Please do me a favor and forward this letter to "Ralph", the man who formerly had an internet page. [His story is on this web site.] You can post any part of this that you like if you feel it will help others.
Thank you so much for telling us your story. Almost exactly a year ago (April '95), I found out the church was not true. I had been a very devout 5th-generation member my entire 24 years. I had had an uneasy feeling and a lot of mental anguish for quite a long time. For four days and nights, I prayed for all it was worth to God to show me the truth or to let there be a change in my life, even if it was something I wasn't ready to hear or something I didn't want to happen. After the third day of prayer, I was leafing through books at my local bookstore in Las Vegas and saw one mentioning the Mormon murders in SLC in 1985. Alarm bells went off in my head when I read about the church purchasing documents from a forgerer with our tithing money, and giving him rare Mormon artifacts too. I thought, "How could a man that talks face to face with Heavenly Father (as I'd been told by my mom my whole life) have been so fooled?" I wrestled with that thought for about 24 hours. Then I decided to take the plunge and read the Godmakers, which had come out when I was about 14 years old. I knew I was forbidden to read it. I called a couple of bookstores and a woman answered at one and said that she had it and that the sequel was next on her reading list. So I went down and picked them up. She was a former Mormon and showed me a lot of good books. She talked to me for about an hour and wished me luck. I sneaked them into my bathroom along with another book talking about Christians vs. Mormons. I was afraid to let my fiancee at the time see, because he was taking the missionary lessons and I didn't want him to see the lack of faith. I was afraid to read them and thought that I would probably feel a dark evil presence while I read them and I was sure that by the actions I'd already taken, that Satan was really trying to get at me.
I didn't have that feeling at all. Finally, after years, probably since around the time I was baptized, I felt a sense of peace wash over me! I really felt free and life was starting to make some sense to me. It was like this horrible dark cloud that had hovered over my head was lifted. I read more books, those of the Tanners, Fawn Brodie, Michael Quinn...
I had thought all the inconsistencies I had found over the years were from lack of knowledge about the church (well, I was right, in a way.) The times I had asked questions to bishops, they were brushed aside. I was told, "You worry about things too much that shouldn't bother you." or "You don't need to think about those things." I was never given answers. It was a relief to finally be able to piece things together and I finally felt a lot less ignorant.
It's been a struggle with family... I told my mom one night, I rambled on for 20 minutes, then she said, "Before you go any further, let me tell you that I think the same way." I was happy to hear that and that she had not found the things in the temple to be quite right either. I've always had a scary feeling in those places. But now she doesn't want to discuss it whenever I bring it up because it depresses her. The other day, she asked me if I'd read a rebuttal book her Home Teachers told her about and I started explaining why it wasn't true and she said, "I knew I shouldn't have brought it up." She doesn't want to lose the close ties she has with her mom and sister.
I went to my dad's house. (He's not active, plays golf on Sundays, but he once was in our bishopric.) I started telling him and his wife about what I had read. I was sure he'd be fascinated. He's a conspiracy buff and loves to study science and all aspects of truth. I was sure told off by him and my step-mother! I was told I'd better have respect for her feelings (she's 1st counselor in her Relief Society, although by my estimates, she should've been ex'd for starting an affair with my father while he was married to my mother, causing them to divorce.) and not to bring it up in their house again. I can understand though and I won't talk about it to them.
My poor grandmother is heart broken. That's the hardest part for me. She found a book that I was reading about Paul Dunn's lies and wrote a note that she left in it saying "You used to have such a sweet testimony. Please soften your heart toward Heavenly Father. Whatever you've done wrong can be forgiven." (Haven't done anything wrong or to be ex'd for at that time.) She's really hurting. I feel sick about it. I used to enjoy going over to my aunt and uncles and spending family time at holidays and such with my entire family. Now I avoid going over there because I'm afraid "The" conversation will start. About why I've decided to leave the church. It really hurts because I love my family more than anything else, but I know a huge discussion will start with my Elder's Quorum President-uncle, and all h--l will break loose.
It was really hard to drop my old beliefs, to separate truth from fiction. I've now studied everything from Judaism to Lutheranism to Tao Teh Ching. Right now I'm going to Unitarianism, because they pretty much let me believe what I want about God... although I don't subscribe to their liberal beliefs about the rest of life. I'm still quite conservative. I really follow science more than anything. I have to go by the evidence I can see in front of my face. I've studied physics in college and a lot of other science. I have to conclude that there IS a God. Though my experience with prayer, and the answers I've received though that I know there's a God also. I'm having problems with Christianity though. I seem to be hearing the same things about the Bible that I did the Book of Mormon. A lot of well meant faith promoting fictionalized stories seem to comprise it. I really love Jesus, but from what I've learned, he was a great teacher, not an actually part of God Himself. From what I understand, the stories of Adam and Eve and of Noah are legends too. But I still have faith in God, and I choose to work towards doing the right thing, and what Jesus would teach. Not because I'm afraid of the eternal consequences, but because I'm so grateful to Him for what He's given to me and done for me. If I can give any of that back by loving the other people and creatures He's made, I'll feel that there is some meaning to life.
Thanks again for your story. I haven't had such a good feeling in my spirit after reading something for many months. I'd love to chat with you sometime. You're a really good person.
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