My wife and I were members of the Mormon Church for 22 years. We were married in the Washington, D.C. temple and have three children. During those years, I held numerous positions or "callings" (from God)--as the church refers to them. Among those were Sunday School President, Young Men's President, Elders Quorum President, Executive Secretary, Ward Clerk, and Second Counselor in the Bishopric. I was also a "High Priest" in the Melchizedek Priesthood.
My wife and I left the church about three years ago after realizing we could no longer pretend to agree with many things that we had serious doubts and concerns about. These concerns grew over the years when we realized that "things weren't what they were supposed to be." I came to realize that the idea of one having a testimony of the truthfulness of the church was a totally deceitful concept. The church pushes people to say that they "know" the church is "true." (The gospel is true, the bishop is true, the Book of Mormon is true, and on and on). No one ever says that they "believe" it is true. Everyone "knows" it is. How? You are to pray and ask God, and the Holy Ghost will tell you. I have never met anyone in those years that can actually say that God told them. But most claim a good feeling or a "burning" in the "bosom." But a good feeling or emotional experience is just that. It isn't based on reality. If God or Jesus Christ didn't tell you the church is true, then you cannot really "know." Here is the key to the power the church holds over its members, and it is really important for an outsider to understand if they are to understand the culture and religion of Mormonism. If the church can get you to say, "The Church is true," then EVERYTHING they tell you has to be true also. It is as simple as that.
People believe that this good feeling. This emotional experience is God telling them the Church is true. They want to believe, and they want to have this experience that they have been told they will have if they are sincere enough and good enough. They equate this good feeling, this emotional experience, with knowledge, yet they are entirely different things.
After being in the church a number of years, I began to have doubts that at first I tried to suppress because to have doubts means you are not faithful enough, not sincere enough. So you redouble your efforts and try to pretend everything is ok. You don't talk about your concerns with anyone, not even your spouse. It can cause real distress in your life. One of the great problems I had was with the concept of the priesthood. This is the power to act in God's name on earth. It is represented as being the very power and authority Christ used to perform miracles while on earth. Members hear miraculous stories of how this person or that was given a priesthood blessing and was healed. I never once saw anyone healed in all those years. I was present at and participated in many of these blessings. I saw people get better in a few days as they would have anyway, or I saw people with serious problems who were told that they would be healed and they never were. I saw one lady with cancer proclaim from the pulpit that she had received a blessing from the Bishop and the doctors could find no trace of the disease. I saw her die from cancer that year. Was it discussed? Only in select circles in quiet whispers. When I pointed out to a member of the bishopric that there was something amiss here, I got the pat answer. Maybe it was her time. Well, when Christ healed the blind and raised the dead, it wasn't a temporary fix. I believe faith can cause individuals to be healed. But I have seen that the "power" of the priesthood is an illusion. And I have seen many men very uncomfortable with this duty they have to perform. Thus the guilt trip.
The Book of Mormon is the book of scripture the church rests upon. I was bothered that there has been no archaeological evidence for the claims it makes. Oh yes, the church folklore will have you believe there is. But the Smithsonian Institute denies these claims. Where are the remains of the cities so named? Where are the references to the heroes of the time that should still exist today? Where are the artifacts? The historicity of the Bible is often proven by remains of cities, artifacts, ancient documents, etc. No engravings or representations exist that relate to anything described in the Book of Mormon. The remains found today in Mesoamerica are from the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and others. Where are the remains of the 100,000 killed in the last great battle with all their instruments of war? They were all left in one place yet not a sword handle remains?? How strange. How is it possible that the Book of Mormon quotes directly from the King James Version of the Bible that didn't exist for hundreds of years after the time of The Book of Mormon? How is it that this book, which Joseph Smith supposedly translated correctly and directly from God, has needed over 3,000 corrections since the first printing? (It is claimed that Joseph put the seer stone in a hat and pressed his face into it and that he would give the translation of the Book of Mormon characters to the scribe. If it was correct, it would disappear and more characters appear. If incorrect, it would remain until they had it right). The church leaders maintain that no changes have been made.
I could write a book on such things. I have only scratched the surface of concerns I had. However, maybe the main reason I left was that I was tired. I was tired of the countless hours I was required to be in meetings (besides regular services) that seemingly had no point and served no purpose. I was tired of having to subject my will, my intellect, and my desires to authorities over me. I was tired of coming home from church meetings on Sunday thoroughly exhausted. Most of all, I think I was tired of trying to work my way to "heaven." So I quit attending and just felt numb for a long time. Then I began to read and do some research and compare. I found that the church has greatly changed the Scriptures, early church history, diaries, etc. This is not conjecture. It is easily proven by comparing the original printings of The Book of Mormon, Book of Commandments (Doctrine and Covenants), and other church historical documents with what is in print today. Today there is a sanitized version. Members are not told today, for instance, that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that there were people living on the Moon and Sun that wore Quaker style clothes and lived to be 1,000 years old. They are not told that Brigham Young and other early leaders told the members then living that they would live to walk back to Jackson County, Missouri, to build the temple before Christ's return to earth. They are not told that the prophet said that if the government opposed the church on the polygamy issue that the government would be destroyed. Most members never see these things. Most would never look at them if they were placed in front of them because they are cautioned not to do so. It is all of Satan they are told. RELY ON FAITH AND NOT HISTORICAL FACT should be the official church motto. In fact, a well-known church lecturer and professor at Brigham Young University has stated this very concept in a lecture my close friends attended.
After leaving, the singular piece of evidence I encountered that documents the falsehood of Mormonism is the truth about the Book of Abraham. The Book of Abraham, included in the Doctrine and Covenants, is represented to be the actual writings of Abraham. These Egyptian papyrus were found with several mummies in the early days of the church and were purchased by the church. Joseph Smith then "translated" the Egyptian symbols into English "by the power of God." (Why Abraham, a lifelong Jew, wrote in Egyptian, the language of his enemy, is quite a mystery!) Later, the papyrus was lost and then resurfaced in 1967 in the Metropolitan Museum. By that time the symbols could be translated by Egyptologists around the world. When compared with modern knowledge, it was shown that the papyrus were nothing more than common Egyptian funerary texts buried with the remains and written 1,500 years AFTER Abraham lived. But the church refused to publish these findings to the membership, and since the membership in general avoids non-church writings, few have been affected by it. Remember, faith is superior to historical fact! When I studied this, I was really angry and hurt to realize how deceived I have been.
I believe the church does a lot of good. But it is mostly a vast financial empire based on falsehood. The money it collects is enormous, but the membership is not allowed to know how much is collected or what it is spent for and the more "important" callings only go to the person who pays 10% of their income to the church. The church is unique in that much doctrine exists mainly in the minds of its members, therefore, the church can distance itself from embarrassing incidents that occasionally arise. Cults use mind control. I believe the Mormon Church is a master of this. I have a very good friend whom I told what I had found concerning the Book of Abraham, and instead of investigating this for himself, he relied on faith and called a General Authority of the church who assured him the Book of Abraham is true. So that ended the matter for him. Here again is the danger of the church method. Someone else did his thinking for him and told him what was correct. If you can say the church is true, whatever your priesthood leaders tell you is true no matter what any historical fact might imply. Mormons decry this in any other group but don't see that the same exact method is being used within their religion.
So we are out of the church, but our names are still on the rolls. I do not consider myself a member any longer and eventually will probably pursue having our names removed. (No small matter to get accomplished). I don't think anyone should be afraid of the truth. God gave us a mind and an intellect and expects us to use it. To turn that gift over to someone else and allow them to think for you is scary. I no longer believe there is any one "true" church. I think there is truth and good people in all faiths, yes, even in the Mormon Church. But now, I feel free from the guilt of never being good enough and even the guilt of being superior!
Though Rick has left the Mormon church, he is still not sure what the truth is. At least he knows it isn't Mormonism.
Read Rick's second letter--a response to the Mormons who have emailed him about his letter: Rick's Response