Every morning I would wake up with this horrible feeling, as though I was "not good enough"; that I essentially had no worth; and no matter what I would do, or how hard I would try, or how well I did my callings in the church, or how often I went to the temple, I had that feeling with me. I had one particularly bad year about two years ago with not only the depression as a constant companion, but I became ill. I developed a cough that wouldn't go away. I felt that I was going to die from this cough if I didn't get over it. (Most of this time, I was teaching in Primary because they wouldn't release me!) I am an analytical person, and I wanted to get to the bottom of why I was so physically ill, because I have always before and since been healthy, and physical health is very, very important to me because I believe that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all connected. So I started analyzing this darkness I found myself in, but I couldn't figure it out on my own, no matter how hard I tried. I've always prayed, but this particularly bad year, I prayed and prayed and prayed, and this was my prayer: "Heavenly Father, Please help me to feel that I am of worth." I felt I couldn't live without feeling that I was of worth. I contemplated suicide, but I still had enough sense about me to know that wasn't the best solution to all of this because I wanted to know in the here and now. Well, my prayers were answered through a series of events, and this is how it happened.
My daughter (Yellowflwrz), who had lost her little daughter, and who lived in Tennessee at this time, told me about a woman friend of hers in Alabama who did Theta healings, even distant healings. She and a couple of other women (all Mormons), some who did Rapid Eye therapy, and Reiki, would get together weekly and do healings for people. (I will say here that I was quite amazed that they would be allowed to do these types of healings, and still be Mormons, but their bishop approved of it and knew of what they were doing--I knew that they could not do these healings with the approval of the bishop if they lived here in SW Idaho). I asked if they could help me with my lung problem. I found out that the lungs are the place of grief in our bodies, and this made sense. I was absolutely filled with grief at this time. They did the healings; the cough went away, my health came back, my depression left! But there was advice to me to get some more Rapid Eye treatments to get to the root of the problem, or the lung condition could come back. I found a RET technician in my area, and I eventually had 10 or more sessions of Rapid Eye therapy. In one particular session, I had cleared out of my belief systems, all old beliefs that no longer served my best and highest good; this included: brainwashing, thought control, in my DNA, old superstitions from ancestors, and that sort of thing. After this session, I felt a great weight lifted from me; it was a wonderful feeling.
From the classes in conjunction with the RET therapy sessions that my husband (who also had several RET sessions) and I took, books were recommended, and I would buy every book that I felt was for me to read. I will include, at the end of my story, a list of books that I read.
My husband had an experience sometime this summer, which he told me about, and it was this: He was in that period of time on first awakening, between wakefulness and sleep. He said that words came into his mind, and they were slow, with a pause between each word. The words said, "God...believes...in...us...His children." So then he thought, "But we are supposed to believe in God." Then the thought came to him that it is much more important that God believes in us, than it is for us to believe in God. Then, he thought, as all of us who have had children know, there comes a time when our children don't always believe in us or what we tell them. This does not stop us from loving them just as much as we ever had. And then, he thought that God is greater, has much more knowledge and understanding of us than we have of our own children, and He is not threatened because we may not believe in Him. My husband said that he now knows that God is Love; therefore, He did not create His children for the purpose of punishment. The prophets of the Old Testament were mortals with all of their human biases, frailties and prejudices intact. Thus, they wrote their perceptions of God down through the eyes of human frailty.
I will tell you that I was born into the Mormon Church; my father was probably a religious fanatic (but I loved him very much, and still do, and I know he did the best he knew with the knowledge that he had at the time, and I can't bear to think what my life would have been like without him). His great hero was Joseph Smith, and next to that, Parley P. Pratt, his great grandfather; and then followed all of the church general authorities, and such. My poor mother wasn't too happy in the marriage, because her purpose, of course, was to have all the children she could have. Being a woman who didn't much care for housework, or being tied down, nor for that matter, was she an especially nurturing mother; nonetheless, my dad had the power, and the authority and the priesthood, and what could she do? 10 years younger than he was, married when she was 17, and afraid to speak up and express herself, so she resigned herself to the life she was given, but not without a lot of murmuring! She had 11 children, and I was the 3rd. We lived on a dairy farm, and church and school were the bright lights in my life.
When I was 15, I was sent to S. California to live with an aunt and uncle and be a nanny and mother's helper, taking care of their three kids. I did my senior year of high school at Huntington Beach High School. I met my husband in Long Beach; he was serving in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, and we were married in 1957. One of the things I told him was that I didn't want him to be a religious fanatic. Well, I found out later that there was no chance in that, and he did promise to listen to the missionary discussions, and was baptized a month after we got married.
Then my TBM programming set in! My poor husband found he was married to a religious fanatic, or nearly so. I was very perfectionistic, very earnest in my desires to live the perfect Mormon life. Our two oldest kids suffered from my strict, perfectionistic, child rearing methods. (wjd can attest to this). Our oldest son is very TBM, with lots of programming from me, and has been quite taken aback by what is happening in our family. All of our children were married in the temple; our two sons served missions, our oldest son to Italy, and our youngest son to Bolivia. Our oldest son graduated from BYU, and our youngest son is currently in dental school.
We went through the temple in 1962. I can say that the ceremony was a shock to me; but I was so obedient to church teachings and policies, that I didn't question anything. However, I always thought the requirement to wear garments was an infringement on my privacy and personal rights. I love ballet, and always have loved the freedom of movement and, in short, I have always loved my body. The garments were not attractive.
I served in many callings over the years, including Gospel Doctrine class teacher, Relief Society president, and mostly teaching every class from the youth to primary age. I loved teaching, studied much to make my lessons interesting and informative, always wanting to learn something myself and have my classes learn, too. Learning is so important to me. I was able to graduate from a University, finally, when I was 47 years old, after taking classes when I could, and working part time to be able to pay for them.
But, over the last 30 years or so the Mormon religion became, to me, much like a grade school level course, with the same subjects presented over and over again, and it was hard for me to make myself want to go and sit through another repetitious, dull, dumbing-down class, or hear another talk given by someone who has been told what they can or cannot talk about, usually a re-reading of a Conference talk which I had already heard, and read. Teaching became a severe trial to me, as the materials on a very elementary level; and I was admonished to follow the manuals, which I did until I could no longer stand the dullness of it all, and stopped teaching just before we left the church. I never taught anything contrary to the lessons; just added interesting material from other sources, supporting the main messages in the lessons. The fear that seems to exist in the church of exploration and discussion of ideas was exasperating, to say the least. And when, after reading the Book of Mormon 11 times, was asked to read it again, and again, I could only come to the feeling that I had finished this level and needed to move on. I could see that there was something beyond Mormonism, and I could see clearly, I was ready to graduate!
I am also an artist; and the need to be free to create from my own unique and creative powers was very important to me.
Of course, it's scary to leave the security of a "known" place and go into an "unknown" place! But in order for one to move to another energy level, one must make choices, without knowing beforehand what the result may be. But, I believe that we are here to learn and make choices. I know things won't always be easy, but nothing worth having or doing comes easy. I could see no way to progress beyond a certain place, being a woman, in the Mormon scheme of things. I needed freedom to read, to study, to think, to pursue my talents and to find out, indeed, who I am. The Mormon Church binds its members down--their time, their energy, their money, their interests, their talents, their loyalties, indeed, everything which they possess--all bound to the Mormon Church. Mormons are told what they can or cannot read, what they can or cannot say in a class discussion. Now, I find that ridiculous. While the Mormon children are taught to "follow the prophet"--other churches are teaching their children to "follow Jesus". Think about it!
I have learned some things in the five months since I've been out of the Mormon Church; first and foremost, that everyone is equal in the sight of God; all have access to the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Light of Christ (whatever you want to call it, it's all the same thing) that "God" within us--anytime we want or need or ask for it--it's already in us; it's a part of our being, each one of us! I have learned that there are many caring, dedicated, loving people in other churches; dedicated and trained leadership, seeking to help people, and giving service to the community, concern for the less fortunate, and with an inclusive attitude--all are welcome, no distinctions made, men, women, black, white, all are equal. Just to give an example, we attended a church before Christmas that was giving ALL of the money collected from the collection plates for the weeks before Christmas for the shelter and feeding of the homeless. We like the feeling that we can give money to help people.
My husband's reasons for leaving the church are based more on doctrinal problems (which I won't go into here extensively), concerning the DNA testing of the Native Americans; the temple ceremony, an almost exact copy of the Masonic ceremony; the Book of Abraham; and probably most importantly, for both of us, the issue of plural marriage, which is still going on in the temples; the many changes in the Book of Mormon, changes in the story of the first vision, and other issues, as well as the pathetic and obfuscatory explanations from FARMS on these subjects.
Recently, I read a book, E=mc2 by David Bodanis. I found it interesting that Einstein's teachers were not too happy with him because he lacked "obedience". Here's something I'll quote from the book:
"Everyone thought that nothing connected the two realms (energy and mass). This is what Einstein was taught...Einstein later proved his teachers wrong, but not in the way one might expect. It is common to think of science as building up gradually from what came before... But this incremental approach does not work with deep problems....Einstein...seemed to abandon mass and energy entirely, and began to focus on what appeared to be an unrelated topic. He began to look at the speed of light."
The reason I mention this, is that I've been thinking of the Mormon Church and how strongly members are discouraged from searching, studying, inquiring, learning, questioning, and "obedience" is just the most important of doctrines to them--well, what kind of people are they "creating"? Also, members are so loaded down with responsibilities, stress, missionary work, reading the Book of Mormon, etc., what time do they have to read and pursue other interests?
Mormons are not allowed, within their strict religious views, to think outside the box, like Einstein felt free to do. When we are taught to believe that things must follow from what has been built up before (priesthood authority, doctrines, etc.), we are prevented from discovering ideas and truths, but must tread the same, old beaten path.
I say, Thank God for scientists and others who were free to think and study and experiment. Mormons seem to be denied this opportunity, in my opinion. As long as a person is obedient, and believes that the thinking has already been done, the creativity and development of that person is squelched.
I believe that there are many good people in all churches, and that all churches can and do much good. I believe we should all work together to make the world a better place. I do not believe that any one church is The True Church; I think churches are designed to help us with our lives, and to provide community for people. I believe that when one religion sets itself up as the only True church, it causes a lot of problems in the world. It's like one person saying to others, "I am better than you are!" I believe, as Thomas Mellen Benedict said in his Near Death Experience when he asked God, "'What is the best religion on the planet? Which one is right?' and Godhead said with great love, 'I don't care'." Thomas Mellen Benedict went on to say, "That was incredible grace. . .The ultimate Godhead of all the stars tells us: 'It does not matter what religion you are.' They come and they go, they change. .Everyone thinks they own God, the religions and philosophies, especially the religions, because they form big organizations around the philosophy."
I just read something this morning in the February '06 "Good Housekeeping" magazine, page 140. It was in an article about weight loss, and I thought this could be applied to my feelings about the Mormon Church and getting the strength to leave it. Here are the parts that jumped out at me: (I'm quoting from the article here, with my comments in parenthesis): "....weight loss (leaving the church) is really about self esteem." "The number one thing you need to understand is this--you are worthy of a better life." "To change, you've got to feel these three words: 'I deserve this.'" "You're not going to get anywhere, long term, until you say to yourself, 'Hey, I'm not a bad person, and I really do deserve this.' The people who succeed at losing weight (anything in life) ...have said to themselves, 'I am worthy of whatever I am seeking.'"
This journey hasn't been easy; there are times when I cry a lot; I have fears; I think the hardest thing is to know pretty much what members of my ward are now saying and thinking about me (we've lived here for 25 years). No one likes to be looked down on, especially when I was respected and looked up to by some, I think! It's hard for me to know that there are some competitive people who are feeling a little more self important and self righteous because of our leaving!! (We didn't endure to the end!) I'm competitive, too! I experienced those feelings when I was a TBM. I know them well.
I must thank those who have helped me on my journey. First of all God for answering my prayers! I feel the presence of a Loving God that is why I'm able to go forward from here. I feel that God, the Universe, the Creator, Loves us all with a Love we can't even comprehend. Then, I am grateful for my wonderful, beautiful, intelligent children, each of whom enriches my life more than they know. By the way, I have found out when all the kids grow up, get married, and move out of state, have their own children, and their own lives--the concept of families are forever really changes. I believe the only power that binds us together is LOVE!! The best thing that I could do for my children is to get a full and interesting life for myself, and build the relationship with their father, so we can always be here to encourage them in the things they desire to do in their lives, and send out love to them as they make choices and learn the things they came here to learn.
Also, thanks so much to the wonderful people who share their stories and their journeys on the exmormon web site, and also on the zarahemlacitylimits site, and other sites that have helped me; many of your stories bring me to tears; I can identify with so much of what you say. I am a lot older than most of you, but I can relate to your situations! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to post my story. I hope, in some way, it may help others who are wanting to move on in their lives.
Here are some of the books which helped me the most:
Wayne Dyer's books: Wisdom of the Ages; The Power of Intention; and There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem; also his CD "Meditation for Manifesting", which I use almost daily.
Deepak Chopra's books: most recently read The Book of Secrets
Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins
The Ascent of Man by Bronowski
A Course in Miracles from the Foundation of Inner Peace (still not finished with this one)
Evolution and Mormonism by Stephens & Meldrum
An Insider's View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer
The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus by Charles Larson
In Sacred Loneliness by Todd Compton
Losing a Lost Tribe by Simon Southerton
An Intimate Chronicle - Journals of William Clayton
The Pattern of the Double Bind by Marion Stricker
E=mc2 by David Bodanis
Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson
Subject: Re: Request of Tavah
Date: Jan 10 17:32
Here's something else I want to say. When my father died, I inherited his volumes of History of the Church, the ones dated in the very early 1900's, and some of the statements made by Joseph Smith near the end of his life were a contributing part of my journey out of the church. Also, I have the full 26 volume set of Journal of Discourses, the "exact photo reprint" of the original 1854 edition. Many very interesting things in there, also helped. And this may sound strange to some, but I believe that my father, wherever he is, approves of what is happening in my family.
Subject: Re: Request of Tavah
Date: Jan 10 17:41
I can testify to that. I think Grandpa very much approves well beyond the grave!
Subject: Request of Tavah (the
oldest daughter writes)
Date: Jan 10 18:51
I am the oldest daughter of wjd and I want to share my story as to why I left the church.
I never once thought that I would leave the church or even suspect anything wrong with its teachings. Around the age of 14, I had a wonderful friend (who wasn't in the church) try to tell me things about jo smith. Her father, by the way, left the church in his youth. I broke off our friendship because I was standing up for what I thought was the "true prophet". The things she said, though, seemed to linger in my head, and I was always curious as to why she thought of him as a "devil worshipper" and a "liar". For some years after that, I pushed those thoughts away, because I thought I was evil for thinking them. During my senior year in HS, I was one of the seminary class presidents (I worked closely with the other president who was your typical "cocky" mormon boy). I noticed that no matter what I said in the seminary meetings, the seminary teacher always went with the other guy's ideas. I did everything that year, and the other president did nothing...He just sat on his butt and took all the glory from my hard work. I noticed that it wasn't fair, and I tried to complain about it, but, nobody heard me. That's when I realized there was something wrong with the way the church treats it's members. Everyone knows that, but it took me time to realize it. After graduation I was called to be the CTR 5 class teacher. During that time, my parents came up to me with that book "An Insider's Views of Mormon Origins". They told my sister and I that they read it and wanted us to read it if we wanted to. I was very curious about it, since I found out that the strongest people in the church in my family were now leaving. One day, as I was getting ready for bed, I took the book and read most of it. I felt as if a huge load was lifted from my shoulders. I wanted to know more, and went onto the internet and looked things up. I knew this had to be the truth. I am so glad that I found this all out before college, serious dating, and marriage. Now, I can go to a regular college without feeling like my "future spouse" is wating for me in BYU/ BYU-I and I can date who I want to date without feeling like I have to find someone who is "temple worthy". Best of all, I don't have to marry in the temple and wear those horrible garments for the rest of my life! Life is great for me and my family and I wouldn't change it for the world!
Subject: Question regarding lung and other ailments
Date: Jan 10 19:33
My son is in the medical sciences, and he probably wouldn't agree with what I said, and neither would wjd's husband, probably, as he is a medical doctor. I am speaking more from a metaphysical perspective, if you will. I will give some references from books: Heal Your Body by Louise L. Hey, which is a book on "The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them"; p. 48, where problems in the lungs (the ability to take in life) are listed as: Depression. Grief. Fear of taking in life. Not feeling worthy to live life fully."
Also, Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, Ph.D., where in the "Energy Anatomy" the chakras (energy sites of the body) are discussed, chakra 4, which includes the lungs, is concerned with the issues of, among others, "grief and anger" (p. 98-99); and Feelings Buried Alive Never Die..., by Karol K. Truman, on page 248, in the section, "Probable Feelings Causing Ill-ness", under "Lungs" are listed, "Feelings of grief", among others; and in the book, Go Up and Work With God by Vianna Stibal, on page 120, under "Lungs" she says, "The lungs are responsible for feelings such as grief and sorrow. Anything correlated or associated with the lungs has to do with great sorrow, pain, and fear. All fear breeds sorrow."
Subject: more from our family (long)
(the youngest brother)
Date: Jan 10 19:59
Author: Little brother
Hi all, I'm the youngest brother some of my family have mentioned. I've enjoyed reading their stories and am glad to see that they've been helpful to others. I hope my comments are helpful as well.
I think my doubts began on my mission (I served in South America). I had several experiences that I was able to suppress at the time, but which nonetheless began to put a lot of strain on my testimony.
I remember one time when a crippled beggar woman came up to me and asked for money, and my zone leader who was nearby told me "don't give her anything. It's against mission rules." So I didn't. And neither did any of the 6 missionaries with us. I guess it was the obedient, "righteous" thing to do, but it seemed wrong on a level that was way more important to me than the mission rules.
I found out later that the woman was from a group of native people whose farms had been decimated by years of drought, and had come to the city looking for work. I remember her hands; they were gnarled and swlllen and she was missing some fingers. I think she either had leprosy or severe Rheumatoid arthritis.
I later served in the mission offices and saw firsthand some major Mormon corruption--from area authorities (one of whom I helped get exed), to A.P.s, to G.A.s. Since I had always been taught to follow these people unconditionally (even if they tell you to do something that is wrong you should do it because you'll be blessed for obedience), it bothered me to learn that many of them had less integrity than some of the "investigators" I was teaching; that the people God was sending to this country were in many instances less honest that those he was sending them to save. I guess a TBM might (would) say "well the members aren't perfect..." and while I would HEARTILY agree, this reasoning does nothing to lessen the psychological impact these experiences had on my trust in church leadership. It bothered me, but I tucked it away.
I began college just days after returning from my mission, and that was where the real fun began. I remember sitting in the school library during my first semester of freshman year studying, looking up, and seeing shelves of books about Mormonism. Hmmm, interesting. I think the first one I picked up was by the Tanners. I flipped through a few pages, read the table of contents, and put it back on the shelf. Though I didn't give it much thought at the time, it was enough to make me aware that there were other interpretations out there. But I tucked it away.
As I looked for a wife freshman year, I really got into uber-mormon mode. I've since reflected that "spirituality," testimony bearing, and "righteousness" are an essential part of mormon courtship--you go to a single's ward, and the reason it feels like a big testimony contest it because IT IS. People are trying to show off their testimonies the way most single guys want to show off their biceps.
"Wow brother _________, you sure do have a big testimony."
"Yeah, I guess it's ok. Wanna have FHE together forever?"
Sophmore year I took an excellent philosophy class, at the end of which I was convinced of the following:
1) Authority based reasoning is stupid (Joseph Smith or the scriptures say so, therefore it's true). Stupid.
2) Knowledge about the existence of God and the supernatural is impossible. I now consider myself agnostic.
3) My testimony of the church was based on a circular argument:
I know the Church is true because I "feel the spirit." I know that this feeling imparts this knowledge because prophets and scriptures told me that this is how it works. I know that the prophets and scriptures know what they're talking about, that they're "true," because I feel the spirit when they say so. I know that this feeling is dependable as a source of knowledge because prophets and scriptures told me that this is how it works--wash, rinse, and repeat. There is simply no independent criterion here--the first proposition depends on the second, which depends on the first. This was trouble.
4) Great philosophers are way smarter, profound, and even "inspired" than any G.A. or prophet, most of whom aren't even aware of the issues philosophers dissected hundreds of years ago. I'd love to see Socrates go toe to toe with Packer. Takedown.
Then there was evolution. McConkie said that rejecting this theory was one of the "tests of true believers." I believe he also called it one of the "seven deadly heresies," or some such nonsense. I minored in history and started doing research papers on the subject and quickly became convinced that the leadership of the Church didn't understand the theory and the membership didn't know the Church's official position, which last I checked (cared) was "no position." See "Seers, Savants and evolution" in Dialogue for an intro, or "Evolution and Mormonism."
I think all this was enough to convince me that I needed to study my religion with at least the level of critical thinking I would put into buying a used car. I had to hear both sides of the story. Religion is important. God gave me a brain. Perhaps I should use the latter to figure out the former. I also felt acutely that I had never been given an opportunity to choose a belief system that made sense to me, and the only way I was going to get that chance was to take it. No one was going to say "Ok ______, go do some research on world religions and find one you like." To the contrary everyone around me was saying "You already know it's true, just follow the prophet and you'll overcome your doubts." My beliefs were literally a product of memorization, repetition, and social pressure; I wanted beliefs that made sense, that I could internalize and feel ownership for.
So I started to research, almost as if I were writing a paper. I discovered Dialogue, Sunstone, and lds-mormon.com. I was shocked out of my wits by the penalty oaths that were in the pre-1990 endowment, and nothing anyone could say could convince me they were from God. They were clearly manipulative, threatening, and cultish, and they came from insecure, guilty men. I was very bothered by Freemasonry, "A View of the Hebrews," polygamy and polyandry, and the Book of Abraham issue, which I think was the last nail in my testimony's coffin. So I had to break it to my family, the Church wasn't true. I did, and the rest is history, or put another way, this is getting too long and my fingers hurt.
So here I am 5 years later. I'm still a member, but entirely inactive. My wife and I are currently attending a Unitarian Universalist Church, which we both enjoy. The journey has been hard, painful, satisfying, liberating, and almost unbelievable. I've lost some friends, made new ones, been slandered and used, respected and thanked, preached to, admonished, and pleaded with; I've doubted, learned, gained, and lost; and I'm stronger, smarter, happier, and some other fourth thing than ever.
One of my favorite quotes through it all is by Peter Abelard:
"By doubting we come to inquiry, and through inquiry we perceive truth."
Amen Saint Peter.
Subject: Re: I'm the Husband, Father and Grandpa; Here's my story:
Date: Jan 12 21:00
I was raised without any formal religious training, but had some limited exposure to a few different protestant churches by accepting invitations on rare occasions from a few of my friends. When I proposed to my future wife, she said she would marry me if I would promise to listen to the Mormon missionaries with an open mind after we were married. So, soon after we were married in 1957, we invited the missionaries to come to our place and give me the lessons. The missionaries were stake missionaries, who were Marines, as I was, also. They told me the Joseph Smith story, which didn't impress me much. They asked me to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I read some of it, and prayed, but never got the fire in the chest that all TBMs talk about. However, I knew my new bride really wanted me to join, and I thought the LDS church was as good as any. I don't know what I said during my interview, but it must have satisfied the requirements of the interviewer. So, with the promise that my testimony would grow stronger as I remained faithful, I was baptized.
I was slow at getting myself ready for the temple marriage that all TBMs are to participate in, and it wasn't until 5 years later that we went to the temple and were sealed with our two oldest kids, a son and a daughter. Eventually we had three more kids.
By this time I had read more of the BoM, from time to time. I had many false starts and just couldn't get interested in it. I had a suspicion that it was just a story that JS put together, but I kept it to myself.
When I went through the temple the first time, I was glad that I got past that experience and that it was over and done with. Later, I found out that I was expected to go back and do it again and again for dead people. That was a big letdown. And I wasn't very happy with the garment (one piece at that time) that I was supposed to wear day and night for the rest of my life. I began to wonder if I was required to wear those ugly things in the hereafter also, for all of eternity. They sure didn't do much for my pretty young wife either. So much for the sexy underwear for all of our younger years. Well, considering our age, we still look pretty good as we eat right, exercise and work out with weights. So better late than never.
I really didn't start reading much of the D&C until after I had been in the church for 25 years. I thought that it was in very bad taste that JS would castigate some individual for some infraction and put his name in a book that was supposed to be scripture for everyone in the church to read about for generations. And then there is the issue of JS's proclaiming himself to be prophet because he said God told him that he was. If you have any doubts that he's a prophet, you can read it in the D&C where JS testifies that he surely is. How can you have any doubts now? I really dislike the D&C. I've read parts of the PofGP from time to time and thought it was kind of interesting. However, I felt it was possibly something that JS put together from imagination. Again, I kept my suspicions to myself.
How do I justify my staying in the church for almost 48 years? I thought maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough to gain this great burning testimony that I was supposed to have. But I wasn't convinced that the effort was worth it, either. Over the years, I've paid tens of thousands of dollars in tithes and offerings and sat through thousands of hours in church meetings. I've come away from too many meetings feeling that I just wasn't going to make it to the great celestial kingdom anyway. This last year I read the book, The Pattern of the Double Bind in Mormonism, which explains this.
When I first joined the Mormon Church, there was more of a feeling of intellectual freedom. We were allowed to discuss things that weren't in the manuals in priesthood and Sunday school classes. The Relief Society studied Out of the Best Books. These books covered classics by great authors. The church in those days had a different feel. It seemed to me to be more open and free. Then over the years, the Relief Society became more under the control of the "priesthood". Their options were reduced to zero. Now they study out of the same manual as the "priesthood". The gospel doctrine class rotates four subjects, year in and year out. When they get around to studying the Old and New Testaments, they quote way too much from the BoM, D&C and PoGP. They skip over much of the Bible that is interesting and harp about the BoM again and again and again until I couldn't stand to go to class anymore. It was driving me nuts. So I would sit in the foyer during the gospel doctrine class and read the Bible the last few months I was in the church.
Over the years I wasn't always gung ho to do all the church assignments that were proposed. However, I would do some once in awhile. I resented being treated like a slave at the church cannery or church farm by some egotistical supervisor who suddenly had some authority, and now the little man could boss somebody around. If I'm going to volunteer my time and labor, I'd better be treated with respect or I'm outa there.
Of all the home teaching assignments I've ever had, it seemed most people didn't really want to be bothered, and I can understand that. But I had been assigned two older single ladies that lived together where I actually felt I was needed to help. There was always something to be repaired around their place. One time it was flashing that had come off under the eve of the roof. One time I repaired a leaky toilet. Another time their furnace needed repaired, etc. So most of the time I could help out. But most home teaching assignments were just busy work.
About two or three years ago, my youngest son started talking to my wife and me about the Book of Abraham in the PoGP. He said the original papyri had been discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. He said they turned out to be burial rites for an Egyptian priest who had died 3 or 4 hundred years before Christ, long after the days of Abraham. They had nothing to do with Abraham. At the time I thought that was interesting, but I wasn't ready to bail out of the church over it. Then last year he suggested
we read Grant Palmer's book, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, so we did. Then we read Losing a Lost Tribe. After that, we read The Double Bind; then it was By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus. My wife has all 26 volumes of Journal of Discourses, and I read parts of some of them, along with parts of History of the Church, the original 7 volumes by JS. My wife read An Intimate Chronicle, the Journals of William Clayton, JS's personal secretary, and she read me parts of it. The way I see it, the most condemning books about the church are original church history books, the Journal of Discourses and William Clayton's journals. The DNA thing with the American Indians was a real attention grabber for me, though. To find that none of the DNA from American Indians came from the mid east or Jerusalem, but from Siberia and Mongolia, was the thing that got my attention.
Another thing was the story that the temple rites were similar to the Masonic temple rites because the Masons has passed them down from the days of Solomon's temple. So I did a little research on this. It's my understanding that the masons formed a guild (labor organization) about the time that the great cathedrals were being constructed in Europe. This was around 1100 to 1300 AD. The earliest guilds, if I remember correctly, were organized around 400 AD. At any rate this was long after King Solomon's temple days. I supposed it was just coincidental that JS's grandfather, father and himself were all masons at one time or another.
Well, after all of this new light and knowledge, my wife and I sent in our resignations to church headquarters August 1, 2005, and received our notice from Greg Dodge that we are no longer members of the church on October 18, 2005.
I have to give credit for my feeling of freedom since being out of the church to having had some sessions with a Rapid Eye Technology therapist, who helped me release feelings of bondage. And, also, to the fact that I don't have to wear that funny underwear anymore.
I've read several posts on exmormon.org from people who claim to be athiests once they've left the Mormon church. So what do I know for sure now? A whole lot less than I used to, that's for sure. Over the years, I've read several books on Near Death Experiences and found them to be extremely interesting. In September 2004 I read the NDE of Mellen-Thomas Benedict which was the most fascinating one of all.
Recently I read the book E=mc2 by David Bodanis. It explains how energy=massxthe speed of light squared. If you are interested in how this works, I suggest you read the book. It's easy reading, and very interesting. I've known for years that physics teaches us that mass can change form and is not lost. I came away from the book feeling that energy is not lost. To me, the motivating force of life is energy. Thus, our life energy is never lost. It may change form, but is never lost. Yes, I believe we live on after this earthly existence. Maybe with worlds of black holes or anti matter for all I know.
I had an experience in June of last year. I was between sleep and wakefulness early one morning. Words formed in my mind, slowly, with a pause between words like this: "God...believes...in us...his children." I thought, "Aren't we supposed to believe in God?" The thought then came, "It is far more important that God believes in us than that we believe in him." I have five grown kids, so I know that as they go through certain stages of growth, they don't always believe in their parents, so to speak. But that doesn't make us, the parents, stop loving them. We have to believe in them.
So, I believe there is a guiding power in the universe that believes in us and is much bigger than to be threatened by us not believeng in It's existence.
I don't believe this higher guiding power created human beings, brought us into existence so that It could have something to punish for eternity. I believe we are all on our own paths to even better futures.
So I allow people to believe the way they wish, and I expect that you will allow me the same.
Subject: Your family gives me hope
Date: Jan 10 08:32
Congratulations to all of you. I really have appreciated your perspective and most of all your kindness and support as I'm going through this difficult process. You have meant more than you will know to me.
Subject: Thank you so much for your courage!
Date: Jan 10 10:11
Reading the connected story of you and your sisters gives all of us here great hope. What you are experiencing, we want for our families.
What a tremendous bond of love and understanding. And I say hats off to your mom who had the courage to be strong and let you have the freedom.
Perhaps Grant Palmer's book will be as "instrumental" in spreading truth as the church claims is the BoM.
It would be nice if this tread was added to the short stories so that extended families could learn from you. (done!)