Thank you for your web page - exmormon.org. I read it often for the letters, bulletin board and various web links. I was also a missionary from 74-76, but served in Norway. Here is my story.
My name is Edward Lars Nielsen, and I, too, am a multigenerational Mormon. My Great, Great, Great Grandfather was Isaac Morley, who is mentioned in the D&C (Ch. 64). He was baptized just six months after the LDS Church was organized. Isaac's daughter, (my great, great grandmother,) Cordelia Morley Cox, was asked by Joseph Smith to be one of his wives, but she said no! After Joseph Smith died, Cordelia was sealed to Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo Temple, Brigham Young acted as proxy. On the same day, Isaac Morley and his wife, Lucy Gunn, were adopted to Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball officiated. I love my family history, especially all the polygamous relationships that have given my family many, many stories and tales to tell.
I no longer practice Mormonism and most of my reasons are different from your other readers. When I was a young teenager, I had the misfortune of being sexually molested by a Bishop's counselor. I am now the age he was when he sexually abused me. It has taken me over 20 years to understand, and acknowledge, the depth of abuse I suffered from him and the impact that it's had on my life.
Let me start at the beginning.
Both of my parents were born and raised in Utah. My mother lived in Park City, which was nothing more than a mining town back then, and my father was raised in Sandy, before it was a large suburb of Salt Lake City. My grandfather on my mother's side, was the local doctor for Park City from1924 to 1939. My grandfather on my dad's side, was the principal at Jordan high school for many years and his nickname was 'pin head'. During WW II, my father served as a Lieutenant in the Navy and my parents also married. After the war, they moved to Northern California, were my father attended Stanford University and received his Masters Degree in Engineering. A lucrative job in Santa Monica took my family to Southern California, where I was born. I was the third and final child with two older sisters to care after me.
My parents weren't married in the temple and I doubt they ever paid much tithing, but, the rule on Sunday was to always attend at least one Church meeting. (Most everyone considered them to be the black sheep of their respective families.) My dad would attend occasionally if one of us had to give a talk, or sing, but the Church wasn't the driving force behind our family. I think it was probably the warm, sunny California weather.
Everything changed when my oldest sister decided to go to BYU. This was 1964, and I was nine years old. After her first semester away, she returned with a testimony of the Church. Because of her influence, the church did become the lead focus of our family everyone except for my father. My other sister began attending seminary and I was looking forward to becoming a Deacon. Around this time of enthusiasm for the church, my family moved even further south to Huntington Beach, California. My mother was relieved because Los Angeles was getting meaner and tougher (the Watts riots erupted that summer) and this quiet beach community hadn't grown into a sprawling suburb yet.
Ironically, my father's drinking became a problem around this same time. I think the expense of moving to a posh neighborhood and sending two kids to college finally took its toll. Instead of a couple of drinks each night, my father could easily down half of bottle. I became accustomed to my dad's drinking problem and learned how to stay clear of him and his ever-changing moods. Some mornings he would leave the house and instead of going to work, buy a bottle of vodka and drink it in his car. Other days, he wouldn't even go to work, he'd just stay home and drink. Weekends were the hardest, he stayed drunk from Friday evening to Sunday night. I did my best to stay away as much as possible and kept busy with my swimming and sports, and other church and school activities.
During these difficult years, our neighborhood was assigned to a new Ward house. To my surprise, there were many kids my age at the new ward and before long, I had made many new church friends. Gradually, the Church became a very safe and stable place for me to be. My testimony grew stronger and stronger, and I thoroughly enjoyed and loved being part of the LDS infrastructure and culture. So much so, that nearly all my time was spent at church or with my LDS friends. I was as faithful and believing as any teenager knew how, and eventually, I was called and served as Deacon's, Teacher's and Priest's quorum presidents.
My father's alcoholism worsened during my High School years. He lost his job, but was able to find work in another department at the aerospace company he worked for. This happened on three different occasions while I was in high school. The private hell my family went through was always kept a secret. We felt terrible shame and guilt about my father's drinking, and it nearly destroyed us. I became an expert at putting on a smile, pretending everything was all right, when in reality, my world was falling apart.
I was put through many awkward and devastating situations that a kid my age should never have had to experience: One school night during my freshman year my mother woke me up late, at 1:00 in the morning, so we could go and find my father. He had been out drinking all night. I got dressed and we drove around the city, traveling from bar to bar, looking for his car. When we finally found his car, I went inside the bar and gathered my father. I made sure his tab was paid and then helped him into the car with my mother. I carefully drove his car home, even though I was just 14. This was a horrible way for me to learn to drive.
I, like so many other children of alcoholics, have many, many unpleasant and regretful stories to tell about growing up in an alcoholic family. Blaming myself for the predicament of my family was probably the most pathetic of them all. The stigma of any association with alcoholism was very embarrassing for me. Any church meeting about the Word of Wisdom, Celestial Marriage, or the family unit was almost impossible for me to sit through. I always felt smothered with shame. Often, I wondered if I was being punished for something I did in the pre-existence. I had never experienced such utter humiliation and disgrace listening to those church sermons. Still, I felt safe at Church and prayed that God would watch over and protect me.
I met the man who sexually molested me, (I'll call him Ron,) at a priesthood meeting during this time of turmoil at home. He had been assigned as my Teacher's Quorum advisor. At first, Ron was just another man in the ward. We would occasionally meet at his home for presidency meetings, but other than that, I would only see Ron only at Church.
The following year Ron became my sophomore seminary instructor in addition to my Teacher's Quorum advisor. Because of my dadís inactivity, Ron would pick me up and take me to priesthood meeting, and also, early morning (6:00 am) seminary. Afterwards, the two of us would spend hours in his car talking. Since I had been alienated from my father due to his alcoholism, I talked to Ron instead. I talked to him about everything except my father's drinking. That was kept secret. I told Ron things about school and my swim meets, or all the activities I did with my friends. He told me things about his first marriage and being in the army, and then his conversion to Mormonism. It was during this year that a closeness slowly emerged--a strong emotional bond had grown between the two of us. Ron was 38 and I was 15.
Now, Ron began to see me outside of the church realm, and started to attend my swim meets or stop by the house on Saturday afternoons to visit. Sometimes I would go with him to run errands and occasionally accompany him on work excursions. Before long, Ron became my father figure, a companion, and ultimately, my mentor. When I finally broke down and told Ron the secret regarding my father's drinking, he comforted me with his arms and said strengthening words to ease the pain I was feeling. Now, for sure, I knew God was watching over me by sending Ron to help me through my troubled times at home. I felt very safe and secure.
The summer after my sophomore year I turned sixteen. This meant that Ron would no longer be my seminary teacher, nor would he be my Teacher's Quorum advisor. I was apprehensive about this because I was so accustomed to seeing Ron on a daily basis. Now, I would only see him on Sundays and maybe a few afternoons. What I wasn't prepared for was our Ward was suddenly split! Ron was joyfully called to be in the bishopric of the new Ward. And, as fate would have it, not only Ron but most of my Church friends would be in the new ward. My entire support system had suddenly been rent in two! I was feeling left out and very alone by the time school started that fall.
As an excuse to see one another, Ron made arrangements for me to baby-sit his two kids. Once a week, Ron and his wife taught college at two different schools. Ron always came home a couple of hours before his wife. It was during this time alone, while his kids slept and his wife was out, that Ron and I would talk.
We'd sit on his couch, his arm always around my shoulder, and we'd talk and talk and talk. Our session would end when his wife came home. One night, Ron kissed me on the cheek. It wasn't sexual, at least I didn't see it that way. Then, a few weeks later, he kissed me on the lips. I told him that I had never kissed a man on the lips before, and Ron told me that men all over the world kiss each other on the lips. Ron's kisses gradually became passionate, and before long, our relationship turned sexual. It had all happened so casually--over the course of two years, that it was hard to believe what actually was happening. I put on my blinders and pretended that everything was on the up and up, but deep down I was a wreck. Ron's new found affection started to take its toll. . .my body was now his rubbing post.
Everything came to a screeching stop a few months later during a sleep over. Yes, a sleep over! Ron's wife would be gone for the weekend and plans were made for me to spend the night. Once the kids where put to bed, we undressed and got into bed. As Ron pressed up against me and began to caress me, I physically started to convulse. I started losing control of my motor skills and violently began to shiver and quake all over. My reactions were completely uncontrollable. My sub-conscience had taken over (this, in retrospect, was the only way I knew how to get out of this devastating situation).
Terrified by my convulsing, Ron immediately got me out of bed and I slowly began to settle down. We decided to get dressed and go for a walk to get some fresh air. When we returned, I spent the rest of the night in the spare bedroom, fully clothed and alone.
After this overwhelming ordeal, I knew what I had to do, there simply wasn't a choice. I severed all ties with Ron; our relationship, friendship, companionship, mentorship, everything was over. Depressed and completely demoralized, I became paralyzed by too much conflict in my young life. Inexperienced and naive, and inundated with church doctrine, I implicated myself for what had happened, and speedily fell into a terrible, self shaming, state-of-mind. I thought I knew despair from my dadís drinking problem, but this new 'hole' was even bigger and even more daunting. I felt like a ghost of my former self; a one dimensional shadow that might disappear into thin air at any moments notice. To make things even worse, I was terrified of who I was. I was fearful that I had become a homosexual.
Now, both home and Church were awful places to be. The person I thought God had sent tuned out to be a villain. I had absolutely no one to talk to. I felt so dirty and guilty and shameful. Any one can imagine the despair that entirely encumbered my life.
Since there was no one I felt I could turn to, I went deep within myself and tucked away my feelings and secrets into a small pocket, far back into the depth of my soul. There simply wasn't any other choice for me back then.
That summer, before my senior year, I visited my cousins in Salt Lake City, and asked if I could stay and finish my senior year with them. I didn't want to go back home to my father and my past memories of Ron. But my mother would have nothing to do with it. She said she needed me at home to help her cope with my father, so I begrudgingly went home to start my senior year. My mother had absolutely no idea about the ordeal I had been through with Ron.
I began to date and found a girl to secure my masculinity, then I finished-out high school with honors: Varsity swimming and volley ball, Honor Roll, Senior Class Council, Boy of the Month, and horribly ironic. . .Most Lovable Senior Boy!
I also received my Duty to God award that summer.
I had done everything that was expected of me; I was exactly what the church wanted its youth to be. But inside, I was dying. No matter what accomplishments I had made, there was a sense that it still wasn't enough. "You need to give 110%!" was the message I always heard. Good was never, ever, good enough. And because of this, and the molesting, and my father's alcoholism, I never had inner peace. There was always some internal battle to be fought. I felt choked by life and the pressure of the Church to constantly perform. I was always doing what others thought I should do; I never felt like I could live my own life and do the thing I wanted to do.
I went to BYU that fall even though I felt that everything I did was a masquerade. But it was good for me to get away; I had the time of my life living on my own and meeting many great people. I was able to have a fresh start. I was free of my dadís problem and the memories of Ron were now shut away; locked tight in a box and out of my mind. But as the second semester came to a close, I realized I would soon be going back home. This was something that I absolutely did not want to do. The thought of going home and returning to the reality of a "worldly home" was unbearable. So I did something that I had never done before. I became worldly myself and started to drink... just like my father. I probably got drunk 3 or 4 times before the end of the second semester. (Now I realize I was asking for help.)
Once I got home, I continued to drink but mad sure my parents didn't know. I also started to smoke pot with another church friend. We would even go to church dances drunk and stoned. I was in so much emotional pain that the drugs would temporarily block it out. I loved the feeling of all my troubles literally washed away. . .it was heaven. But the hangovers were hell! As my 19th birthday approached, a lot of talk about my mission came up. I clearly did not want to go--I was absolutely in no shape or frame of mind to go. When I announced to my family that I wasn't going on a mission, my mother burst into tears and begged me to go. She told me she needed me to go so my father would get better and Heavenly Father would bless our home. My mother always knew exactly what to say to me to get her way.
The guilt worked and I told my mother that I would go for her. I confessed my drinking and pot smoking to my Bishop and also to my mother. It nearly broke her heart to find out that I was following in my fatherís path. Quitting drinking and smoking pot gave me an inner strength that I hadn't anticipated, it made my character stronger. Getting ready for a mission smoothed everything over with my family and three months later, I got my calling to the Oslo, Norway Mission.
(As an aside: One odd thing that happened to me during my interview with the Bishop was the old masturbation question. He warned me that the Stake President would not let any one go on a mission if they had a problem with masturbation. So, my Bishop told me to tell the Stake President, when the question came up, that I had didnít have any problem with it. This was my very first experience in lying to get what I wanted as far as the church was concerned.)
My father had finally lost his job for good, and went to re-hab and sobered up. He was able to find work in San Antonio, Texas, and we moved to Texas the same time that I got my call to Norway. It was all very surreal: my family living in Texas and me going to Norway.
Before I got to Norway, I spent two months in Rexburg, Idaho, at the LTM (Language Training Mission). I liked the routine of the LTM, even if I was a slow study. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the other missionaries and I liked the fact that we had some preparation time before we were sent into the mission field. I bonded with my companion and he really helped me out when I was feeling inadequate or blue.
Our group was small, just six elders, and I liked them all very much. We spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas at the LTM. Since we could all sing, we often went caroling at night to retirement centers or to the members who once lived in Norway. It was such a special time for us. We were a good group of young men and we all got very pumped to go to Norway and do the Lord's work.
Unfortunately, the mission program in Norway was very stale when I arrived. My excitement dwindled in a matter of weeks. I found out that most missionaries were lucky to finish their missions with one single baptism. Tracting was the basic method of finding new converts and was very ineffectual. After six months, I was sent above the Arctic Circle to a small town called Harstad. There was only one member and no other missionaries for about 250 miles. Oslo, where the Mission Office was located, was a thousand miles away. I loved the isolation from the other missionaries because it was easier to focus on my work as a missionary.
This was by far the best part of my mission. My companion was a native and I finally got my Norwegian down pat. Having a native was a big advantage, and many doors that normally were closed to an American team, were opened to us. We had many investigators and taught a lot of lesson. Eventually a whole family of six were converted. Because of this success, I was sent down to work in the Mission Office. I was assigned to be the Member Record Secretary and the Audio/Visual Coordinator.
I learned to run a printing press and how to use a Norwegian typewriter. I also learned how to run a movie projector, splice film and edit old church movies (the ones where most of the women had big outrageous hairdos and lots and lots of make-up). But what I wasn't expecting was to learn the hidden side to missionary work, and more importantly, the hidden side of the church.
As I dug through the files of the Norwegian members, I found the file for members asking to have their names taken off the records. Some where over 10 years old and nothing had been done with them except be placed in the back row. They had zero priority. (Normally missionaries wouldn't have this task as Member Record Secretary, but Norway didn't have enough members to form a Stake, so the missionary program ran the Church.) I quickly started at the back of the pack and began processing records. I couldn't believe the irresponsibility of the missionary program in Norway.
The biggest blow came from my companion at the Mission Office, George, who was the Secretary to the Mission President. (Our President called us by our first names, but he preferred to use my middle name, which is Lars.) I quickly became George's confidante and overnight I learned all the secrets of my mission.
I learned which elders had problems masturbating, which elders bought and read pornography, which elders had Norwegian girl friends, which elders traveled to other countries for a vacation. I learned of the sexual escapes of many of the missionaries--none of which were ever sent home, even after sleeping around. I also learned about elders clamoring to get to the top to become a Zone Leader, or work in the Mission Office. To be assigned as a President's Assistant was the tops. Parents would even get involved, and travel to Norway to have an interview with the President to see how their son was doing. It was all such a spectacle, and sadly, it worked like a charm. This is where I saw how money could have a big influence on the out come of things. I never looked at a "calling" being inspired by God after seeing all this.
When I questioned George about all his "stories", he took me down to his office late one night and proved it. He showed me file after file, letters and memos, stating what he had told me was true. "See, I told you so!" I'll never forget his words. Nothing was ever the same after that. I felt such a fool to put the church and my fellow missionaries on such a high pedestal. My faith had been utterly challenged and I felt very betrayed.
Now, I could recognize many problems going on inside the Mission Office itself. After living with the President and his family for several months, I realized their hearts were in the wrong place. This was confirmed the night when one the President's daughters confided in me that there was a big problem with the family. Her mother, the Presidentís wife, was experiencing lower back problems. In a blessing by the Prophet himself, the mother was promised she wouldn't experience any back problems while serving her mission in Norway. The problem, of course, was that she had been laid up for weeks in bed, and nearly flew back to the states for surgery. I remember thinking, "People shouldn't make promises they can't keep. That includes prophets." I asked the daughter why the "laying on of hands" and anointing weren't working. All she could do was shrug her shoulders.
What bothered me most about the conversation with the daughter was the way the she enjoyed telling me the story, and the strange way she reveled in it. She had big crocodile tears with a smile mixed in between.
I finished my mission with enough dirt on my Mission President that I was granted permission to travel around by myself, without my companion, who was laid up with his own bad back. This was a luxury only dreamt of by other missionaries. I did as I pleased, and infuriated several missionaries in the process. But there was nothing they could do. The last night of my mission was spent in the mission home and we had dinner with the family. The tension between the family and me was tightly strung--there was definitely no love lost.
After my mission, I returned to BYU expecting everything to improve, but the exact opposite happened. The behavior and attitudes I had noticed by a good number of my fellow missionaries were only magnified by many of the BYU coeds. Their thin veneer of righteousness was easy for me to see through, and soon, I became disgusted by being a part of the Mormon Church and its pretentious caste system. Plus, there were many doctrinal issues that I just couldn't buy any more.
When I dedicated, committed, and promised myself to the Mormon Church during the temple ceremony, I did so on the basis that I had been given all the necessary information to make that decision. I held my thumb to my throat and made a slashing motion a crossed it, vowing my death (my life!) to God, and his church. I held this ritual to be true and pure, and devoted my life to a church that bore Christ's witness. This was a non-censored, non-altered, completely restored gospel. In no way was it misleading or false--it was "the only true church". This was promised and reinforced by my family, and all other church members. Because of this, I knew I had done the right thing when I took out my temple endowments.
Sadly, over time, I discovered that I had not been giving all the facts:
There were many, many contradictions between the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the D&C and the Book of Abraham. I found certain Church histories altered and covered up; many were curiously inaccessible to its members. New Prophets and General Authorities were telling me to listen to them, and not to the previous ones. Worst of all, a connection between the temple ceremony--where I had offered my life--had a Masonic connection and background!
I discovered I had not been given all the information intentionally! As a result, I went through a plethora of feelings and emotions and private conversations with myself. The out come: I felt betrayed, broken-hearted and duped. I was outraged that I had been so easily swayed. I was annoyed with myself that I had believed their lies and promises. I was angry that I spent so much time involved in endless church activities and meetings. I couldn't believe I had given my money to an organization that was already wealthy. And last of all, I was resentful and disappointed with myself for exhausting so much time feeling victimized. This was the worse part, I hated feeling like a victim--I had been victimized in youth, and I wasn't about to let it happen again as a adult. So, I quit the church.
On the optimistic side I was free, free, free! Free to have my own thoughts. Free to use my own mind. Free to speak my thoughts, and mind. Free to discover, and be a part of the planet I was born on. Free time to have hobbies, and enjoy sports and nature. Free to dress and wear what I wanted. Free of feeling guilty and shameful. Free of not being good enough. Free of other peoples judgments. But most important: I was Free to be me. Free to be "As Is". Free to be as God made and wanted me to be.
I left BYU at the end of my junior year and haven't set foot on campus since. That was in 1978. I threw on my breaks on and made one big, gigantic, U-turn in life. This was the best thing I ever did for my self-other than dealing with the fact, that I was, indeed, a homosexual.
I made certain to leave the church first, then deal with my sexual issues. This, in retrospect, really helped me in severing the church ties, because I did so on behavioral and doctrinal issues, not that fact that I was a queer. I knew the two were like oil and water, and I remained a virgin until I was almost 23.
Years later, I decided to stir the pot a little. After lots, and lots, and lots of therapy, I was able to find the keys that could open the locked boxes that stowed away the many damaged feelings and emotions regarding my fathers drinking, and sexual abuse I suffered from Ron. I made amends with my father and I had a very good relationship with him until he died in 1994 of a heart attack at the age of 74.
I contacted Ron two years ago, in 1996, and confronted him about what he had done to me. He was serving as counselor in a Southern California Stake Presidency. Sadly, he denied any wrong doing, and claimed shock by my allegations. He sent me a letter adamantly stating that nothing inappropriate had ever happened between us, and that I had ". . . betrayed and misrepresented his investment in my life; of time, energy and care.". Curiously, a second letter followed where his tone had considerably mellowed, but unfortunately, he would not admit to any wrong doing, nor would he apologize for the sexual and emotional devastation he had caused me. (He owns a good chunk of that Mormon 'smugness' other readers have mentioned.)
What Ron did not remember was, I had kept a LOVE letter of his all these years. Even back then, I knew to keep this letter. No one--not even a family member--has ever expressed love for me like Ron did in this letter. I took Ronís correspondence, including his twenty-some year old love letter, copied it, and mailed it to his Stake President. Five months later, I finally received a letter from his Stake President. He showed general concern and hoped I would be able to move on with my life. He also said that he acted on my letter and called Ron in and talked to him about my allegations. Unfortunately, the Stake President felt Ron was "owed confidentiality" regarding their meeting. All I thought was, "Confidentiality for a perpetrator? This is exactly how molesters thrive!"
My mother was great, and completely backed me and got involved, and talked to her Stake President. Her Stake President contacted Ron's Stake President. It was decided that Ron could no longer be involved in any youth programs. He was still teaching seminary, so I assume, he was released. I donít know for sure. Since Ron was in the bishopric when he sexually abused me, I wrote back to the Stake President and informed him that a church court must take place. This is Church protocol. This was in June, 1997, and I have not as of yet, received a response and have been ignored.
Confronting Ron was one of the toughest thing I have ever done. I never knew being so honest and truthful about something could be so difficult and challenging to my soul and character. But it was also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done for my self. My integrity had been so thoroughly challenged. I now have much freedom from the monkey that was on my back for all those many years--the relief is bliss, but not entirely complete.
As a result of my personal experiences I have very little nice to say about the Mormon Church (or any church for that matter). Religion, for me, is nothing more than a platform for men to have control, authority, and power over other people. Religion is a business, God is the product. It creates a false atmosphere for people to feel better than others.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. I view spiritually as the inner journey we travel to find and discover our selves. . . whatever that journey may be. It's all about the experience of the inner journey and where it takes us, not what the journey is. It's different for everyone. This is the key. There is no right or wrong.
Religion doesn't allow for this, or, does it allow for the individuality of the person. Religion requires conformity, sameness, and obedience. And through conformity, sameness, and obedience, religion gets its power to rule and govern its people. All freedom is lost. Religion is about ownership, spirituality is about freedom. I feel very strongly about this.
Here are some LDS Church issues and doctrine, that don't add up for me:
1. What really troubles me is how angry Jesus Christ is in the first sections of the D&C. He sounds like a raving maniac; very little patience or understanding, and totally obsessed with himself. This can't be true.
2. The way women are treated in the church is appalling. The way Emma Smith is treated in the D&C; especially section 132, where Jesus Christ threatens to DESTROY her, is down right sinister. Jesus the Destroyer? Huh? What ever happened to "Free Agency"? What about the 11th Article of Faith?: "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may." If this was such an important practice, why didn't Christ appear to Emma and reveal to her the importance of this new order. What's most ironic is that Emma lived on, and Joseph was destroyed.
3. The restoration of the Gospel never made sense to me. A dead beat God?
Early Christians were burned at the stake for their beliefs, and God takes away the gospel? I don't think so. Besides, according to myth, John and the three Nephites were on earth and had the keys to the gospel, they would have restored it.
4. The two and a half year period it took for Brigham Young to be ordained as the second President of the church doesn't make a lick of sense. With all the visitations they had, including: angels, past prophets, Jesus Christ, God the Father (no less), along with the enormous amount of revelations found in the D&C, why the two and half year lag in naming a new Prophet? Why any confusion as to whom the next president was to be?
5. I don't buy the Book of Mormon story at all. The part about the Lamanites being punished by God and cursed with a dark skin is cruel to so many people of this planet; it's such a wicked thing to say that their skin will turn white if they repent. This only perpetuates racism. I've never bought the 'white is good, black is bad' way of thinking anyway. If man is punished for his own sins, (second article of faith) why were generations cursed with a dark skin? Sins of the fathers? Preexistence spirits sent to this planet to be punished? Born into sin? Doesn't make any sense at all. The racism found in Mormonism is unparalleled.
6. Why do Mormons go to doctors and take medications when they claim they have the gift to heal the sick? This really makes them look foolish and appear faithless.
7. Why didn't Jesus ever write down his own words and thoughts? The bible is basically 'hear say'. I view the bible not as the word of God, but rather the word of MEN !
My Exit Letter
My name is Edward Lars Nielsen. I am a sixth generation Mormon; my Great, Great, Great grandfather, Isaac Morley, was baptized into the Church just six months after it was founded in 1830. My Great, Great grandmother, Cordelia, was sealed to Joseph Smith as one of his many wives. On February 3rd 1846, Isaac Morley was adopted and sealed to Brigham young in the Nauvoo Temple. Heber C. Kimball officiated the temple ceremony, which was done away with by the Church many years ago. Most Church members have no idea that the church used to practice such rituals.
My journey in the church went as follows: I was Deaconís Quorum, Teacherís Quorum, and Priestís Quorum President. I received my Duty to God award. I attended BYU, and served my two-year mission in Norway. I was exactly the person the Church wanted me to be. I accomplished all this with inactive parents, and an alcoholic father.
The Church was a safe haven for me, and made me feel protected from the unpredictable and volatile circumstances I experienced at home. But my secure feeling was only and illusion, and short lived.
Fast forward to the present.
At the beginning of this year, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Los Angeles Times ran a story about Bishop James Denos. Denos was sent to prison for 20 years for sexually abusing four of his 25 grandchildren. His family identified 17 other victims, dating back 50 years ago. James Denos had been a Bishop, a High Counsel member, and Temple Worker.
(An article can be found at: http://www.sltrib.com/2002/jan/01122002/utah/166706.htm)
I knew the Denos family: I dated his daughter, Beverly, in high school, ate Sunday dinner at their home, went on family outings, and continued my friendship with Beverly at BYU. Their unfortunate family news, of course, was shocking and very tragic to read.
The news hit especially hard because I, too, was a victim of sexual abuse by a Church member. While I sought safe harbor within the walls of the Church, a Bishopís Counselor sexually abuse me. My abuser had been my Teacherís Quorum Advisor, Seminary Instructor and Scout Leader. He eventually was called as a Bishop, then into a Stake Presidency.
I notified Church authorities of my molestation about five years ago. Their response, in part" "I am not at liberty to disclose the substance of the interview or any actions taken with respect thereto because of the duty of confidentiality owed to Brother __________. I want to assure you, though, that your letters were carefully and prayerfully considered and acted upon." I replied that I wanted a Bishopís Court, but I never received a return response. I was ignored. Everything was quietly swept under the carpet, and a sexual predator was granted the gift of confidentiality, and enjoys the support of the Church. Quite a contrast to Bishop Denosí punishment, I must say.
Because of my unfortunate experience with Church hierarchy, I have little faith in the flawed LDS system of "lay ministry". For me itís obvious that there was never any divine inspiration in the Church callings of James Denos or my abuser. These men easily fooled Church leaders, and damaged many peoplesí lives in the process. Having a child molester in the governing position of Bishop is a form of abuse to all Ward members. The thought of James Denos and my abuser having spiritual authority over other people haunts me.
There is great dysfunction in the LDS Church, and on one seems to care or dare admit it. When was the last time the Church ever said, "Weíre sorry. We made a mistake. We ask for your forgiveness." I have never seen the Church live up to the same expectations it requires of its members.
Throw in the recent article in The New Yorker magazine concerning the abominable history and devious acts of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and Iím done with my association with the Mormon Church. Reading the article only dug up old issues I will never be able to resolve honestly. There are too many mental hoops and spiritual gymnastics involved for me to believe in the Mormon Church anymore.
The testimony I had when I was an active Mormon, was built on partial knowledge, half-told truths, superstitions, and selected histories: I never knew Joseph Smith married other menís wives and two 14-year-old girls during a time when polygamy was illegal in the state of Illinois. I never knew that the original papyrus for the Book of Abraham was recovered, and found to be a very common Egyptian funerary text, called the Book of Breathings, and not the actual hand-written words of Abraham as my Book of Abraham promises. I never knew the first edition of the D& C was called the Book of Commandments, and had several revelations forbidding polygamy. I never knew that Brigham Young taught that Adam was Heavenly Father. I never knew the sacred covenants I made in the temple would be changed and altered in 1990. I never knew the "Five Points of Fellowship" came from the Masons. I never knew Joseph Smith was a Mason. I never knew that some of Paul Dunnís stories were fabrications. I never knew that different editions of the Book of Mormon contained altered scriptures from the 1973 edition that I used on my missionó2 Nephi 30:6, Mosiah 29:15, Alma 29:4, Alma 32:30 are just a few of the many, many, changes.
But most of all, I canít believe I was taught in Primary that dark-skinned people would become white in color if they believed in the ChurchóSpencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report 1960, Improvement ERA, December 1960:
"I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people todayÖ The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation."
As we both know, the scripture promising the Lamanites white skin, was changed in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. Could God really be so petty? To think I once believed in this racist voodoo makes me ill with shame and embarrassment.
In accordance with the 11th Article of Faith, this letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I no longer believe the Mormon Church to be the only true church on Earth. As I am no longer a member, I want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the Church. Since the temple ceremony I first attended in1974 in now different, changed and altered, I no longer consider the promises I made there to be valid. Because of the sexual abuse I experienced by a High Priest, I no longer consider the LDS Priesthood as valid, and therefore, I do not recognize my baptism, or any Priesthood confirmations.
Other than notification of my cancelled Church membership, no further contact from the Church is needed or desired.
Thanks for reading my story.
PS. I post as Ether, my temple name.
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