One of my goals is to do anything I can to help those going through the pain of a truth awakening. Therefore, here are some of the frequently asked questions I receive through the contact form, and some of the answers I have given. I hope this will be helpful to anyone with similar questions.
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- “I have just discovered that the church isn’t the one true church and I am heartbroken. Where do I go from here?”
- “My family and friends are rejecting me and condemning me because I’ve told them that I no longer believe in Mormonism. They are telling me that my eternal soul is in jeopardy. This really hurts. What should I do?”
- “I have been taught my whole life that I need baptism and covenants to enter into heaven. What do I need to do now in order to get into heaven?”
- “We want to teach our children good values and principles, but I’m worried about them becoming indoctrinated with Mormonism. Won’t this do them more harm than good?”
- “I need support. I feel alone and I’m afraid of telling anyone about my new beliefs.”
- “People always say that the church makes us better people. Can’t I still be just as great of a person outside the church?”
- “What if, in some weird way, the church is still true even though there is all the evidence showing the Book of Mormon is fictitious, Book of Abraham is fictitious, First Vision wasn’t a real event, Joseph Smith hiding and lying about his polygamy/polyandry, the Earth seems much older than 6,000 years, Garden of Eden was in Africa not Missouri, etc.?”
- “Do the apostles and prophets know that the church isn’t true? If so, why do they keep acting like it is?”
- “People are telling me that the prophets aren’t perfect because they’re human, so this explains their many mistakes. Would God allow the prophets to lead us astray?”
- “If the church isn’t true, then why have I felt the Spirit?”
- “Listening to the brethren confuses me because they mix truths with lies and I have a hard time filtering it all. How do I keep the good I learned from Mormonism without retaining the lies?”
- “How can I be sure that the information I am researching is valid and true?”
First of all, I’m very sorry to hear that you have gone through this “truth ache.” I know from personal experience how painful it can be. I am also simultaneously happy for you because of how vital knowing the truth is to our growth during the human experience. Knowing what to do at this point has been a subject of interest for many people going through similar experiences. You can read about “what to do now” in more detail here.
You will get through this difficult time, and things will get better. At first, it might seem like the whole universe is ending, because Mormonism was presented as the whole purpose of the universe to you. Over time, everything will become much clearer and you will be able to look back and recognize it for what it was. For now, remember to hold on to the principle of love as a guiding value in your life.
“My family and friends are rejecting me and condemning me because I’ve told them that I no longer believe in Mormonism. They are telling me that my eternal soul is in jeopardy. This really hurts. What should I do?”
I’m truly sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, this is very common. It takes a lot of courage and humility for someone to even begin to consider that the church might not be the “one true church.” (See the “Four Essentials for Accepting Truth.”) You have demonstrated a lot of courage, integrity, and humility in admitting that you were wrong. However, not everyone has the strength to do this, and we must learn to accept them as they are. As hard as it may be, patience and kindness toward them are needed. Show them that you still love them—even if they aren’t reciprocating this love back to you. If necessary, make your boundaries clear and tell them that you will respect their right to believe as they wish and ask that they won’t be calling you a lost soul or judging you for your new beliefs. Over time, you will find that your true friends will stick with you.
Relationships are more important than anyone’s adherence to Mormon orthodoxy. Although you may go through the pain of losing some relationships due to your awakening, you will gain a far greater gift: the gift of knowing who your true friends are. A true friend will respond in a healthy and loving way by saying, in effect, “This doesn’t change our relationship, and we will still always be friends.” The feelings of appreciation and gratitude for those who stick with you even after a faith transition are very fulfilling and rewarding and will enrich those relationships. I have found that I love and appreciate those who remain close to me after my truth awakening a hundred times more.
It can be very hard to change from always being told what you need to do to deciding for yourself. I wondered many of these same questions. However, if you will apply the same amount of scrutiny to all religions that you applied to Mormonism, you will find that all religions are man-made. Doing what someone else has said you need to do in order to get into heaven is probably a very poor way of developing character. Rather than doing something good because of a man-made system of rewards and punishments, why not do good just because it’s good? Doing good just because it’s good is a great way to live and makes the world a better place. 🙂
I have had similar concerns. I believe it is morally wrong to indoctrinate innocent children with fiction being taught as fact, as this leads to heartache and disappointment in the end. Instead, we should express to our children what we personally believe but always add that they can decide for themselves what they think and we will still love them. We should teach them as they are older how to research and learn truth that is based on evidence and not myth. We should teach our children to think critically and to never accept anything as truth without objectively researching all sides of the issue. Our emphasis for the children should always be based on love—loving everyone.
It has been wisely said that “no one is born Catholic, they are only born to Catholic parents.” The same could be said of Mormonism. That is why we want to be very careful not to indoctrinate our children. Nelson Mandela has said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Unfortunately the Book of Mormon teaches that dark skin is a result of sin, and the church teaches that gay people are sinners. These types of false teachings lead to hatred and much heartache in many lives. We should ensure that we don’t teach our children any of these falsities that lead to hate and take away from the love that is so needed in the world.
Getting support is a very healthy thing to do. There are many, many people going through the same thing you are at the moment. I receive many emails each day from such people. You definitely aren’t alone.
Some of my best friends now are those who have gone through truth awakenings – there’s a certain connection there with people who believed in Mormonism simply because they wanted to be good and dedicate their lives to the truth – and they left Mormonism for the very same reasons.
You don’t have to tell anyone about your new beliefs until you feel ready. It’s okay to take your time. There are many who go for years as closeted unbelievers. (See the New Order Mormons, for example.)
Another popular online forum is the exmormon Reddit where there are thousands of people who have gone through the pain of truth awakenings and are very supportive and helpful to one another.
I’m both sorry and also happy to know about your truth awakening because I know how hard it can be, but I also know it can and will get much better. In the end, it’s always better to live the truth.
You can still be an excellent person or perhaps even better now outside the church because you will be free from harmful LDS doctrines that do not promote love (blacks, gays, perfectionism, checklists, obedience, etc), and you will be doing good because you chose to, not because of a system of promised rewards and punishments.
When you have a moment, make a list of all the good that came from the church in your life. Then notice that all these same benefits can be found from other more honest sources. All that is good about the church is not unique; and unfortunately, all that is unique about the church is not good.
People choose to be good. It is better to choose good simply because it is good than because of a system of punishments and rewards.
There are many people in the church who do not choose goodness in their hearts, and there are many people outside the church who do choose goodness in their hearts. It is a choice that everyone makes.
It is much better to credit one’s goodness deservedly to their good heart than to a man-made organization. Almost all those who are good people within the church would still have been wonderful people if Mormonism had never existed. You are still an excellent person with a great life ahead of you!
“What if, in some weird way, the church is still true even though there is all the evidence showing the Book of Mormon is fictitious, Book of Abraham is fictitious, First Vision wasn’t a real event, Joseph Smith hiding and lying about his polygamy/polyandry, the Earth seems much older than 6,000 years, Garden of Eden was in Africa not Missouri, etc.?”
A loving God who wants you to believe would not make everything so blatantly unbelievable and then hold you accountable for not believing. This would be a “trickster” God, who destroys all the evidence that the church is true and then plants evidence to the contrary to make it look like it’s not true. This does not seem like the kind and solicitous “Heavenly Father” taught in Mormonism. Once a person accepts that the church is not true, it becomes more and more obvious and clear as time passes. Over time, you will be able to understand this so clearly that you might even wonder how you ever believed in something that is so obviously untrue in the first place. Unfortunately, Mormonism controls information, behavior, and emotions in such a way that it is often very difficult for orthodox members to see reality until they take a step back and observe it objectively (see the BITE model for example).
For examples of how people can become so indoctrinated that even obvious fiction can seem very real, see this video:
This is a very fascinating question that many have asked. If you were living in a false reality where you had millions of people adoring and obeying your every word, box tickets to every Utah Jazz game, gifts and cards and letters from fans around the world, financial prosperity guaranteed for the rest of your life, etc, would you admit to everyone that you were in the wrong, knowing you would lose everything and make millions of people disappointed or angry—or would you find a way to justify it all?
The brethren certainly all know that they aren’t speaking directly with God or Christ, and they probably all have doubts to one degree or another. They might have been disappointed anytime they entered the Holy of Holies but never saw Christ with their physical eyes. However, they may rationalize this by saying that Christ only speaks to them by “the promptings of the Spirit.” There are probably some who believe that God is somehow still speaking to them through “the Spirit” (the thoughts and impressions of their own hearts and minds), and some who know that the church isn’t true but “act as though it is true” because they have so much to lose if they don’t. It’s also possible that the Brethren sign legal documents when they are called to the Twelve that keep them under secrecy. Once any of them discovers that the church isn’t true, it’s already too late. At this point, they are under tremendous pressure to continue to “act as though it were true.” They are also greatly compensated for their labors and are greatly admired by millions of believing members, so it is a position that would take a phenomenal amount of courage and integrity for them to lose. This is called confirmation bias. The human mind has a hard time accepting realities that threaten its base desires and therefore desperately searches for anything to confirm or justify what it wants to believe—even if it is not true.
When a local stake president recently told an apostle that people were leaving his stake, the apostle responded, “Where are they going? If they can find anything better than this church, let me know and I’ll go with them.” If the apostle had a real witness of the resurrected Lord in the flesh, he probably would not have said that. This just shows how the brethren think. Even though the church isn’t true, they justify it by saying, “Look at how great this church is. There is nothing better than this church. The people need it.” This of course isn’t morally right at all, but it probably helps them justify why they “act as if it were true.”
The brethren are not historians, nor are they theologians (except in the most amateur sense of the word). They are simply successful Mormons who rose the career ladder and ended up essentially “hired” to lead a multi-billion dollar corporation. This is their duty and obligation. By the time any of them figure out that the church isn’t the one true church and that God isn’t speaking directly with them, they are likely so personally invested that they “act as if it were true.” “What would you say if the church were true? This is what you should say.” Until they get to the point where they realize it’s not true, they probably think every thought, impression, and hunch they get is from God, and they are afraid to admit that their revelation is so indirect (much like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”). They are people who have dedicated their whole lives to “the church,” and admitting it isn’t true is too great of a cost, so they ride it out until the end of their lives.
If Christ were to visit the church today, he would probably be very disappointed. He would probably say something like, “I never wanted a church like this. I have never called or visited any of these men. My whole objective was to get people to stop doing pharisaical things like this.”
“People are telling me that the prophets aren’t perfect because they’re human, so this explains their many mistakes. Would God allow the prophets to lead us astray?”
When people state that the prophets are imperfect humans, they are correct. The next question they should ask is this: “Are the prophets making mistakes because they are human but they are still prophets? Or are they making mistakes because they are imperfect humans who aren’t really prophets at all?” The evidence points to the latter. That the prophets have made human mistakes is very clear. But why they have made these mistakes is pretty clear once all the facts are known – especially the foundational problems such as Book of Mormon historicity, First Vision, Book of Abraham, etc. The prophets make all these major mistakes because they aren’t really prophets in the first place, and thus they are acting on their own personal thoughts and convictions. This explains all the failed prophecies (e.g. blacks and the priesthood, Second Coming in 1891, etc.) being a mistake. Because the prophets aren’t getting a very clear connection to heaven, you can safely deduce that you are equally capable of receiving your own revelation that will be similar in accuracy to theirs. 🙂
If prophets are making mistakes, then this is understandable. But if prophets are saying things that are completely untrue and saying that “God has declared” or “Christ has revealed” these things, or speaking untruths with a tone of divine authority and finality (rather than “these are my thoughts but I could be wrong”), then by definition these are false prophets who are leading people astray.
As Mormons, we were taught our whole lives that the Spirit testifies of that which is true. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and this can be proven. As it turns out, the feeling of the Spirit is a natural human phenomenon that occurs across the board in the context of all religions, cultures, areas, and time periods. Many religions exploit this natural feeling in order to use it to confirm that their religion is “the one true church.” You can read about this in detail here, including taking a “quiz” that will show how many different religions use the witness of the Spirit.
“Listening to the brethren confuses me because they mix truths with lies and I have a hard time filtering it all. How do I keep the good I learned from Mormonism without retaining the lies?”
Unfortunately, as Mormons we were taught certain principles and virtues that are noble and desirable, while at the same time being taught error and falsity that became so thoroughly mixed with the truth that it became difficult to discern what was truth and what was error. For example, we might hear a conference talk which extols love and service (truth), but then advocates temple rituals or missionary proselyting as the way to serve mankind (error), when in reality these activities deflect real service from those who truly need it. We may hear an inspiring address regarding the benefits of prayer and meditation (truth), but then the speaker may use this to advocate the Book of Mormon (error). Or we may hear a conference talk which extols the greatness of women (truth), but then emphasizes that women are under covenant of obedience to patriarchal authority (error). Thus, we may find it confusing to separate what is good and right from that which is false and untrue. May I therefore recommend that we take a new and thoughtful look at our values and principles? We may wish to make a list of that which we personally believe in, keeping that which is good and honorable, and “sifting out” the errors that were introduced through Mormonism. An example of one such list can be found here.
“How can I be sure that the information I am researching is valid and true?”
This is very important to the integrity of your personal study and research. You can validate your information using official sources listed in this guide.