Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Letter to my family

Below is a letter that I sent to my family today regarding my recent decision to leave the Mormon Church.

Dear Family,
As I am sure many of you have heard, Amy and I have decided to officially leave the Mormon Church. This is a decision that we made through serious thought, study and prayer and it is a choice that we do not take lightly.
Growing up in the Mormon Church has taught me many valuable lessons which I am very grateful for. It has been the vehicle through which I learned to be the best person I can be, to serve others and love everyone unconditionally. It has taught me to be a leader and gave me the opportunity to learn the Spanish language which has been pivotal to my career. It also brought me my wonderful wife and daughter, whom I would not have were it not for the Church.
My purpose for writing this letter is to help you understand our reasoning for leaving a church that has been a part of our lives for many years. I do not wish to go into too many specific details in this letter as that is not the point. I also do not wish to dissuade you from believing as you wish since that is a principle and right that I take very seriously.
Despite all of the good that has come into our lives by being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have come to the realization that the church is not all that it claims to be and is not “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30) Through our studies of church history, we have found many inconsistencies that we can not accept as something that would be part of God’s “true” church. Our studies consisted of official church publications as well as journals of prominent leaders and members. The history and doctrine that we have been taught over the years is quite different then what was practiced and taught from the beginning of its organization and even through modern times. The lesson manuals of the church today fail to mention many of the unpopular or embarrassing teachings of the early leaders of the church such as polygamy and polyandry. In addition to that, many of the key points in church doctrine have been disproven as science, intellect and knowledge has progressed to the point where it can test them. Examples of this would be the translation of the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook plates, the lack of historical facts regarding the Book of Mormon and the fact that people are living on the moon (which was taught by Joseph Smith & Brigham Young).
This has been a very long and difficult process for me. As I sifted through countless pages of information, I found my self with very mixed feelings. I had not been comfortable in the church for many years but with no real explanation as to why. This lead to my inactivity for the better part of two years. Despite my indifference to the church at the time, as I began to study its history, I could not help but feel a deep sadness that what I grew up learning was not what I thought it was. That lead to a feeling of confusion as to why I did not already know the things I was reading. I came to the conclusion that that information was, in some way, withheld from me for a reason I could not understand, which led to anger.
I began to ask myself questions. Why would the leadership of the church feel a need to not be upfront and honest with its members regarding the actual teachings of the prophets of the restoration? What else could they be hiding? Why do they not trust me to take the information and come to my own logical conclusion? These are questions that have consumed my mind and notwithstanding my efforts, I have not found a suitable answer to any of them. The only explanation I can come up with is that the leaders do not value knowledge and intellect. They preach about the need for education but they only put forth the information they want you to see. The truth is obscured from the eyes of the members and many of them (like me) do not even know it exists until they have reason to search it out. They do not want members to find this information out of fear that they will discover the truth that they have been trying to conceal all these years.
Can a church that is not open and honest with its members be what it claims to be? To that question, I have to answer, no. I recently read a quote that touched my soul and took away the confusion I was experiencing. The quote is as follows:
"Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."
- President Gordon B. Hinckley. "Loyalty," April Conference, 2003.
To me, that statement helped me make my choice. President Hinckley did not leave any room for ambiguity. Through my studies, I no longer believed that Joseph Smith worked under divine inspiration. So, if I did not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham, then in my mind, the church could not possibly be true.
With that said, after much consideration, we have decided to have our names removed from the records of the church and have sent the appropriate resignation letter this week. Continued association with an organization that we no longer believe to be true and that does not act in the best interest of its members is something that we can not, in good conscience, do.
I want you to know that our opinion regarding the church does not in any way change our feelings for you. We believe the church can be a positive place to raise a family and that its members try very hard to live their lives according to the teachings of the Savior. We have many friends in the church and know them to be good people. We love and respect each and every one of you and hope that this decision does not affect our relationship. The reasons listed in this letter are but a small portion of what we have found to be in contradiction to our core beliefs. Should anyone have questions regarding anything written here or our reasons for leaving, I am open to talking with you in a spirit of love and understanding.
We are at peace with our decision and are exploring our faith outside of Mormonism. As we search for another church, we are continually blessed to find people who have opened their hearts to us without exception. Amy’s relationship with God is stronger then ever and Megan has developed a greater desire to learn about Jesus and follow his example. I am trying to redefine God’s role in my life and find myself going between being Agnostic and Christian. I have opened a new world of possibilities and I know it will take time to find my path. I can honestly say that we have never been happier as a family and we feel closer then ever.
It is my hope that you will all have peace and happiness in your life. I love you all and can not wait to see you during the Easter holiday.
Love, Doug

It is my hope that they know that this letter was sent out of love and a desire to be upfront and open with them about my belief in the religion of my childhood.

Why did I not see this before?

For so many years, I plodded along in the Mormon Church because it was where I was "supposed" to be. I finally got tired of that and two years ago, I chose to go inactive to give myself a need break from the culture of the church, which I hate. During that time, I began to read about the history of the church and found some things that opened my eyes to a completely different side of the church then I had ever seen before. My whole life, I believed in the basic teachings of the church but never had a great "with every fiber of my being" testimony. I always though something was not right about the Golden Plates and some of the visions Joseph Smith had. It seems that my doubts were valid. I have found so many things that go against what I have always been taught. The purpose of this blog is to give me a forum in which I can express my views of the church and its doctrine. This is not an anti-Mormon blog. I remain respectful of the church and those in it and I think they do tremendous good throughout the world. It is however a place for me to point out valid points of conflict I have found through my studies. I believe in looking at both sides of an argument and letting people come to their own conclusions. I hope you find what I write insightful and informative. Please feel free to comment and share with me your thoughts.