My Religious Epiphany

1st March 2011

For those of you as yet unaware, I have resigned as bishop of Helston Ward of the LDS (Mormon) Church due to a dramatic change of belief.

Please accept my apologies in advance if anything I say offends anyone. That is not my intention. I only want to inform.

My resignation was not due to sin, nor being offended. And not due to weakness, or due to suffering a nervous breakdown as some have alluded to, but as a direct result of my beliefs colliding with previously unknown truths and been found wanting.

I did not want or look for this epiphany, or expect it. I was shocked and surprised that what I had previously “known” could be shown to be so wrong.

I had previously “known” like every other Mormon, that the Church was the one and only True Church. Unfortunately, that “knowledge” was based on faith. It was based on personal experience and feelings of the spirit, and not founded on evidence of things which are demonstrably True. It was not based on reason or science. My testimony of the gospel was held by me to be true despite a great deal of indisputable evidence to the contrary. In the end the cognitive dissonance was too great and my faith-based testimony could not stand up to good rational reason, and science.

As a clinician I have been trained to look for patterns in a patient’s symptoms before making a diagnosis. Rather than jumping to a conclusion based on one or two symptoms alone. I was trained to think deliberately, clearly and rationally before jumping to conclusions, and to never just use feelings as evidence. How could I ever treat patients based on my feelings rather than evidence based science? How can anyone interpret reality by feelings alone?

So applying the same principles of looking for patterns of evidence my research into the Church has led me to the inevitable conclusion that the Church is not true.

It’s been a big shock to now be an athiest, which is really just an absence of belief in a personal god.

I didn’t come to this decision easily. It shocks me when I think of how quickly my testimony unfolded once I realised I had not been taught the whole truth about Joseph Smith.

By the way, my shock with regards to Joseph Smith was only the beginning! I do not wish to attack anyone’s beliefs, but suffice it to say that when I truly opened my mind and was prepared to find the truth at any cost, even my own happiness, I found that the Church looked very different and certainly not what I had believed for 46 years!

I did not consider myself unhappy with my life in the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. I had been the happiest I have ever been. I loved being bishop and serving my fellow man. I felt closer to God than at any time before in my life.

Then I discovered new truths about the Church and suddenly my life fell apart as my personal identity was undermined by my change of belief. Rather like a grieving process it was very emotional. If I had my rathers I would prefer that my beliefs in the Church were still based on truth.

But my honesty and integrity forced me to resign as bishop.

I feel I’ve been ‘unplugged from the Matrix’, and am now free to think more clearly than ever before. It still shocks me that it could be so. I still wish I believed the Church and Gospel was true, but prefer to live a life based upon reality even if it might appear to be less comfortable and secure.

After two months of mental and emotional turmoil I began to rebuild my identity based on the good values I have always treasured along with evidence-based truth. I value compassion and love, honesty, integrity, and mutual respect. I value truth, no matter how painful it is to accept. I cherish friendships and feel a closer affinity to other human beings than ever before.

Strangely, now that I believe we have just one life, I feel a greater sense of need and urgency to make a difference in the world, and to leave the world a better place for having lived in it, but more importantly to help my children develop their potentials and become their own best selves and to also respect the world and other human beings.

Never thought about things this way until my change of beliefs re: the Church.

I now feel a greater sense of compassion and empathy for all my fellow humans.

It surprised me to suddenly realize I am like all the rest of humanity. The feeling of being special all my life was replaced with a feeling of being connected to all other human beings on the planet in ways I could never have imagined.

It is refreshing to feel less judgemental, about others and myself.

I feel a deeper sense of excitement about life and it’s opportunities.

I am grateful for all of your friendships and love for me and my family over my life. I truly desire our relationships to endure and deepen.

Love to you all.
Steve

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