Why Apostates can leave the Church, but can’t leave the Church alone.

Often I hear True Believing Mormons say I should just go away, & get on with my life. Leave the Church alone.

After all, it looks like it should be so easy for us, as apostates, to just walk away.

It seems to be what we should want to do if we no longer believe! Doesn’t it? Aren’t we leaving because we’ve been offended, or have a desire to sin? Aren’t we leaving because we no longer have a desire to live the commandments & standards of Mormon life? The first thing a close relative said to me was, “You’re only leaving so you can sin!” I was shocked! The thought had never occurred to me I could sin if I left! And I was even more shocked that a close relative didn’t know me well enough to realise this was not in my character!

Other friends and family just thought I was leaving because it was easier for me! That my new beliefs were somehow consoling!

Let me now state categorically that there was no consolation & no desire for sin! 

It really is not that simple for most apostates from the Mormon Church.

But, it is difficult, if not impossible, for any True Believing Members to understand the difficult process of transition out of Mormonism. The Church doctrines have been such an integral part of my life since birth that they form a part of my neurology. My thought processes are ‘Mormon’ despite a change of belief.

The doctrines, beliefs & practices of the LDS Church were so well integrated into my life that my personality, who I am as a person, has been so central to my life that it’s simply not easy to ‘just let it go’!

Every decision of my life was influenced by the Church.

I lived my life as if everything depended on my Mormon faith. I ‘knew’ who I was as a person because of the central defining beliefs of Mormonism related to my ‘divine relationship to God’.

When the ‘personal identity’ beliefs of Mormonism are placed in doubt, it is so disruptive to an individual that it feels like a ‘death’! It feels like one is dying on the inside!

It truly has been for me, & is likewise for many others, the most painful & difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Sometimes, I would just love for it all to go away & not plague my thoughts and feelings any further. But my thought processes are ‘Mormon’.

Everything I ever believed is related in some way to my Mormon beliefs.

As a True Believing Mormon the whole world is looked at through the lens of Mormonism. So every single aspect of one’s life has to be re-evaluated. All my references for truth have come through my Mormon faith.

Once that faith is dead, life seems so frightening, till new reference points are made & new paradigms for life are framed. It is like being ‘Born Again’. Initially painful, but ultimately joyful & full of wondrous new possibilities. But just like a new born child, life should be approached carefully, gently at first, till one finds one’s feet & gains confidence in the new world we have suddenly & unexpectedly found ourselves in.

If one accepts the findings of experts in cult recovery, then one can understand just how & why it is so difficult for so many people who leave the Church to ‘just get on with life’  and move forwards!

The other aspect of all this unexpected & initially unwanted change of beliefs is that now I see things more clearly, now I have the benefit of so much more information about the origins of Mormonism, I feel a great sense of compassion for my friends & family still in the Church. I desperately want to share with them what I’ve discovered. Not because I want them to agree with me, but so they are not deceived as I was, but can deal with the truth whichever way they choose. If they want to continue to believe in the doctrines of Mormonism that’s fine, but at least they can have a belief with an awareness of all the facts, not just the sanitised ones which the Church teaches.

Just like when I was a young missionary for the Church, I yearn for people to know the truth.

It’s my compassion which drives me onwards to push the Church to be more open about its origins & history.

All the best in your search for truth,
Steve

This entry was posted in Mormon Issues, Religious Epiphany, TRUTH. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Why Apostates can leave the Church, but can’t leave the Church alone.

  1. Sammy Blake says:

    A good post on one of the issues that affects many of us leaving Mormonism. The “not leaving the church alone” criticism that is leveled at those who no longer believe in it is one of the most frustrating and painful charges that still believing members can level at those who have left the church. How many of us have family members (or extended family or people in our employment network) who are in the church, constantly inflicting its existence, expectations, norms, social life, upon us? The LDS church for us is false, a sham built upon a litany of shams that pretend to real experience of the sacred. The LDS church adds so much external business beyond religious conviction–be a Methodist, be a Taoist, be a Buddhist, believe in a beyond, a God, a saving grace, a mystical component to human existence, a comforting spiritual apprehension to life–one would not be alone in having such convictions. Some atheists might scream and howl in all or nothing criticism. Still, for pity’s sake do not carry excess beliefs and obligations such as those Mormonism inflicts on its people for itself, its own growth, its own interest in control, and on the basis of scientifically and critically demonstrable historical hoaxes.

  2. David Garza says:

    Steve,
    I can appreciate the remarks. I posted a comment in another entry expressing wonderment that exMormons don’t just move on with their lives, rather than continue to explain themselves and find fault with the LDS church. I may still struggle to understand, but you made an effort to explain your feelings and I don’t believe it’s right to say you’re wrong…after all, I haven’t walked in your shoes and know your mind or heart.
    That said, I still have this inkling that a lot of people leave the church because it’s easier to join another Christian church: think of all the liberties and no more callings, tithing, or other constraints! I know that’s too simplistic, though.🙂

    But maybe there is something to this. What I find interesting is that many people leave the LDS church because of the unexplained, yet stay in the Christian faith despite all of the other mysteries. Consider that in the Bible a prophet has sex with his daughters, a man is commanded by God to kill his son (although he’s stopped, WHY would God ever do such a thing?), the _whole_ world is covered by a flood (one guy and his family survives with lots of animals on board that repopulate the whole earth), and there’s a talking donkey…yet there couldn’t be horses in the Americas thousands of years ago so Joseph Smith was a fraud?
    I said “simplistic” and maybe that’s all it is. But it doesn’t make sense to me. I have come to accept that there’s a lot I can’t explain and may not even want to agree with in scripture, but I don’t let it cancel out all of the other good things that I’ve experienced in my life because of the gospel.

    I also find it difficult to hear from other Christian churches that all we need to do is accept Jesus as our Redeemer and we’re saved. OK, check. I’ve done that…and many people leave the LDS church because they come to believe, that, too. But because I may practice other faith-building activities (temple attendance, wearing garments, reading scripture in BoM) I’m doing things all wrong and damned. Really? Doing more than what’s required in things centered on Christ is a bad thing? According to the Church of Christ we can’t have musical instruments in church; so if the Baptists do then they are doing something “more” to the point that they are damned, too? I may never understand.

    I appreciate your efforts to share your thoughts in this blog. I think everyone can take away things for themselves, that it gives you a tool to express your feelings, and isn’t all together a bad thing. Thanks.

  3. Hellmut says:

    Sure, David, there are people who leave Brighamite Mormonism for greener pastures. I am not sure though if you will find them among those who complain about the Church on the Internet or anywhere else. From what I have seen, the people who complain are the ones who have actually taken the Church’s truth and power claims seriously.

  4. Steve D says:

    I have never been a Mormon but have been interested in it since having a discussion with two American female missionaries some years ago. The constant thread that appears to exist in the ‘church’ since I started researching it is dishonesty and not least in its membership claims. The LDS currently claims 14 million members worldwide but any comparison between the claims for individual countries and the number of self described LDS in censuses discloses a constant and often massive overclaim by the ‘church’. While a membership of over 5 milliion is claimed in the US only about 2.3 million people describe themselves as LDS and this figure would include many who are merely ‘Jack Mormons’. In the UK the numbers can easily be disproved by the fact that they have to publish the total sum tithed and if this is 10% of the income of adult members then a few calculations demonstrate that either the members earn on average less than half the average income or the membership is less than half that claimed. In some south American countries the number claimed are more than four times the number who are self-described LDS. They just can’t seem to tell the truth but claim to be its sole repository.

    • cyberrat says:

      Hi Steve I dont think you can use the census data to get an accurate idea of membership as during sensus reports (i am looking at the uk now as i dont know how its done in the US) it is up to individuals to enter religion and i know many active members have recorded thier faith as christian and not mentioned lds. Non active members are even less likly to record lds as thier religion! The problem with tithing is that not every member pays a full tithe so again impossible to find out numbers. So the numbers quoted by the church may or not be accurate ? however i am under the impression the numbers include both active and non active members. many of these non active members would not consider themselves mormon and want no contact with the church. however name removal can be time consuming and overly bureaucratic so the names stay on. In my own ward in the UK only about one third of the members on the role are active! This may or may not be typical of the world in general but it would not surprise me to find out that the entire active world membership is somewhat less than half of total membership claimed by the church at any one time i.e less than 7 million.
      please note i have speculated that the church is reporting all membership and not just active as this is what data we use at a local ward level! it is however possible that the church is publishing figures based on active membership but I have never noticed the church to claim this or make any distinction.

      • Steve D says:

        Hi, I believe that you are somewhere near the truth in this but not quite. A TBM statistician has recently estimated active membership worldwide at around 5 million. The LDS include all non-active Mormons (excluding excommunications and resignations) in their stats until the 110th birthday of the baptised but inactive person! At which point they assume them to have died !! This is obviously less than honest especially in third world countries. Thus the total including inactives is substantially and obviously less than the total claimed. If LDS people are self describing themselves merely as “Christian” in censuses, then why don’t real Christian denominations see such discrepancies? 5 million worldwide after 150 years of the ‘restoration’ might raise the question – ‘What restoration’?

  5. Expat says:

    Steve,

    It is fascinating how similar the Mormon approach to apostates is regardless of where you live. Your UK experience is identical to my US experience. In fact, I’d say that your LDS friends’ responses to your journey out of the church are very typical to how Utah Mormons approach apostasy. My Utah-based experience has been identical to yours, in terms of how church members and family seek to explain my apostasy. I, too, cannot ‘leave the church alone’ and left due to ‘my desire to sin’. This shows, to me, how monolithic Mormon culture can be, overwhelming locality and idiosyncracy tied to a locality. I’m curious how your family responded to your decision to leave. My wife and young sons are still LDS. A positive aspect of Mormon practice and organization is that, after our recent move to Europe, the local ward was here waiting to accept my family with open arms. Mormons are so very nice, close-knit, and welcoming to those they are focused on. A negative aspect is that, even putting an ocean between myself and my former church family, I ironically still cannot escape my roots. Even living across the pond, it’s as if I never even left Utah. For a non-believer like me, this is extremely difficult. That fact alone guarantees that I simply cannot leave the church alone. It won’t leave me alone, if only because I will not leave my family so I can finally leave the church behind. I suppose it’s my albatross.

    I enjoyed reading about your journey. I look forward to more updates.

  6. Travis says:

    Thanks, Steve for this blog. It provides words for an experience that for some is hard to describe. I am in the midst of a dramatic change in my own faith and it is sad how insensitive and presumptuous some can be. I hope that this new found peace will abide with you and find a way into the hearts of your family and friends.

  7. Jenny says:

    I did not leave because my feelings were hurt, or I wanted to sin, or I was lazy. i left because the LDS church was not what I had been taught that it is. I was raised in it, and raised my children in it…..so I am not a convert who just fell away. No I was a full on believing, tithing paying, temple going, Mormon. But I could not live a lie once I actually allowed myself to dig for the truth. I am not sorry. It is hard to figure out it all out when you have spent your whole life in the LDS mind box believe everything you were told. But I am living proof that it is possible to leave and build an even better, healthier, happier life.

  8. Richard says:

    I feel very positive Steve, have plenty of hope and am a Mormon, or should I say a follower and prisoner of Christ whose Church this is, with Love, Richard.

    • stevebloor says:

      Thanks for your response Richard,

      I was referring to the feelings of grief & despair which members go through as they recover from Mormonism.

      Jenny’s experience is being mirrored by many other people around the world as they face what can be a very painful & frightening experience as they leave the only belief system, and for some the only society, they have ever known.

      The Church’s teachings tend to scare people about the world outside the Church. Plus there is the difficulty in coming to terms with reality without the gloss & embellishment of the Church philosophy.

      The reality is that life outside the Church is far less scary than we’re made to believe, once one has disentangled one’s mind from the fear, guilt, biases, phobias & prejudices which the Church inculcates into the minds of its members from the earliest years.

      In that sense Jenny’s experience inspires hope for others who are anticipating, or are still in the middle of a transition out of Mormonism.

      As a faithful, fully committed Church member I could never have imagined life outside the Church.

      When I contemplated my resignation as Bishop, it was the most scary & difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

      Some Helston Ward members said I left because of a nervous breakdown. Others, including some family members, accused me of leaving so I could sin!

      The Stake President suggested it was because I had the wrong priorities, or that I had sinned.

      Other Ward Members told me I left because of my consoling beliefs.

      All of these reasons are wrong & are a million miles away from the truth.

      I never would have left the Church for any of the reasons above. Only for truth!

      I sadly came to the realisation that the Church had lied to me.

      This couple’s experience has many similarities with Liz & I:

      CES Seminary and Institute Teacher leaves the Church,

      One of the personal qualities I’ve always admired in you Richard is your ability & courage to be an individual.

      I strongly recommend everyone to question everything, even their own feelings.

      As you know, I was a fully committed & faithful member of the Church. I loved the Saviour and tried to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind & strength.

      You served faithfully at my side on the Bishopric as we served the Lord & His children together.

      You know my heart. You know I have integrity & I value honesty above all else. You know I would do anything to serve the Lord & His Church.

      More than anything else I value truth & authenticity.

      I believe in the principles the Apostle Paul espoused, & which form the basis of the 13th Article of Faith (of the LDS Church),  “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

      I am in the business of discovering the truth, no matter how painful the outcome is for me.

      In the past, as a faithful, fully committed Church member, I believed in things unseen, unproven and even perhaps unprovable. I was happy for my beliefs to be based on feelings alone.

      I have come to realise that my feelings can be misplaced & was indeed gullibly deluded.

      We are all victims of a massive scam initiated by Joseph Smith.

      I thought I was happy, because I knew no better. Now my eyes have been opened, the world is an even brighter and more amazing place.

      Hundreds of thousands of members around the world, especially where Internet access is possible, are discovering the truth (true facts) for themselves. 

      After the initially painful shock, the rebirth into the real world is refreshing & wonderful.

      Despite previously believing my Church membership & beliefs made me happy, I now realise it was a damnable false hope.

      Happiness is not the determinant of Truth.

      It is a fact that even those who say they are happy, can still be suffering, as they live in a false reality.

      Ask a drunk man if he’s happy, when he’s drunk!

      My focus has shifted to learning about the psychology of belief. It’s fascinating to learn why & how people believe in irrational concepts & even absurdities. Just look at people in other religions who believe in very strange, even bizarre ideas. Just because someone is sincere & truly believes in something, doesn’t make it true.

      Believing in a false reality, even a false religion, has no power to save. Just like believing that black is white doesn’t make it so.

      It’s useful to realise how our minds work. They are extremely powerful & amazingly malleable. This is a dangerous combination & is why mentalists like Derren Brown are so successful, and also how con-men work.

      Truth does Matter!

      I sincerely wanted the Church to be true, but once I realized my feelings didn’t match up with reality I could not live a lie. As much as I desperately desired the Church to be true, the evidence told a different story.

      Though initially very painful, like a grieving process because the Church had been my entire life, life has eventually turned out much sweeter than I was led to believe without the Church.

      Check out:

      http://MormonThink.com
      http://MormonThinkUK.wordpress.com

      And my personal blog:
      https://stevebloor.wordpress.com

      I hope to help members discover the truth for themselves, because knowing the truth has blessed my life, and I believe all members deserve to know the truth so they can base their faith on reality not myth.

      Authenticity & truth are the best foundations for life!

      I wish you well, I really do.

      Please remember I am here as a friend.

      Best regards,
      Love Steve

  9. David says:

    I no longer believe the lie of Joseph’s superstitious fairytail. Including all rites & rituals that has become one of the biggest cons in recent history. I can understand those who describe the “gospel” as being helpful in some way. My children feel the same way about the superstition of santaclause, but eventualy they grow up and become critical thinkers – however painful it may be for them. This is healthy for them, a good lesson about the search for truth and how we can so easily be drawn into a supernatural beleife and live a false reality. Some people just don’t want to search for the real reality. Ignorance is bliss, but not very honest!

  10. VKJackson says:

    Like you said, because the church is such a huge part of our lives, it affects our everyday decision making and choices, as well as how we look at life. I do not think that everyone that leaves the church is an evil person that wants to “sin”, (though I do know many who do) but according to our free agency that is a choice we get to make. Our choices, affect all who are around us, and our families for generations to come. Some people say “Ignorance is Bliss”, and might find it interesting that their are a lot of members of the church, including myself who have read and heard and understand many of the things that have led others away from the church. In some aspects, many of these claims make my faith and testimony grow stronger. Joseph Smith, just like many of us made mistakes…some of them bigger than others, but he was human. Spaulding texts, seer stones in a hat, polygamy etc…Brigham Young, other apostles all the way down to Pres. Monson are also human and make mistakes. That also does not meant that they wereor are inspired, or were led by God to do what they were meant to do to bring about his great and eternal design.

    Also if you listen to such Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hutchins, they have a point of view on science and the evilness of religion. Again, their are interesting points made by them, mostly based on our science, but science to me is ever changing, and our understanding in the universe is also ever changing and if God is God, he is the ultimate scientist and will use science for his purposes.

    Now the main thing that I have a personal issue with in all of the reasons that people leave the church is the fact that undeniably I have felt the Spirit of the Lord, I have had too many countless experiences which I was led, prompted, comforted, and taught by the Spirit to deny such experiences would be unfathomable for me. I would say that most of you would explain away such feelings as brain waves, or hormones, or that we don’t realize what the brain can do and it has such great power as to give us the inclination of spiritual enlightenment…but I would say to you, maybe that is the truth, and that might be God using those very same physical, and scientific tools to prompt us to do those things.

    The main thing that I want to say Uncle Stephen, is I understand why you feel the way you do, I may not agree…but as we all know in the church “Free Agency” is a major cornerstone in Mormonism and it is your choice. Also just remember, because we are also so involved with the gospel, sometimes it is hard to interact because our whole live revolve around the gospel, our conversations, are choices everything you said is true, so on the other side (like us) it is also hard to have interaction when the gospel, or in your case atheism is such a main theme in our lives. It’s hard just to talk about the weather, or the cool new movie coming out, or video game, or camping trip etc… with out or beliefs coming a part of the conversation….I think that is where many people may be having issues…they want to be your friend, and talk, but some don’t know how, or are scared that you might say stuff that will hurt their beliefs, which they hold sacred. Anyways off to work I go. I wanted to post my 2 cents.

    • David says:

      Can you explain why you would use ‘MAYBE’ as a word to support your best understanding and knowledge for your claimed metaphysical experiences?
      Sure human beings can experience transcending spiritual experiences, but why must we equate those same experiences to a supernatural deity?

      I am atheist, I live without a belief in God. This isn’t to say I know there is no God…’I just don’t know’! Because atheism is not a belief it is therefore NOT a motivator. Religious faith is grounded upon beliefs of the metaphysical – and so I return to my original question…Why do you assert that your physiological feelings, “MAYBE”, caused by God?

  11. Richard says:

    I think the difference between us Steve is that I am a convert and really did receive an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost so powerful that I could not deny it, and have had too many experiences, but then you would say I was only being ‘delusionary’ however you want to spell it. That’s enough said from me! Bye,Bye, Love, Richard.

    • David says:

      I think what you are describing Richard – is a method our brains use to maintain happiness. ‘Register the hits, but ignore the misses’. Meaning, we remember the positive events but ignore and forget events that do not support and lead towards desire fulfilment.

      We are pattern seeking creatures, so it’s easy to see how those positive experiences will support desire Fulfilment, whilst ignoring the negitve ‘hits’ which do not support desire Fulfilment.

      Our brains just fill in the gaps to create a complete picture.. A false reality! This happens in all superstitions… both religious and secular.

  12. Jenny says:

    A ton of folks “feel the spirit” guys. Don’t you think that people who give their lives in service as a priest or a nun “feet the spirit” also? Why don’t you ask a nun what her experience is? Why is the Mormon spirit any more valid than someone else’s? I am sorry to say that “feeling the spirit” is not a good way to measure the truth. Besides LDS members are told before hand what they will feel and what it means. LDS member are set up to already interpret “the spirit” the way the LDS church tells them too.
    But you can’t de-convert someone. The journey has to come from within. You can show someone a gazzillion church history facts. You can reason with them. You can argue with them. But if they aren’t ready to leave they won’t. It is a journey that comes from within. My husband says that trying to reason with a Mormon is like trying to throw an egg through a brick wall.
    I wish everyone good luck on their own personal life journey.
    Jenny

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