I Doubt It

By B. Very Chill

For the second time in my entire life, I didn’t watch General Conference.  Of course, there’s always that well-meaning person who contacts me to let me know that they were watching Conference and heard a great talk that made them think of me.  Last April it was Elder Holland’s address to the doubters in the kingdom entitled, “Lord, I Believe.”  This time, a friend of mine thought of me when she heard President Uchtdorf’s talk (does it even have a title yet?) inviting those who have left the fold to come back. 

Let me just say, first of all, that it was nice that he acknowledged that the reasons why so many people like me are leaving the church are not just the old stereotypes of being lazy or wanting to sin. It was wonderful that he encouraged members to treat us with respect and honor our right to worship according to the dictates of our consciences. But it was hard listening to his entreaties to come back, because no one knows more than we, the “lost sheep,” know how dearly we wished we could. No one who hasn’t gone through the loss of their testimony knows how wrenching and painful it is to make the decision to walk away. Giving up our social network, risking the abandonment of family members and friends, losing our entire foundational understanding of who we are and why we are here is very difficult.

But the fact is, we can’t just come back, no matter how much we want to. The church is not a social club or a support group or even a family.

The church is an ultimatum.

Either you believe that Joseph really saw God and Jesus Christ or you don’t. Either the Book of Mormon is a record written by ancient Americans who descended from Hebrews, or it is a piece of historical fiction. Either this is the only true church on the earth, with authority given by God to act in his name, or it is just one of many belief systems that lead people (for the most part) to do good things and live good lives. There is no room in this church for people who believe the latter. It doesn’t work. So out of our desire to be true to ourselves and live with integrity, we are forced to walk away. It is a huge test not only of our integrity, but of the relationships that we have built over our lifetimes. It is sad to discover that very few relationships, even in our own families, were really strong enough to withstand this. For that reason, I’m very glad that Elder Uchtdorf encouraged respect and understanding.

However, it seems to me that most of the members of the church did not make that respect their major takeaway. Instead, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with memes of his catchy phrase, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”

Believe me. I tried that over and over again. My brain did that automatically. I really did not want to entertain for a moment that this church could possibly not be what it professed to be. It took a personal crisis to make me even willing to look at information that could possibly damage my testimony. And if you talk to other recent Ex-Mormons, you will find almost across the board the same story. We doubted our doubts over and over again in a desperate and instinctual effort to maintain homeostasis.

But then, there was something else within us that believed that if the church is true, it could withstand scrutiny. And if, God forbid, it isn’t true, that we ought to be willing to accept that new, albeit painful truth. What I found is that doubt or reason is not a human weakness, as I was always taught. Rather, doubt is one of the great assets of the human mind. Here are a few catchy quotes that refute Elder Uchtdorf’s catchy quote outright.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. — Ambrose Bierce

In examining the facts that have disillusioned so many, I found that they weren’t just minor mistakes or errors of judgement as President Uchtdorf implied. My faith could have easily withstood learning about Joseph’s polygamy or the Kirtland banking scandal or even Brigham Young’s racism.  Those could have been honest mistakes or errors of imperfect men. But what I learned were facts that touch every major doctrine and claim of truth. They were not just examples of imperfect men who made mistakes. They were evidences that would stand up in any courtroom that what we believe happened in that grove of trees did not happen. That Joseph really couldn’t translate anything. That the Book of Mormon is a nice story, but fundamentally fiction and mostly plagiarized from contemporary sources.

As much as I hated it, as much as it made me sick to my stomach, I had to admit that all my wonderful feelings and confirmations of the Spirit had an alternate explanation. My emotions were confirming to me what I believed was true. And that is why my Catholic friends “know” that Mother Mary helps them find things. And why my Baptist friends “know” that Jesus has entered their heart and that they are saved. I have no doubt that Muslims rely on those same feelings to confirm to them that Mohammed did indeed see an angel of light and that the Koran is the word of God. I have continued to feel those feelings, even since I have left the church.

So at the end of the day, I felt like Elder Uchtdorf’s catchy phrase sounded really nice, but that it was fundamentally flawed and that I wouldn’t apply it anywhere else in my life or to anyone else. I mean, didn’t I spend a year and a half as a missionary in the Netherlands trying to convince other people to doubt THEIR faith and consider that ours might be true? Why was I not willing to be skeptical of my own faith? What a double standard!

Ya know, I’m sad that so many people watched Elder Uchtdorf’s talk and grieved over me. I hate to be the cause of pain to anyone and I wish that everyone could look at me and feel okay. Because I feel okay. I guess I can’t own their pain. It’s pain that is caused by a belief system that I can’t change for them.

But if I could talk to them right now, I would say, “I’m sorry that you bear that burden. I know you love me, and you hope I will return someday.  It is what all believers hope for those that leave. But I’ve discovered a new and wonderful world of doubt.  And I doubt I could ever go back to a world where I thought I knew so much.”

Robert Weston, a Unitarian Universalist minister said, “Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the attendant of truth. Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery.  A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief. Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false. Let no one fear for the truth, that doubt may consume it; for doubt is a testing of belief. The truth stands boldly and unafraid; it is not shaken by the testing; For truth, if it be truth, arises from each testing stronger, more secure. Those that would silence doubt are filled with fear; their houses are built on shifting sands. But those who fear not doubt, and know its use; are founded on rock. They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge; the work of their hands shall endure. Therefore let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help: It is to the wise as a staff to the blind; doubt is the attendant of truth.”

Doubt isn’t so bad.  In fact, I’ve found that allowing myself to doubt has changed me for the better.  It has opened me up to new people, new ideas, and new ways of living my life.  I’m less likely to judge others and to cling to damaging dogmas.  In fact, my new mantra nowadays is, “I could be wrong.”  Is it possible that someday I will discover new information that will change my mind on this?  Certainly! I could be wrong.  But I doubt it.

101 Comments

  1. Thank you for your comment, Matter Unorganized. I felt completely lost when I realized “anti-mormon lies” were actually historical FACTS. And now the church seems to be sweeping the controversies under the rug by saying “the perfect church is run by imperfect men.” No. Not good enough. How can any member then trust that the things they are being taught NOW are of God, and that they won’t later be dismissed as “false teachings of imperfect men?” My son is currently serving a mission, and I have to avoid many topics when writing to him. I cannot tell him what I believe because I DO think he’s benefited by serving a mission and I don’t want him to become discouraged; however, I don’t think he’s benefited in the typical way. I think he’s benefited by engaging with the “liberal” members in his area. I think it’s good for him to see the world outside of Happy Valley. I hope he learns tolerance, but for now I feel he’d reject me if I shared all of the facts with him. So I, like you, hide behind my screen name, playing along as the life drains from me.

    1. Burnt, I feel your pain. I have two sons who have left Mormonism, and a third on the way out the door. Our family is just now getting a grip on the dynamics of a “part member family”. Whether it be the children or the parents, there is an ample supply of hurt and pain to go around.
      Dony

      1. Consider this, if the whole premise of the church is false, and Joe really wasn’t a prophet, then the only reason it hurts is because you were lied to by him.

  2. Thanks for this! I’m a guy in my 50s, a high priest, a lifelong member, leadership callings on both ward and stake level, and you articulated pretty much EVERYTHING I feel about the church.

    It’s really disheartening to read quotes from old prophets and apostles, and then to see the current prophets and apostles throw the old guys under the bus.

    What of these old quotes:

    “If a faith will not bear to be investigated, if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined; their foundation must be very weak.”

    – Apostle George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, v. 14, p. 216

    “I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression.”

    – Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999

    “If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

    J. Reuben Clark, counselor in the First Presidency, “The Church Years,” Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24.

    “Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”

    President Gordon B. Hinckley (Prophet, Seer & Revelator) Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press

    Except…. If I were to publish the TRUTH in my ward or stake, in a public manner, and put my name to it, I WOULD BE EXCOMMUNICATED.

    How is it that pretty much 100% of what I was always told were “anti-mormon lies” has turned out to be TRUE? Now I read the essays about “troubling” aspects of church history, put out by the church on lds.org, and even the church is pretty much confirming that they have been WRONG, especially as pertains to blacks and the priesthood.

    In Uchtdorf’s talk, he said:

    “And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

    “I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.”

    I’m sorry, but I can’t accept that explanation. One of the church’s biggest selling points is “continuing revelation,” which is to say that the church is led by men who receive their orders directly from God. Consider this:

    “In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.

    “…Nevertheless, given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy, and they made ongoing efforts to understand what should be done. After praying for guidance, President McKay did not feel impressed to lift the ban.

    “…Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

    Race and the Priesthood, http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

    So I ask, where was “continuing revelation” through all this? From Brigham Young to Harold B. Lee, ten prophets in total, was God was silent on the matter? Uchtdorf says that these imperfect men made mistakes. But he also says that these imperfect men run the church. I thought Jesus ran the church. Hmm…

    I am now a disaffected mormon. I do not believe, not one whit, in any of the church’s unique teachings. I doubted my doubts as well, but it turned out my doubts were CORRECT. Jesus said the truth will set you free. In the mormon church, the truth will get you excommunicated. No thank you. So I hide behind a screen name to preserve my marriage, my family, my parents’ love for me (I personally know people who have been shunned and cut of from their families – how Christlike!), so I play along on Sundays as the church slowly drains the life from me.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Matter Unorganized. I felt completely lost when I realized “anti-mormon lies” were actually historical FACTS. And now the church seems to be sweeping the controversies under the rug by saying “the perfect church is run by imperfect men.” No. Not good enough. How can any member then trust that the things they are being taught NOW are of God, and that they won’t later be dismissed as “false teachings of imperfect men?” My son is currently serving a mission, and I have to avoid many topics when writing to him. I cannot tell him what I believe because I DO think he’s benefited by serving a mission and I don’t want him to become discouraged; however, I don’t think he’s benefited in the typical way. I think he’s benefited by engaging with the “liberal” members in his area. I think it’s good for him to see the world outside of Happy Valley. I hope he learns tolerance, but for now I feel he’d reject me if I shared all of the facts with him. So I, like you, hide behind my screen name, playing along as the life drains from me.

  3. Thank you for putting into words what I am yet unable to articulate. My husband and I have been members of the LDS faith for 30 years and 34 years respectively, and we have been raising our 6 children in the faith. On February 2, 2014 we are going to deliver our final testimonies and then hand in our letters of resignation for all 8 of us. Like you, we have learned the “untruthfulness” of this gospel. Simply, it is not what it claims to be. I enjoyed your post thoroughly and it brought comfort to my soul in this very difficult transitional period. Thank you!

  4. I’ve read a LOT of “why I left” or post-mormon blog posts, and this may be my favorite ever. Sincerely, it’s perfection, to the point I may post it on my FB wall. Thank you for your succinct eloquence.

  5. Dear B. Very Chill,

    A friend of mine read this article and posted to facebook stating that he felt very much the same. As I’ve read through your words they have caused me to reflect on my own faith and testimony. Understanding what others are going through interests me too. This article has brought back memories of past doubts and also past spiritual confirmations. In a way I’ve been motivated to study the scriptures more, pray more fervently, and better keep myself prepared to receive spiritual knowledge. Faith certainly requires constant nourishment.

    I don’t share your same almost heroic praise for doubt and doubters. I understand it’s real. Certainly doubt in the sense of questioning is not a bad thing. Nobody should believe everything they are told, or rely on others experience. One who habitually doubts though is nothing more than a skeptic, and one who is doubtful or non-committal is an agnostic. Doubting alone never achieved more than a lack of confidence and uncertainty. I think you would agree that the real praise belongs to the action taken of testing, experimenting, and searching for truth and knowledge. I find it interesting that this is one definition of Faith. Where doubting is disbelief and uncertainty, Faith is belief, testing, experimenting upon the word, but not a perfect knowledge. And if it be truth, then the truth will grow up strong and bear fruit.

    The process of experimenting, searching, and testing is important. For example, if you wanted to know more about a Horse and it’s anatomy, you might cut open a horse rather than a frog. After years of study, I would argue you still wouldn’t have a perfect knowledge of the functioning of that anatomy, and that’s okay. You may have gained some truth and even some respect for God’s creations.

    In our search for Spiritual knowledge are we looking in the right places? Do Man and Science have the answers? In reference to Elder Uchdorf’s conference talk and catchy phrase, have you doubted man? Have you questioned Man’s/Science motives? or capacity to realize absolute truth? How much does man really know? Sure we’ve discovered the earth is round, created some fun gadgets, and made progress in medical prognosis. We’re pretty great alright. More directly to what i’ve read in this thread, is reading some scientist’s findings about the DNA of Indians really the best way to know if the Book of Mormon is of divine origin?

    I understand that things of the spirit are difficult to grasp. Especially if signs or proof are the only answer acceptable. On top of that, these evidences of contemporary sources of The Book of Mormon and DNA evidences are compelling. You may feel betrayed upon learning about multiple versions of the first vision, original writings of the witnesses of the plates, and of Joseph being a mason. Why hadn’t the church told you of these things before? And catchy thinking like BITE and Shelf may seem brilliant. My experience with personal revelation is that God uses what he’s got, imperfect people and all. He certainly can’t pull from an empty well either. When I’ve been enlightened or received revelation, those thoughts or words that came to mind weren’t always new, but penetrated with greater meaning.

    The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has born beautiful fruit for me and my family. The Spirit has born witness to me that Joseph was a prophet, that he saw god, and that the Book of Mormon is of Divine Origin. This book supports the bible as a witness of our Savior. As you exercise faith in your search for truth and knowledge of god, I hope that the scriptures and prayer will be your main source. I hope that you do not become closed to the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. You would be welcomed back any time. I wish you and your husband the best.

    1. You said, “Certainly doubt in the sense of questioning is not a bad thing. Nobody should believe everything they are told, or rely on others experience. One who habitually doubts though is nothing more than a skeptic, and one who is doubtful or non-committal is an agnostic. Doubting alone never achieved more than a lack of confidence and uncertainty.”

      I was not praising habitual doubt or non-commitment. On the contrary. I was emphasizing the fact that those of us who left were so committed to the truth, that we were willing to sacrifice our social connections, our previously held beliefs, and our own reputations in order to follow truth.

      You also said, “if you wanted to know more about a Horse and it’s anatomy, you might cut open a horse rather than a frog.” I assume you mean that the only place I should be looking for whether or not the Church is the only true church on the earth is the words and writings of said church. Would you give a Jehovah’s Witness the same council? Don’t read anything that wasn’t written by someone outside your faith that might provide an alternate explanation or a critical view. I think you know what I’m getting at. Sounds pretty ridiculous when you apply it to anyone else.

      You said, “In our search for Spiritual knowledge are we looking in the right places? Do Man and Science have the answers?” First of all, one of the great things about true science is a continual curiosity which is born of the assumption that there is more to be learned–that the human brain in the pursuit of knowledge through the application of the scientific method DOESN’T have all the answers. This is in comparison to the brain that I used to have which had lost much of its curiosity because I supposed I had all the answers provided to me by God through prophets.

      Secondly, I am supposing here that you meant I shouldn’t be looking anywhere but scripture for whether or not the church is true. Again, would you tell a Quaker, who has the scriptures of Anne Hutchinson, that they need look no further than Anne’s revelations to determine spiritual truth or to determine whether the Quaker faith is the one true faith? I think you would answer that if a Quaker did that, they would never find the REAL Truth (with a capital T). Yet here we are in the Mormon Church creating a closed circuit where no new information is admitted in–only that which was produced by our so-called prophets. If Joseph Smith was a fraud, how would you know it unless you looked outside of the world that he created for you?

      Some more of your questions:

      “In reference to Elder Uchdorf’s conference talk and catchy phrase, have you doubted man?” – You betcha. I doubt man more and more all the time because I realize how susceptible our brains are to manipulation from without and confirmation bias from within. See this great article to help enlighten you on just how susceptible we all are: title=”Scientists’ depressing new discovery about the brain” target=”_blank”>http://www.salon.com/2013/09/17/the_most_depressing_discovery_about_the_brain_ever_partner/

      “Have you questioned Man’s/Science motives? or capacity to realize absolute truth?” – Absolutely. See previous answer. Plus I am beginning to realize that Joseph Smith had some pretty interesting motives too. I’ve decided to put him in the “Man” category along with all the other “Men” of humankind.

      “How much does man really know?” – Not a whole lot, it seems. But a heck of a lot at the same time. See this awesome video:

      “More directly to what i’ve read in this thread, is reading some scientist’s findings about the DNA of Indians really the best way to know if the Book of Mormon is of divine origin?” – Ummmmm, that and about 10 other facts that debunk the Book of Mormon outright. Like:

      1. The fact that there is NO geological evidence of mighty earthquakes around the time of Christ
      2. Thousands of changes to the Book of Mormon, including substantive changes to the concept of the Godhead
      3. Duplication of the same mistranslations that were in Joseph Smith’s Bible. (clear evidence of plagiarism)
      4. The fact that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon described in their own words how they didn’t really see the plates with their physical eyes, but rather their “spiritual eyes” like viewing a “city through a mountain.” Say Whaaat?
      5. The fact that a book entitled “A View of the Hebrews” was published in 1823 by Oliver Cowdery’s clergyman, which put forth the idea of the Native Americans being descendants from the lost tribes of Israel, and contained the same storyline as the Book of Mormon. Equals content for plagiarsm.
      6. The fact that the use of King James English in the Book of Mormon is incorrect.
      7. The fact that there is NO archaeological evidence of the massively huge civilizations that supposedly existed in the Book of Mormon, nor for the massive military campaigns and slaughters. (We should be able to find a few swords or something, right? Nada.
      8. The fact that the Book of Abraham is a fraud. If he couldn’t translate the papyrus, what makes you think he could translate the plates – assuming they really existed? Because remember, nobody actually physically saw the plates.
      9. The fact that it is impossible to build a ship that is completely airtight, with a hole at the top and a hole at the bottom that can hold all kinds of animals with no means of sanitation, that can roll over and be buried under the sea for days, with no means of ventilation. I just believed that was the coolest ship until I finally admitted that such a ship was impossible. Okay, I guess God could do it. Maybe. except. . . Whaaa??
      10. The fact that Moroni’s Promise can be explained by the fact that when our brains get confirmation of something that we want to believe, it drops large amounts of dopamine into our systems that make us feel really good. Almost like. . . a burning in our bosoms!

      Look, I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist or that you or anyone else can’t receive revelation. I have had many spiritual experiences that have pointed to the existence of a higher power. However, is this proof that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth? Hardly! I know lots of people who have had similar spiritual experiences and guidance. If there is a god, he certainly does work with what he’s got. Regardless of faith or non-faith status. We have continued to have spiritual guidance.

      I’m glad you like the Church and it works for you. In the face of all the contrary evidence. For me, I’ll quote a good friend of mine who said, “I can do faith in the absence of evidence. I can’t do faith in the face of contrary evidence.” No matter how good it feels or how much it works for me. That is my commitment to Truth with a capital T.

      1. Mankind is innocent because he lacks the ability to discern truth from falsehood. God is love. God does not judge, we judge ourselves.

        In the mormon church I was taught to see everyone one as God sees them so that I could love them with unconditional love like God loves us. Then I started thinking that occasionally God will kill a group or large groups of his children for disobedience as is stated in the BOM and the Bible. How can God be unconditional love and occasionally kill his children? It did not make sense. Why didn’t he kill Hitler? Was Hitler not fully ripe in iniquity?

        If we see God as judging, condemning, punishing, we will see ourselves as judging, condemning and punishing. We cannot see ourselves better than we see God.

        God is love, he is not what is portrayed in the BOM or Old Testament.
        I have found my peace but it was a horrific road to travel to get here.

    2. I was asked by my 22 year old son to read this article. I am a father of 5 with two TBM, two non-believers, and the fifth and youngest weighing in as “undecided “. ARose, I loved your response. Not that I ever have any problems verbalizing , your post was very much in line with my most important beliefs and understandings. B Chill, I congratulate you on an extremely enlightening and well written article. I have a problem with most of the things on your “top ten smoking gun issues why the LDS church is false” compilation. The Book of Abraham is extremely damning on its face. But I too choose to “Doubt my doubts “. Perhaps I am quite fortunate in having a perspective that allows me to rely upon my firm foundation of spiritual revelation that I neither choose nor want to deny. One could easily label me a “Head in the Sand” Mormon should they choose to. But I will disclose to you that following my conversion at 18 and mission to Spain at 19, I came back, became disillusioned with my membership in the church and after turning tail to return to a climate where I could rarely see my breath, following 1 Semester at BYU, I left the church and was excommunicated . The story doesn’t end there . I realized what I had lost and based upon previous spiritual confirmation and experiences, I decided that I would pursue re-baptism and restoration of my Priesthood blessings. To save time here, let me just say, only journey back I received a glorious manifestation of what I will forever deem Direct and Personal Revelation . I payed quite a price , but today, 32 years later , I am am active High Priest who can testify to the truth of the restored church, and I do so here and now…
      Dony

      1. I personally have had several very personal feelings of direct revelation, for me that kept me in the church for years, shelving the hard things and doubting my doubts. Logically it doesn’t make sense though and for a long time I tried to figure out why god would give me a proof that totally contradicted what was so logical. Eventually my search lead me to study human psychology, I found out that my experiences were not unique, people of all religions and all cultures had them, and they came to conclusions about god that were in direct conflict with mine. Again not logical. however if these are simply human manifestations of things like cognitive dissonance then it makes complete sense.

        feelings no matter how deep can’t tell you if a story is true or false, they just can’t. If they could then I would have known when Paul Dunn was lying, but I did not, I felt deep spiritual feelings when he told his stories and they all turned out to be lies.

  6. From the pragmatic subtitle of this page, ‘making myth work for humanity’, I expected a broader vision. Yes, it’s nice to be civil; people’s feelings matter. Moving forward from there, all I see here is the same failure of imagination that has always hamstrung non-believers, from the first time somebody had sufficient sense to doubt what he could not see, but not yet sufficient insight to comprehend the invisible. Though it has often been framed so from both sides to accomplish a purpose, it was never purely a binary question, “Either it’s all true as I understand it, or it’s all false! Either Joseph was mired in deception of self and others, or he was some sort of infallible demigod!” No; it’s an organic question. It’s clear that the Church cannot be simplified to an exercise in fundraising. Life is a too-dangerous journey to be begun without the lamp of faith, but there was always meant to be growth from a child’s implicit acceptance, to a man’s competence, to an old man’s mastery; we were always meant to probe what we were given. Faith, rather than a physical or mental compulsion, is an active choice for all of us, so that the crudest blasphemer who pursues the right he knows has excelled the holiest orator who cannot break his own shackles of sin; yet the blasphemer has failed in that his extolling of ignorance has led a hundred ignorant fellows into self-slavery, while the preacher’s inspiration has saved a hundred others.

    Try to think in the long-term. If we continue our current trajectory and become god-like, and procreatively grow up another race of intelligencies, what will we teach them, and from what distance? How much of their self-made fantasy will we wink at? What will we appropriate to our own good purpose? The issue plagued Star Trek characters across many episodes and several series, who grappled with their ‘prime directive’. Or, to switch universes, Uchtdorf’s plea was nothing more offensive than Luke’s plea to Darth Vader: a familial appeal of love to drop his own rebel status, stop his self-injury, and choose the right for the sake of choosing the right. It’s not really a matter of inability to come back, or the explicability of abstractions; it’s a matter of choice and action. If you open the scriptures, and look past their admitted impefections, they will still hand you valuable truth on a platter.

    1. Kudos though on bringing up star trek and star wars universes 🙂 The point of making myth work is taking the good parts and leaving the bad. Myth does give us things to strive for, goals to reach, morals to guide us. The problem is when the myth is taken as fact, where the end result is misogyny, intolerance, abuse and even holy war. All because the competing myths have to be right while others must be wrong. Personally I loved the idea of eternal progression to god hood, still do. I was saddened when I heard president Hinckley say I don’t know that we teach that in reference to the couplet ‘as man now is god once was and god now is man may become’ I like Miss chill clung to my faith for a long time repeatedly doubting my doubts.

      The only reason I left is because truth was more important to me than anything else. I love the idea that we can progress forever, but just because I love it doesn’t guarantee its true.

    2. I agree with Profet on this one. That is all. Wish I could type all day, but it’s pretty hard with a baby balanced in my arms and kids who need me to make breakfast. 😉

  7. I loved this post – my husband found it for me since I am a recent ex mo…but it really touched my heart to know others out there feel the same. I agree with Dan I would like the sources “But what I learned were facts that touch every major doctrine and claim of truth. They were not just examples of imperfect men who made mistakes. They were evidences that would stand up in any courtroom that what we believe happened in that grove of trees did not happen. That Joseph really couldn’t translate anything. That the Book of Mormon is a nice story, but fundamentally fiction and mostly plagiarized from contemporary sources.” I don’t want to debate obviously but I have loved learning more about what happened in the church’s history that I never knew till now. You can also email it to me 🙂 Thanks again for such a great worded post – I am tempted to share it with my mormon family so maybe they can understand me better – but fear it would just go to deaf ears 🙁

    1. See Dan’s post for my sources. And thanks for commenting. I know this is a really hard issue and I know that everyone is just trying to do the right thing–TBM’s and ExMo’s alike. We kind of need to all give each other some slack.

  8. The most important point that you forget to mention or use in your thought process is this, he knows beyond a shadow of any doubt that this gospel is true that is why he is an apostle he needs to know that or he cant be an apostle because to be an apostle you must be able to bear a sure witness that there is a Christ .

    It is not imortant that you believe this to be true or not but if you just look at it from that standpoint then his comments are very valid because once you have a sure knowledge of something then it is a waste of time and energy to doubt it. Let me use an example .. the temperature outside is 45 below zero with a 50 mph wind and everyone in your nearby vacinity knows this then you say well I think I will doubt that and put my summer cloths on go for a 20 mile walk and surely die! There are some things that we know are true and we need not spend anymore time doubting them, that is the position Pres Uchtdorf is in, again he knows the gospel is true and he is a witness of Christ so he has a sure knowledge of it whether you believe or like it or not that is his knowledge and so he can say doubt your doubts but you can only say this if you know what he knows. Your line of thinking and all the quotes are correct only if what you know is not sure knowledge.

    1. I understand your point. I used to see the issue the same way because I was sure without a doubt that the prophets and apostles had some sure witness like having seen Jesus Christ. But once I started studying, I became open to the possibility that even highly educated and successful people can have major confirmation bias. I personally don’t think that Elder Uchtdorf or any other apostles for that matter have really witnessed Jesus Christ the way we have been led to believe. I realized what a huge assumption I was operating under–that these men, the leaders of our church were capable of either deception or confirmation bias. Honestly, I’m not sure whether Joseph Smith intended to deceive people or whether he truly believed he was a prophet and saw God. But from the evidence I have read, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t and didn’t.

      But like I said, I totally know what you mean, because in December of 2012, I was right there with ya!!

    2. I like that logic. That is like saying the scientists of Christopher Columbus’ time had such a sure knowledge and belief that the Earth was flat, why would they bother setting sail on the high seas, as they would clearly just fall off the Earth and die. Well said. Lol

      1. First – The scientists of Columbus’ time didn’t believe the world was flat. That is a myth.
        Second – True science does believe in absolutes. There is always the possibility of something unknown happening , but not the probability.

    3. So when does a Apostle have a sure knowledge of the truth? Because the Church has come out and said that they are imperfect men who have made many wrong statements in the past. When can I trust what they are saying as truth? In twenty years from now will the Church come out and say that today’s Apostles were just stating personal beliefs and were wrong?
      If they have a sure knowledge of the truth , that means 100%. Truth is never changing.

  9. Very B. Chill, so that I may show that I am willing to examine my doubts and not “put them on a shelf,” please share the sources that support your statement “But what I learned were facts that touch every major doctrine and claim of truth. They were not just examples of imperfect men who made mistakes. They were evidences that would stand up in any courtroom that what we believe happened in that grove of trees did not happen. That Joseph really couldn’t translate anything. That the Book of Mormon is a nice story, but fundamentally fiction and mostly plagiarized from contemporary sources.” You can email them to me directly if you’d like, so as not to have to post them here. Whatever works for you. I have no intention to debate them here, I really do just want to find out more about what led you to believe the way you do. Thanks!

    1. My doubts began while studying the information at http://www.mormonthink.org and comparing that information with the apologist sites at http://www.fairlds.org and http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/. I also read the book An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer and parts of Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman (a believers perspective).

      My major dealbreakers were the following issues:
      1. The Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates
      2. The Origins of the Temple Ordinances following directly after Joseph’s initiation into the Masonic Order, including the historical background of Masonry
      3. The multiple differing accounts of the first vision
      4. The lack of archaeological and geological evidence for the Book of Mormon in comparison to other cultures, including DNA evidence that the Native Americans originated in Asia, not the Middle East.
      5. Evidence of contemporary sources for the Book of Mormon narrative, including “A View of the Hebrews,” as well as multiple anachronisms and mistakes.
      6. Original writings of the witnesses of the plates that depict having seen the plates with “spiritual eyes” rather than physical sight.

      I also read Steven Hassan’s book, “Freedom of Mind” which kind of changed my perspective of the church as having only a positive influence on its members. I realized that the church follows his “BITE” model pretty closely and it was then that I realized that I had never really questioned anything and that my life was totally controlled by the standards and time constraints of the church.

  10. This struck such a chord in me. I have re-read it all day. THIS! This is what I have been trying unsuccessfully to articulate.

    I’ve had family/friends defend the doubt meme based on what Uchtdorf was really trying to say. But that only made my point for me. Despite everything he said, this idea is what people took away.

    I, too, have only been out about a year. The scc claiming to be the one true church was a catalyst (along with a personal crisis) that led to the whole of my Mormon faith crashing down around me. My family feels I was never truly converted. That can be the only conclusion in their minds.

    I now lean agnostic. I so very desperately *want* there to be a God. I have much more growing to do, but the possibilities are much greater. Reading your experience that resonates so greatly in me is truly confirming. Thank you for that.

  11. First let me say, good for you and the courage you have shown standing up for what YOU believe in!
    Second… I’d like to add that the “catchy phrase” of Pres. Uchtdorf seems to enforce your attitude about doubting. His urging to “doubt your doubts” is right in line with examing and questioning. Doubting is the way we find answers, and if we are not willing to doubt not only our beliefs, but also doubt our doubting, then we are looking at things too one sided. Doubting is a way to finding answers, whether it be about answers to our beliefs, or answers to our doubts.
    Thanks for your article!

  12. Could. Not. Have said it better myself. Have tried. Have failed. Have left faces looking back at me puzzled or angry. Just know, that you’re speakin’ my language and I like it.

  13. You write down the feelings and explanations so well, I am so glad I stumbled upon this. My family and old friends all worry about me and my husband ever since we left the church. Its hard for them to realize that we ARE very happy, and its not just a act we play. I have never been happier than I am now. Even my marriage is healthier. Thank you so much for writing this.

  14. Prepare to be kudo-bombed! I came here from Reddit and want to add my “Thank You” to all the others I see in these comments!

    Out of all the wonderful goodness in this blog article, my favorite is the truism that the Mormon Church is an ultimatum. That is such a succinct handle on many of the issues regarding the religion and apostacy from it.

  15. Thank you! Beautifully put. I resonate so well with your words. It is not easy to doubt and one does not tread lightly when stepping into the sea of doubt.

  16. You may want to reconsider the way you’ve worded this sentence: “I have no doubt that Muslims rely on those same feelings…”

    It sounds like you’re making an assumption based on a limited knowledge of Muslim belief and epistemology, and using the phrase “I have no doubt” to make a rhetorical argument. It’s okay to make an assumption about Muslim epistemology but don’t then project certainty about that assumption!

    Great post. I think you dig into some fundamental issues with Mormon culture and theology that Uchtdorf ignores.

    1. Thanks for the constructive criticism. I’m not very experienced with blogging. Is it kosher to go back and edit my language? Because I think you are right. I can’t say that with certainty. It was an assumption based on my own experience.

  17. Well written and while I’m a skeptical believer I really appreciated your POV and the way you went about this. For the first time in my life I didn’t watch and it was part because of where I live (The Middle East) but now that I’ve started to read and follow up on the conference I’ve tried to read between the lines and the memes.

    Thanks

    1. It’s great to do that. This is the first time I have ever looked at a Conference Talk with a critical or skeptical eye. It was a very enlightening experience.

  18. Outstanding. I am constantly amazed and comforted as I continue to find more and more people who share my experiences and my thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

  19. I’m a Mormon that still believes in the religion, and I’m a bit confused here. Why is it that people who leave are always so anti-religion? Why do you have to create entire websites and blogs talking about why you don’t practice anymore, and why it’s wrong? Why can’t you just leave and live your life quietly? I think it’s because deep down inside of you there is still that seed of faith. You still have that little bit of hope.

    I’m not trying to be mean or anything here. Just confused why you leave but don’t really leave it behind you.

    Enough with the quotes! Anyone can find quotes that will justify any point you want to make; it means absolutely nothing!

    “I have a rule: Anything that can be done privately does not need to be performed publicly. It’s why I love the gays but I hate their parades. Actually, I hate all parades. Marching to celebrate something you’re born as seems silly. (As I write this, St. Patrick’s Day is in full bore in Midtown. It’s delightful how celebrating a heritage requires you to pick fights with strangers and then pee in a parking garage. The upside—the sea of clover-painted drunks moving in unison—might be the only green energy I’ve ever seen work.) And what’s the point of a parade anyway? A bunch of yahoos who share some affinity, walking in one direction? Who decided this was entertainment? For previous generations, this was called a migration, or more often, refugees fleeing for their lives”
    -Greg Gutfeld

    1. It has to do with personal trial and trauma (emotionally impacting experiences that leave you fundamentally changed after going through them) Once a person experiences something that has catapulted them to a new realm of consciousness, feeling and expressing, isn’t it fair and right that they express this understanding? ESPECIALLY if the experiences leading to their current state were not pleasant, not hoped for, and filled with second guesses, days/weeks/hours/years of difficulty?
      One of the most beautiful experiences we have is witnessing and sharing our own and others’ life experiences. We actually have neuro pathways designed to be activated and cultivated in this vicarious manner. LDS individuals find bearing their testimonies AMAZINGLY beneficial for this exact reason (as to many other opportunities for self expression in MANY other expressive and intellectual platforms)

      You shared how you feel… while simultaneously expressing to another person that they shouldn’t do the same?

      Think on that. Jesus makes plenty of metaphors as to what that behavior could be indicative of in ones life. (something about slivers and planks of wood I think)

      …Just sayin.

      Love: is something that mostly ALL of us imperfect, human, people-creatures will always fall short in actually behaving in-line with. Love and true respect is a cause leaders from many belief systems have expressed, taught and even died for. (Even the ones who don’t believe in “God”)

    2. I agree with Swanhorn’s reply. It’s not so much that I can’t leave the church alone. In fact, this blog post was my first attempt at writing anything since my disaffection from the church. It was so very traumatic and difficult that I couldn’t even bring myself to write in my journal about it. This blog post actually began as a letter to a friend.

      The fact is, I am finally working through the healing process. I went through a major paradigm shift. Writing, talking, and connecting with people about this experience has helped me to begin to process and heal. Losing your testimony is very much like experiencing the death of someone you love deeply. I experienced every phase of the grief process (denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance). I’m not out to destroy the church or your testimony. I’m simply working through my grief and hoping that by reaching out there to connect with others I might find understanding and healing.

    3. Dear Bill,

      I have left but the home teachers, EQ president, bishop and every other mormon in the ward can’t seem to leave me behind them. It goes both ways my friend. Please reread your 11th article of faith and remember it applies to mormons that leave as well. I have SLOWLY, and quietly distanced myself from the church but was confronted by my bishop, stripped of my temple recommend, and threatened simply because I expressed to my bishop, in the privacy of his office, that I didn’t believe in the claims of the church. He hastened my exit and now can’t seem to be satisfied with my departure as he is convinced I’m sinning in some way. No, there is no room for those that doubt, even privately. Lip service does not replace action.

    4. To all those that say that Ex-Mormons should just quietly leave the LDS Church alone and not discuss their new beliefs with anyone or share what they have learned about the Church, I say this:

      The LDS Church has over 50,000 missionaries in about 350 missions, has countless websites attempting to white-wash difficult questions and come up with convoluted explanations all in an attempt to support the Church’s “doctrine”, has websites such as Mormon.org that gives the “testimonies” of countless “Mormons” and their “beliefs”, and the Church has the audacity to tell its Membership that no other church is true, thus telling the rest of the nearly seven billion people on Earth that they are all wrong and only LDS Inc and its shareholders are right. Who exactly is picking on who?

      Ex-Mormons that discuss being Ex-Mormons are simply sharing what they have learned about the Church: That it is False.

      As I have said before, if you partook from a well that had water that was sweet and shade that was cool, and you discovered that it was poisoned, would you not warn others? Or would you just let them partake in ignorance and let them grow ill and die (spiritually in this sense)? No, you would feel an obligation to let them know the well was poisoned. You would feel just as great an obligation to let them know the water they were drinking was poisoned, just as great an obligation as those 50,000+ missionaries feel to propagate the lies they have been taught that they think are truths.

      You would also feel an obligation to reach out to others that have left the Church to share with them the message that just because LDS Inc is a lie, it does not mean that God does not exist.

      Joseph Smith sought three things: Sex, Money, and Power. He did an amazing job of getting those three things in the name of the “Lord” and Brigham Young did an even finer job.

      Even today’s “leadership” is doing a fine job. After all, old Tommy Monson’s $1,000,000+ Audi surely wasn’t an extravagant purchase for a Church that makes members scrub toilets and pay tithing before rent.

        1. Dony,

          I am not bitter. I am disgusted. There is a difference.

          I also feel very sorry for those that believe old Joe’s lies. They are so indoctrinated that they will believe anything and simply dismiss their own logic and reason.

          Tell me, Dony. If you believe, then why are there not men on the Moon that dress like Quakers? Why is there no DNA evidence or physical evidence for the BOM? Why is the BOA a total mistranslation? Why are the three degrees of glory stolen from another author pre dating old Joe the con man? I could go on forever. These are things old Tommy and his boys don’t want you knowing. Why else did the big 15 make the SCMC? Why else do they search out scholars that publish the truth and quickly excommunicate them?

          Keep believing in Santa Claus, because you get the warm and fuzzies because of him, but one day, you will wake up and you will realize you have been lied to and been a fool to have believe such lies, and you too will be disgusted when that day comes.

          And if it doesn’t come, tell your convenience store Santa not to send his elves knocking on doors in my neighborhood, as I have already warned them that Santa does not exist.

  20. I really appreciate this article. My husband is an ex-Mormon, but his entire family, most of his friends and myself are LDS. When he tries to get this same point across, it often becomes confrontational and a lot of the time, he is vilified and accused of the standby reasons for leaving the church by those with whom he interacts. This thoughtful and respectful post is one that he and I can share with others, and I think and hope it will only bring more understanding instead of more arguments. He has taught me to trust my instincts and confront my skepticism head on – and that’s something I wish more people had encouragement to learn and do for themselves. Anyway, thanks.

    1. Wow. It is so great to hear how supportive you have been of your husband. The scariest thing about having and voicing your doubt or unbelief is the fear of losing your family. My husband (who was also a total believer) was the first to go down that road while trying to “save” one of his best friends who had left the church. It was really hard and I’ll admit we went through moments where we didn’t know if our marriage would hold up under the pressure. But ultimately I chose the path of loving him and respecting him instead of stonewalling him. That lead me to do my own research in order to understand him. So here I am. Not where I ever expected to be, but I’ve found that our marriage has grown so much as a result of that unexpected journey.

  21. Funny how the comments were warm and fuzzy until someone disagreed with the group think here. Dan, continue to choose to believe and others choose your own path but let each choose for themselves instead of trying to make one’s doubts someone else’s.

    1. I think it is disingenuous and snarky to call a few positive comments “groupthink.” The same could be said of the members of the church, especially in Fast and Testimony Meeting. People tend to gravitate towards those who share common beliefs. It’s human nature. Leaving the church leaves us in need of a community of people who understand where we are and where we have come from. Let’s keep it civil here.

  22. You wonderfully articulated several points that I have thus far been incapable of articulating to my LDS friends/family. I can’t thank you enough for putting your thoughts into words – words that I will now proudly share with my aforementioned friends/family. You know how LDS members often proclaim that they felt as if a General Conference speaker was speaking directly to them, due to whatever they have going on in their life at that time? That’s how I feel about this blog post.

  23. Well written, and I respect your feelings. However, I disagree with your assertion that there is no room in the church who have doubts. I am an Elders Quorum President, and I have doubts all the time. I have an open enough mind to acknowledge that there is the possibility that Joseph Smith was not actually a prophet, and the Book of Mormon might not actually be true. I hope that it is true, and I CHOOSE to have faith that it is true, but faith is not a perfect knowledge. In order to maintain my faith, I have to constantly pray and ask for help in maintaining my testimony. And I don’t think that means I am not being true to myself, or not living with integrity. It is simply a choice that I feel is best for me and my family.

    1. It is interesting how much effort it takes to believe in something you fundamentally question. To have faith in spite of doubts is heralded as good by the leaders. Have you ever wondered why? If in fact it is false, then the only reason for the church to exist it to make money. That and be a good club to inspire each other. If people stop believing and leave the money stops flowing and the club collapses. Like it or not, the leaders want you to keep believing in spite of your doubts and there doesn’t have to be a noble purpose for doing so.

      To take this path of ignoring doubt requires one to build a ‘shelf’ for them. A place to put them away and not question there validity. It requires you to be less than honest with yourself repeatedly. I’d suggest reading the collapse of my shelf for a different take on your suggestion.

      As for room in the church for doubt? I beg to differ and my evidence is the temple recommend interview. You are asked if you have a testimony of the restoration. Testimony implies knowledge, not just belief. You need to know in your heart and head that Joseph Smith actually was a prophet to the point you would be willing to take to the witness stand and bear testimony of it. I don’t see room for doubt in answering that question. They don’t ask you if you ‘hope’ the restoration happened, they ask if you ‘know’ it. To me it is a way of telling you to be fundamentally dishonest with yourself. I know because I did it. If you doubt they say your testimony comes in the bearing of it! Get up and tell people you know and then you will know. If you don’t really know you are supposed to lie and then you will know after you lie. Its called a leap of faith but that doesn’t change the fact you are told to say something that isn’t true to gain the belief that it is. Turns out this is actually some pretty well known psychology. People, due to an effect call cognitive dissonance, will justify what they did after the fact, our brains will actually confirm our actions after, not before.

      Room for doubt? not if you want to go to the temple…

      1. Going to the temple, however, is different than being a member of the church. What does the church teach about smoking and drinking? So, do they teach to exclude and shun those who smoke or drink? No, the policy is to accept them with open arms into the congregation. That being said, I think some people have very different definitions of “testimony” than yours. I don’t think it needs to be a perfect knowledge. There are many scriptures that would back this up.
        One other thing: Elder Uchtdorf advised us to doubt our doubts. Y’all are treating it like he said “do not doubt”. Those are very different things. The power of doubt is obvious, and the quotes above all support it. Elder Uchtdorf also supports it, telling us to doubt even our doubts. The point is that everything deserves doubt, but faith shouldn’t be doubted any more than anything else just because the world is moving toward doubting faith.

        1. Personally I spent years doubting my doubts, putting item after item on my shelf choosing to believe in spite of the evidence. I haven’t met an exmormon yet that didn’t put tremendous effort into doubting their doubts. The issue with this talk was what miss chill said, people hear it as “doubt your doubt never your faith.” I have no problem with people doubting and even questioning your doubts. I think that part is a good thing. However to build a shelf and set them aside without honest examination, that is simply lying to oneself in my opinion.

          As for the definition of ‘testimony’ I used the conventional word description in the dictionary. You know the one that means testifying in court?

          If I understand you right to you ‘testimony’ means you ‘hope’ it is true but you don’t really know it.

          I do agree being just a member without the temple doesn’t require you to not doubt. But doesn’t that mean you don’t get the gift of an eternal family if that is the case?

      2. Well I suppose it depends on the person. Because I sometimes have doubts, to me does not mean I don’t have a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I do believe he was a prophet. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have any interest in going to the temple. I was just trying to say that faith is not a perfect knowledge, and I am comfortable acknowledging that my testimony is based on faith. Right now my faith is stronger than my doubts, so when asked if I have a testimony, I say “yes.”

        1. I can understand where you are coming from Dan, for several years my ‘shelf’ held up, it held all those doubts away from my faith. Eventually though I had to stop telling myself there wasn’t any merit to them because I knew there was. I realized I was actively suppressing my ability to think about them, I was actively ignoring them. It wasn’t me choosing faith over doubt, it was me choosing to lie to myself.

          It wasn’t easy, it meant some serious repercussions, but I eventually chose the follow truth no matter where it lead. I followed the primary song example, do what is right and let the consequence follow. They were some rough consequences. But as only those who have followed the same path can understand, living authentically and doing as Shakespeare counseled “this above all else to thine own self be true” is unbelievably fundamentally satisfying after years of pretending your doubts weren’t that big a deal.

          http://churchofthefridge.com/the-collapse-of-my-shelf/

          1. I dont think thats what God wants… “to thine own self be true” I think he wants us to be true to Him.

            All of this discussion is really interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

            I have a thought to share for those members/former members of the LDS faith; We have our personal beliefs. We either hope that the church is true, or we really hope that it isn’t true. Isn’t that the ultimatum?

            No doubt.

          2. Why do I get the sense that you totally didn’t get my post? I’m sorry, but how clear can I be that there was nothing I hoped for more than for the church to be true? It was my reason and conscience that compelled me to listen to the hard evidence and judge for myself. And if you haven’t heard the evidence or studied it, then how can you say for sure that the Church is true? Why do we have the ability to reason, and why do we have a conscience if not to be used? How do you know that the God you worship is the true God, if there is one at all? How do you KNOW that what you consider his word was not fabricated by a man? (Or several, as the case may be.) How do you know that you aren’t just being true to Joseph Smith?

            Here’s the problem. I hoped it was true. I cried my eyes out hoping that there was some way it was all true. The hardest thing I ever did was to shed my bias and open myself up to truth NO MATTER WHERE IT LED ME. Isn’t that what we professed to believe? Do what is right, let the consequence follow? I realized (and this is basic psychology) that if I hoped either way, I biased myself. I clouded my ability to accept evidence, facts, and truth because I had a preference. It’s called confirmation bias. You can make the facts support whatever you hope the truth to be. This isn’t about faith. It’s about facts. There was no steel, chariots, or horses in ancient America. The papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was supposedly translated were nothing more than a common funerary text. The Native Americans are descended from Asia. Joseph Smith was arrested, tried, and convicted in a court of law for being a conman, claiming he had the power to divine the locations of buried treasure, which he could not do. Joseph Smith joined the Masons just weeks before instituting the temple endowment, and the rites, passwords, and handshakes were almost identical to that of masonry. These are all facts. They are non-disputable. And there are a heck of a lot more. This is the tip of the iceberg. So doubt, I think, is called for here.

          3. “The hardest thing I ever did was to shed my bias and open myself up to truth NO MATTER WHERE IT LED ME.”

            I feel the same way. Once I did that it was like a world opened up that I had never seen before.

    2. one more note, once my shelf collapsed and I let my brain process information freely without stamping down any doubts it was a hugely liberating feeling. I agree if you dedicate your life to wanting to believe you will. I am confident that if you tried hard enough you could believe the entire world was a uniform shade of pink…

    3. I totally respect where you’re coming from. I actually had this very conversation yesterday with a good friend of mine who is a TBM (true believing Mormon) and she expressed the same sentiment, that there definitely is room for doubters in the church. I think you are right for someone like you. But I’m a little bit different from you. I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and I believe that the evidence leads me to that conclusion in a pretty undeniable way. So that there excludes me from temple attendance. I could not with honesty answer the temple recommend question about whether or not I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God in the affirmative. Our good friends had their temple recommends taken away from them when they expressed their beginning doubts. They were also told that if they expressed any of their doubts or shared any of the information that caused them to doubt that appropriate actions would be taken. This was a threat of a church disciplinary counsel. You are still on safe ground because you still have a testimony. But I wouldn’t fit in very well at church at my level of Deconversion.

    4. “In order to maintain my faith, I have to constantly pray and ask for help in maintaining my testimony.”

      Having to try so hard to have and maintain a testimony of a church that believed so many wacky things and had so many disturbing policies is why I always doubted. Once I learned the facts about the church that were kept quiet by its leaders–that is what helped me know the truth, and it is so peaceful to know the truth and not have to rely on faith. No faith needed.

      1. I have a brother that introduced me to some of the information that gave me doubt, as I progressed out of the church he grew stronger in it.

        I once asked him how he could know this stuff and keep the doubts at bay. He said he had to flood every hour of his waking life with church stuff. He did too, he listened to conference talks over and over 6 hours a day while he programmed at work.

        If you flood your mind with anything you will eventually believe it, it’s called brain washing, Elizabeth Smart learned about it first hand, she was so trapped that she didn’t even try to escape.

        Things that are really true… They don’t need such active efforts to stay true.

    5. Have you made these doubts clear? Have you felt as comfortable sharing these doubts from the pulpit as you would sharing your faith and the things you believe in?

      If you live in a ward that is truly open to members honestly stating that they don’t think it is true, but want to attend anyway, and you have not been asked to “keep quiet” on your doubts then either you are early enough in the process to have not reached that point yet or you live in a truly unique ward, because the church overall really is not a safe place for an open doubter.

      1. Of course I don’t share my doubts from the pulpit. That’s not the place for it. I choose to allow my faith to overcome my doubt, and I would much rather celebrate my faith than dwell on (or preach about) my doubt.

  24. This was really well written. I love how I felt like you weren’t attacking the Mormon faith. I have been struggling with this too and this article really was nice. The last quote in this article is AMAZING. I would also add the quote “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson.

    1. Thanks! I have always loved that quote by Thomas Jefferson as well. But I never found it as applicable as I do now. I always thought that it was fine to question the existence of God, but that I really didn’t need to do it. I thought I knew God existed. But when you leave Mormonism you kind of have to question everything.

  25. We have so much to offer, and the more we express our selfs the more we cover to offer vastly, imagine if we could find the way to see how many people think like this out there. It is hard, and sometimes I still want to convince my self that there is a big chance all this is true, but I conclude maybe just like you that if God is there/here (still capital G) he would be so happy that I have my doubts and am looking to clear them out. I do love the church, I love ‘most’ of it’s people and would always respect the many things they have done…. I just want to think this could be the foundations of what we as humans are going to eventually build.

    anyways, I do want to ask you, what is your conclusion, your proposal, invitation to everybody in regards the existence of God or the spiritually guidance we should receive, lead or discover.

    1. Well. I would be the last person to even attempt to give anyone spiritual guidance at this point. The worst thing I could do would be to jump from thinking I knew everything as a Mormon to thinking I knew everything as an ex-Mormon. Personally, I’m enjoying the freedom of realizing how very little I know. I am very agnostic at this point. I have had many spiritual experiences in my life that have suggested to me that there is a God and that there is a purpose in this life, but who he is and what exactly my purpose is, I’m not sure. My goal at this point is just to start learning as much as I can. I recently read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I really like his philosophy that the meaning of life is different for each person. He suggests that asking him what the meaning of life is could be compared to asking a great Chessmaster what the best move is. Well, the best move is different depending on who the opponent is, what the board looks like, what point in the game you’re in,etc. I myself cannot claim to be the master of anything. I have only recently discovered that my understanding of the world was inaccurate at best, and that I have a long journey of healing ang learning and growing ahead of me.

  26. Oh, how I could relate to this article. Excellently articulated. Thank you very much for your sincerity, transparency, courage and integrity.

  27. Chill I love this. However I laughed the most at your MLM remark because my husband often refers to tscc as the best MLM scheme ever!

  28. The Fridge giveth to all sexes liberally, you but need to open the door and partake. One thing this church will never be is an MLM! If that is what you are looking for there are plenty of other religions out there!

    Miss Chill, you rock!

  29. THANK YOU!!! That was so beautifully put! There have been many bloggers writing on this, and they’re all doing a great job, but none had quite encapsulated what I wanted to say (and had been trying to put down in words for days). This resonates within me so well. The one thing I might add, if you could find a place for it and feel it’s worth editing, is that Uchtdorf said “Doubt your doubts BEFORE you doubt your faith”. Most Mormons appear to be taking it as “Doubt your doubts, NEVER doubt your faith”. His guidance, which as you noted we actually followed, doesn’t say we should never doubt our faith.

    1. You’re absolutely right! In fact, as I was writing this piece, I had to go back and look at the talk again to make sure the word was “before” instead of “not.”. My brain was filling in what I expected to hear. And I’m sure that was the case for many, many Mormons. I think that you should keep credit for your insight. So I don’t think I’ll edit this piece. But I hope that people will read the comments so they can get the added “light and knowledge” from your thoughts. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. I will certainly do my best. I just had a new baby a month ago, so I can’t promise that I’ll be extremely regular at first. But I do think this is going to be very therapeutic for me to write my thoughts about spirituality and my exit from the church. I haven’t even been out for a year yet. Its pretty fresh. But I’ve always found that writing helps me to process my thoughts and work through my problems much more easily. Thanks for reading.

  30. I’d like to welcome Miss Chill, the 1st Popsicle of the fridge. Obviously and eloquent writer with a talent for clarity she is able expound on the light and knowledge one gets when opening the tall cool one to feed your soul on a sleepless night.

    Enjoy her posts my fellow Frigidarians I know I will!

    1. Wow. I am so excited and humbled to be here. I must admit, after spending a lifetime in the Mormon church, it is quite a thrill to not only be given the priesthood in the new Church Of The Fridge, but also to instantly be promoted to First Popsicle. It’s kind of like getting in on the ground level of a multi-level marketing scheme. (We Mormons know all about those, eh?) Except I won’t make any money and you probably won’t buy me a new car or send me on a cruise. Doh!

      1. This was great. I loved it!

        I particularly liked this part, “I mean, didn’t I spend a year and a half as a missionary in the Netherlands trying to convince other people to doubt THEIR faith and consider that ours might be true? Why was I not willing to be skeptical of my own faith? What a double standard!”

        And you know what? I feel okay too. I know that there are people out there who feel sorry for me because I have ‘lost my faith.’ But in reality, all I have lost is the guilt and the crap. In the end, I didn’t have any real friends who I lost. I mean, the people that I lost obviously weren’t real friends to begin with. Honestly, the only people who are still mormon who are still close to me are probably just my sister and my parents (my brother would disown me in a heartbeat if the church told him to). Okay, so I really do have a few friends who are mormon… but not one of them is that close. And good riddance to the rest of those judgmental losers.

        Doubt is a good thing. I’m much, much happier now – not having the answers – than when I was ‘sure’ of my faith. Faith led me to stay in an abusive marriage. Faith didn’t do me any good when I was ready to take my own life during that time. Doubt, on the other hand, has led me wonderful changes. Doubt led me to finding out that my first husband was cheating… which allowed me to let go of my temple marriage.

        I love this article and this girl. Thanks for sharing!

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