This is the letter I wrote to my family telling them I was leaving the mormon church and why. I posted it to Facebook so I didn’t have to explain it 13,000 times.
I have decided to leave the Mormon church and I would like to explain why. I will not be bashing the church so please read the whole post. I have not lost my faith in Christianity and intend to join the Methodist church. It is important to me that I explain this to you. I will only be explaining my experience with prayer, scripture study, and church history research. If you notice, I have tagged all my adult family members and made the post private. I did this because I know lots of my younger cousins have Facebook and it is not my place to upset them.
As I was growing up I never questioned the church as being true. I knew my family believed it and I knew my family are all good people. I first started to question the church about 12 years ago while in seminary studying the Doctrine and Covenants. I can’t explain a reason for it, but I just did not feel it was true like I thought I should. After high school I went in the Army with intentions of saving for a mission. I had never read the New Testament and thought being in Iraq, so close to real biblical places, I should. I read the entire New Testament and as I did my faith in Christianity grew. I believed without doubt what I was reading but my questions about the Mormon church also grew. I prayed and prayed for months whether the church was true. Eventually while still in Iraq I received an undeniable answer to my prayers, the church is wrong. My answer was unmistakeable and personal to me. I received it while alone and during silent sincere prayer. I was devastated to the point of tears. I continued to pray hoping for a different answer.
When I got out of the Army I did not go on a mission because I could not preach a religion I did not believe. I did however continue to go to church. I knew that any church was better than no church and I hoped my faith in the church would return. For several years I tried to go along with the church as if I did believe it. I always felt guilt for ignoring the answer I had received through prayer. Eventually I decided I would read the Book of Mormon, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price and pray again as I had when I read the New Testament. As I read them and prayed I knew without doubt they were wrong. Even in unbelief I read them hoping if I was devoted and finished them I would receive a different answer. I did finish them but was always told through prayer they are wrong.
This was now 4 years ago. I had already been questioning the church for about 8 years, 6 since I had been given the answer it was wrong. Prior to this point I had refused to read anything about the church on the Internet or publications. I wanted to know through prayer and scripture study without being influenced by opinions. I decided to see if other struggling Mormons had anything to say online about it. What I found was countless people who had left the church and were happier without it. I found the quote by Joseph Fielding Smith which say Mormonism must stand or fall with the story of Joseph Smith — he is either a prophet or a fraud, there is no middle ground. After I read this I decided to look into Joseph Smith’s history. I found that early church teaching and current church teachings don’t match up as they should when led by a prophet. I found that Joseph Smith’s story of the first vision changed several times in his own words to what it is now. I found that Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud for claiming to be able to find treasure using a seeing stone and charging people money to do it, prior to even starting the church. I learned about the Kinderhook Plates, which were fake but Joseph Smith translated part of them as being from a descendant of the Pharaoh. I learned about the papyri that Joseph Smith used to translate as the Book of Abraham. The papyri is proven to be a common funeral spell scroll with no connection to Abraham. I learned of Joseph Smith’s 20+ wives with at least one 14 year old convinced to marry him with the promise of salvation for her and her family.
In conclusion, I am leaving the church because I have prayed continuously for 12 years and received countless answers that the church is wrong and not one answer that it is right. I am not leaving because of personal sin or because the church is hard. I was worthy of a temple recommend for at least the first 6 years of my doubts. I am leaving because I know Joseph Smith was a fraud, and I will not follow a false prophet. I know most of you will be sad or mad for what I have said. But I hope that at least some of you will question yourself honestly and prayerfully whether the church is true.
If you have read this far, I thank you. I also want you all to know I love you, and I hope you don’t hold this against me. The hardest part of this decision is that I don’t want to disappoint any of you.
The desire for a certain response is so strong. Your efforts to continue to get that “right” answer is very evident. I’m glad you’ve found a good place.