Subject: My last Sunday attending an LDS church meeting
Date: Oct 26, 2007
Author: Skeptical (Odell Campbell)

I sat on the stand, just to the right of the bishop. I sat suffering through yet another Sunday. The day before, like too many Saturdays before it, I had become sick to my stomach knowing that I had to wake up the next morning, go to bishopric meeting, PEC, sacrament, Sunday school, interviews, and visits.

I needed it to end. It had been over eighteen months since my accidental research had led me to the painful, yet inevitable conclusion, that my faith since childhood was based on fraud, misrepresentation, superstition and deceit. I had been candid about my questions, research and fears. The bishop had struggled with me. But in the end, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe and I couldn’t fake it anymore. Requests for my release were ignored and delayed. The only official response was for me to stop researching history.

“Be patient.” That is what my latest request to be released was met with. The stake was planning to re-boundary again and would install a new bishopric. It didn’t want to call a new counselor to replace me. It also, it appeared, didn’t want the ward to see Bro. Campbell be released. Rumors of my apostasy had been leaked by the other counselor to “concerned” ward members. Releasing me would validate those rumors.

That morning, I had to force myself into the shower. I put on my suit, grabbed my church briefcase and headed very reluctantly to my car and drove the dreaded seven miles into the parking lot. As I got out, I glanced at the temple just behind the chapel. Once upon a time, it had meant something to me. Now, well it seemed so pointless an edifice.

I walked through the double glass doors and turned left and found my lonely seat in the bishop’s office. Once upon a time I had been a vibrant and energetic young leader. Now I just endured another Sunday. I voiced no opinion or thoughts during bishopric discussions. I was no longer asked to offer prayers, spiritual thoughts or to give advice. I wasn’t even allowed to conduct sacrament meetings anymore when the monthly rotation came my way. It didn’t matter. I was just an empty suit in an empty religion.

After bishopric meeting, I found an empty chair in ward council. It all sounded the same. The same families with the same problems and the same reports from the same leaders. These people were good people, but the rock they were pushing would never reach the top of the hill, nor was the stone ever going to encompass the earth. Eyes darted to me and quickly glanced away. It had become so obvious that something had changed. The bishop and other counselor worked the agenda, gave assignments, and ended the meeting, leaving me with ten minutes to say hello to my wife and children before the start of sacrament. Only three hours of my incarceration were left that day.

I could see it in her eyes, too. She was spiritually exhausted but hadn’t reached the snapping point yet. That would come in a few more months. I wondered if she understood how horrible it had been for me that morning, that month, that year.

The prelude music started and I took my seat at the bishop’s side. The last several months I had felt like an imposter sitting there. I looked over the faces of the ward members as they visited and found their normal pews. Some of these people had been there when I began law school. They had helped bless my children. I had cried with them, and enjoyed life with them. I had taught their sons, and mourned their dead, planned funerals and blessed the sick. The astonishment of discovering the fraud had vanished, to be replaced with depression and hopelessness. I wondered what I would do instead of attending gospel doctrine class. I couldn’t do that anymore. It had become too hard to listen to packaged misinformation. Perhaps I would go visit Primary and watch the children play. Or maybe I would escape to the clerk’s office and read.

I didn’t even know who was speaking that day. I looked to my right and saw the faces of two friends. He had struggled with depression and recently was forced to undergo drug rehab. Few in the ward knew how pain killers prescribed for back surgery had kidnapped this man. He was struggling with his own challenges. Somehow his courage gave me momentary strength. I would make it through another Sunday. There, next to him was his stoic wife. Even after all these years, I really didn’t know her that well.

Opening hymn, invocation, ward business, sacrament hymn, and sacrament. I wondered if the deacon cared about what he was doing? I was slightly amused that the bishop reviewed the sacrament prayer card – none of it mattered. The speakers were announced and the great betrayal commenced. She spoke on faith and accepting truth based on spiritual manifestations and the need to ignore intellectual doubts and even facts. It had been one of her better talks, but today it felt like a knife in my back.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence. The bishop had agreed a year earlier to just assign talks focusing on Christ and New Testament parables. She had focused on faith and the restoration. My growing doubt was erased. He spoke of the divine mission of Joseph Smith and how one mustn’t view evidence as an attorney, but only through the eyes of faith.

I was startled by the emotions I had begun experiencing. Depression was replaced with a surging anger. I hadn’t felt this level of annoyance in many years. Adrenalin surged through me.

My ability to exist in that atmosphere, already strained, reached the breaking point in that very moment. My impulse was to stand and leave. I looked down at my wife and children. I turned to the bishop and asked why he had betrayed me in this way. He mumbled something and began sweating. Later I would learn that my law partner’s wife had told an out of state former ward member of my apostasy. They had gossiped the news to the speakers. He acknowledged to them the rumors and permitted them to “help me” by speaking at church.

The bishop had been previously fair with me. But I emotionally could not endure another second of it. Walking off the stand would relieve me, but embarrass my wife, children and the bishop. I fought the urge. I turned to my left and whispered to him that after sacrament meeting I was leaving. He nodded.

The meeting ended. I picked up my briefcase and found my wife. Her face reflected an acknowledgement that a boundary had been crossed. I told her that I loved her but that I couldn’t be a Mormon anymore. I left the building and headed north. I had always wanted to attend a UU meeting. I found the building in Edmond and fortunately I was just in time for the start. Members visited around a kitchen table and drank coffee. I had removed my tie when I noticed the casual clothing of those attending. The sermon that day was on the need to question faith.

I never attended another LDS church meeting again.


Subject: Odell: Another great post. Thanks for sharing your story.
Date: Oct 26 17:05
Author: Elder George Carlin

It brought back many memories of my own exodus out of the church.

I realize now that within the intellectual confines of Mormonism, self-imposed ignorance and blind faith is valued over a sincere quest for knowledge and truth. It wasn't until I gained the courage to say enough is enough and that "truth should withstand scrutiny", that I was able to find truth.

My joy for life has exponentially grown since that time. It is so much greater today than it was for me as a member plagued with doubts and insecurities in a foundationally and intellectually weak church. Those doubts about the church caused me to doubt myself.

For anyone reading this who is questioning, believe in yourself and your ability to think...and please remember this when you have moments of doubt when investigating the claims of the Mormon church: "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind" - Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Subject: Thank you, Skep. My last few months as an EQP felt just the same, like being ...
Date: Oct 26 17:07
Author: MC Blind

trapped in a fun house, that lacked any fun. It was all empty, all absurd. Pointless. The absence of reality hurt. It was belabored and strained nothingness.


Subject: Re: To timid to fess up.
Date: Oct 26 17:29
Author: Long Tooth

Do you still have the same Law Partner? I find myself dreading to meet old friends or business associates, because of expectations and assumptions they may still hold from the past. I'm uncomfortable to admit how I currently feel. The past hangs on.


Subject: No
Date: Oct 26 17:35
Author: Skeptical (Odell Campbell)

Our ten year association and partnership ended several months later.


Subject: !
Date: Oct 26 17:27
Author: 3X

Very powerful and moving - and building to an inexorable climax. Trying to return to church after that experience might have rendered you insane.

Whenever I read something like this, I wonder how awareness was suppressed and controlled - and marvel at its recovery.

Unfortunately, recovery is not a guaranteed process ...


Subject: Wow, Odell.
Date: Oct 26 18:29
Author: JackMormon'sWife

Powerful post.

I think we've all felt the way you did at some point during our exit from Mormonism. But few of us have the ability to express those feelings quite as well as you do. I think a lot of people here tonight can relate to what you've said.

Leaving Mormonism is a messy, messy business.

Jack's Wife
Shannon ;o)


Subject: Update
Date: Oct 26 18:53
Author: Skeptical (Odell Campbell)

The experience I related here occurred almost eighteen months ago. However, writing it caused me to reflect on the pitiful nature of forced belief and the intense struggle to maintain life itself.

That was the beginning of a new life for me. My wife and children soon joined me, at their own pace, probably quickened by my cadence.

In two weeks, I will celebrate the one year anniversary of my "new" law firm.

My oldest is in college and the younger three are excelling at school. My wife is happy and enjoys working at the elementary.

I love life and the experiences it brings. I have developed new and meaningful friendships. Once in awhile I feel a little hindered having to learn life lessons two decades late.

For some reason I needed to post that. After reading it again the despair I then felt echoed in my memory. For those of you who can identify right now with the feelings I expressed, please know that you aren't traveling alone and that a new sun's rays are racing toward you bringing you a new day and new life.


Subject: Re: Update
Date: Oct 26 20:15
Author: PennsylvaniaIdiot

Better late than never!!!

Thanks for posting this...what an odd thing to go through. This religion makes peoples heads spin entirely too much and can really bring a person to a bizarre point in life.

All for the better though!! Congrats on your exit!

I'm pretty much out now, it's been tough, but I'm so much more vocal about my disbelief. I really don't care what anyone has to say now, I could destroy any TBM in a discussion about the falsehoods of the church.

Again, congrats and thanks for sharing!


Subject: Re: My last Sunday attending an LDS church meeting
Date: Oct 26 19:44
Author: Clerksville

I have been out for over 2 years now, but while reading the story of your exit, I was completely immersed. The picture was so complete and the feelings so familiar. Great job.
I was a clerk when I left so I was going to all the useless meetings and participating as little as I could get away with. I stayed in the clerk's office as much as possible as well. I finally had to leave or implode. Like you, each Saturday night for me also brought anguish and depression. Life was immediately better once I was on the outside.


Subject: Re: My last Sunday attending an LDS church meeting
Date: Oct 26 20:26
Author: emalee

Your story is sad. I just don't understand why people can't just let others live their own life with their own beliefs.

It seems that once you start down the road to leave that it just finally becomes impossible to stay.

I had a similar experience as a member of the YW Presidency. When people became aware of my issues and disagreements the whole meeting was changed to be about me. It was a turning point for me. It was when I knew I couldn't go back.


Subject: UU
Date: Oct 27 11:35
Author: Skeptical (Odell Campbell)

"UU" is an abbreviation for Unitarian Universalism, a liberal religious tradition.


Subject: Very Inspiring
Date: Oct 26 20:32
Author: Zeezrom

Thanks for the posting .....

Its wonderful to read such emotions and trauma and experiences of the reality of Mormonism .Its inspiring to know that people can be freed from this mind warping powerful and emotionally entrapping religion. I hope to help free some from this imprisonment.I can't rebel in church and risk being branded as 'troublesome' but I can ask sincere questions which cause many to think and lay the foundations for future freedom.


Subject: Now, that's truth and courage...Thanks Odell!!!!!
Date: Oct 26 20:50
Author: conformingsheep

Wife and I read this together. All the emotions of our recent exit were relived as we read your well articulated post. (BTW, Got our Dodge letter this week- as in get the hell out of Dodge)

Wife and I struggled through our last Sunday at the Morg, barely lip reading the hymns - at least the Sac. hymn was tolerable - and then tuning out the talks the best we could.

We marveled at the desperation and lost state of the speakers. One lady, whom we know, was sharing a testimony about JS and while she talked I noticed just how unstable she really is. I envisioned her struggles, having known way too much about her personal life, and was awe-struck how she was so wholly dependent upon the Church and this Joseph Smith guy whom she had never met. She had no idea what direction was up, but she claimed the man was a prophet. She kept on repeating this ridiculous testimony in various forms. It was painfully obvious that she was trying to convince herself that all those Joseph Smith tales really happened - as if repeating a testimony engenders any kind of certainty to make things "true."

Prior to coming to church that day, we thought maybe we would scale back and just go to Sacrament. Not after that pathetic and supposedly inspirational display.

We braved our way through Sunday School teaching the youth. We actually read a chapter in the N.T. and just talked with the kids the rest of the time.

My wife went to the car for hour 3, while I tidied up with the teachers, pretty much giving the same lesson as Sunday School, because the manual is a FREAKING JOKE just filled with BS. I testified of the great things Jesus did and his example and made NO mention of "latter day truths." A

After class, a 14 year old teacher from a part-member family, (Dad is Catholic) thanked me for the lesson - he had never thanked me before for a lesson and he seemed truly grateful.

We got in the car and knew that was the end.


Subject: Thanks Odell. Shared it with my wife with...
Date: Oct 27 03:36
Author: FreeMind

...the intent of helping her see the conflict we hit when trying to separate our new reality from the so-called truths that we learned about in the correlated church materials, conference talks etc.

Emotonally and spiritually I've already left the church but I'm taking my time as I don't want to rush my wife, who is currently at an earlier stage in her progress.

Nevertheless we're making headway. We've already cut our church attendance down to sacrament only, and reading stories like yours helps us immensely in our journey. So thanks again.


Subject: Brought tears to my eyes
Date: Oct 27 04:00
Author: Taliba

You reminded me of my last day in sacrament meeting. What a day that was. I knew it would be my last, from the moment I woke up that morning.

I'm curious, did you continue to attend UU?


Subject: Re: Brought tears to my eyes
Date: Oct 27 11:39
Author: Skeptical (Odell Campbell)

Thanks for your comments. No, we don't attend the UU anymore. The meeting I went to consisted of many older people. The president of the congregation and her husband told me that they really didn't want children attending. We have four.

I also found that those attending UU services are on the fringes of religious society. They are very agnostic, or agnostic leaning, but still desire religious community. I don't believe in deity and am okay without a religious "family."


Subject: Brilliant Odell.
Date: Oct 27 12:31
Author: Mason

My LDS beliefs had dwindled for well over a decade. However, it was my last calling as a Bishop that caused the final internal implosion. I was only in my first year. The SP had expectations of me being in the calling for five years. At month twelve I told him that it was coming to an end (it still took another three months for them to finally act). Your story resonated with me because I recalled so many similar emotions in the same places (sitting on the stand, in the bishop's office, in ward meetings, listening to speakers, getting dressed to go to a meeting, arriving at the chapel, etc.). I could picture your events as if there. You captured the brutal emotions of the "final day(s)" exquisitely. For the past two years, I have been writing about my story out. After the final days come the release, the joy, the freedom and exhilaration. May I suggest that you take the time to share those days and positive emotions with us some time? I'm sure people would love to hear about that too.

All the best,


Subject: Skeptical, Thank you ...
Date: Oct 27 12:50
Author: blindguy

from someone who has never been a member of the LDS church. The experience of leaving the modern LDS church is so-o-o different from leaving my former religion (Roman Catholicism), and those posters that equate the two are very sadly mistaken. Today's Mormon church is so much less human than its Catholic counterparts that I find myself wondering how people can stand staying in it for as long as they do. Wearing white shirts and ties every week? Three-hour sermons? Testimonies that are as fake as when they were written? The separation of the sexes? Deciding who does and doesn't get sacrament by the officiator? No, you guys had it worse off than I ever did, and for that, I'm grateful.

Finally, this is one post that I would love to have saved permanently. Its eloquence in stating the last day of attending a sacrament meeting by a non-believer is both poignant and moving and cannot be matched. Skeptical, may the rest of your life be filled with the joys that Mormonism sought to deny you.


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