Hel­lo Fam­i­ly,

Ben and I have real­ized there have been spec­u­la­tions involv­ing us and our fam­i­ly con­cern­ing the church. This comes from our fam­i­ly and friends that are unaware of our deci­sion and that is why we feel it is nec­es­sary to write this let­ter so there will be a bet­ter under­stand­ing of where we stand. We have come to the con­clu­sion that we do not believe and sup­port all the absolute truth claims, doc­trines, and poli­cies being taught by the church.

Despite the com­mon mis­con­cep­tion as to why peo­ple leave, this is not some new devel­op­ment that hap­pened over night or because we are want­i­ng to sin, lazy, or fell into the traps of read­ing anti- Mor­mon lit­er­a­ture. The sim­ple fact of the mat­ter is that we have been labeled and judged by many fam­i­ly and friends for our choic­es but yet no one has tak­en the time to ask us what we believe and why it is we believe the way we do so here we are writ­ing this let­ter in hopes to ease any ten­sion some of you may have with talk­ing to us, instead of about us.

The real­i­ty is that we were all born into a fam­i­ly that had already estab­lished its choice of belief in reli­gion and that reli­gion just hap­pened to be Mor­monism. We are taught that we belonged to the most cor­rect church on earth with the prop­er author­i­ty and that we have a prophet which speaks to God and God speaks to the prophet We were all bap­tized at age 8, not because we had had some spir­i­tu­al awak­en­ing and tru­ly con­vert­ed but rather it is the tra­di­tion of our reli­gion. There was nev­er a need to ques­tion or doubt things we didn’t under­stand because we had been con­di­tioned since birth and told every­thing we were learn­ing was true and how God want­ed it to be and it was so com­fort­able to accept it as truth because we didn’t know any­thing dif­fer­ent. We often take for grant­ed the real­i­ty of what it tru­ly means and feels to have a spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence vers­es an emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence. Grow­ing up in the church gave us a sense of enti­tle­ment of think­ing we were bet­ter than oth­ers and had all the answers even though we were taught not to judge.

We believe that we all are inspired and direct­ed by a high­er pow­er that some call God, some reli­gions may call it oth­er names or wor­ship in a dif­fer­ent manor we believe that spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ences are not spe­cif­ic to any reli­gion and we are all inspired and have spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ences no mat­ter what form of deity one may believe in.

In the church we all have ques­tions that we don’t under­stand and when we ask our lead­ers we are told to just have faith and fol­low the prophet. Some are con­tent with exer­cis­ing blind faith or being told such slo­gans such as,” Milk before meat, or we are not ready for the answer” etc etc. We are so eager to dis­miss answers to our ques­tions and left to put them upon a shelf in the back of our minds but even­tu­al­ly that shelf becomes heavy and comes crash­ing down. Many times we have found our­selves being so proud to tell every­one that we belong to the only true church on earth that has a prophet that speaks to God and gives us answers but the real­i­ty is we have many unan­swered ques­tions that even the cur­rent prophet does not under­stand.

We have talked with many of Bens fam­i­ly and close friends here in Boise and they are all very accept­ing of our deci­sion. Many of them have expressed doubts but keep them locked away because there is no struc­ture in place or forum with­in the church to voice those doubts and as an LDS cul­ture those who doubt are labeled as lazy, strug­gling , or have sinned. The real­i­ty of it is that we are all on our own path of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and under­stand­ing.

For exam­ple, when we were asked by a fam­i­ly mem­ber a few weeks ago they asked, “why we were not wear­ing tem­ple gar­ments”. After our response the sec­ond ques­tion was, “ have you or Gina com­mit­ted adul­tery”? I am proud to say No.

Ben was giv­en a large library of books that belonged to his Grand­pa who was a tem­ple seal­er, along with books writ­ten by church his­to­ri­ans. Many of these books per­tain to church his­to­ry and he has spent the bet­ter part of the last 2 years read­ing and learn­ing about the devel­op­ments and the evo­lu­tion of the doc­trine of the church. I have been tak­ing online class­es from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sedona learn­ing meta­physics and mys­ti­cism.

The real­i­ty is much of what we con­sid­er to be divine doc­trine and teach­ing s of absolute truths in the church and tem­ple derived from prac­tices of Mys­ti­cism and bor­rowed rit­u­als of free mason­ry. Teach­ings such as polygamy, polyandry, blood atone­ment, Adam God, blacks being fence sit­ters in the pre exis­tence, etc. are teach­ings that were taught by the ear­ly prophets. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, “ mis­takes were made” – Dieter Ucht­dorf. Peo­ple like Ben are accused of point­ing out the mis­takes of the pre­vi­ous prophets when in real­i­ty they were not mis­takes when they were being taught and imple­ment­ed as divine rev­e­la­tion.

It is unfor­tu­nate that we build hedges around poli­cies and teach­ings by guard­ing them so close, while on the oth­er hand we put up walls of resis­tance because some truths we hear have been hid­den from us and we don’t want to take the time to under­stand them. When we first start­ed to learn some of these his­tor­i­cal events and facts we were both sick with anx­i­ety and lost sleep over many issues. We have been able to rec­on­cile our belief sys­tem with what makes sense to us, giv­en the incon­sis­ten­cies and messy his­to­ry, and we feel com­fort­able with where we are at today with our beliefs. This expe­ri­ence has brought us clos­er togeth­er as a fam­i­ly and has strength­ened our rela­tion­ship with our chil­dren. We feel a weight has been lift­ed off our shoul­ders and has helped us con­nect with our chil­dren on a per­son­al and spir­i­tu­al lev­el more than ever before.

Please do not feel intim­i­dat­ed to talk with us, or come vis­it any­time. We have been try­ing to make time to come vis­it all of you but it has been a busy hec­tic sched­ule with the Fall fes­tiv­i­ties and Hunt­ing sea­son. We are still fam­i­ly and under­stand this may be hard for some of you to under­stand but we want to have a good fam­i­ly rela­tion­ship with each of you. We respect each of you and ask for the same respect in return. We are excit­ed to see you all at Thanks­giv­ing and can’t wait to catch up.

Lots of Love

Gina and Ben

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