Last week I published the testimony of the person who authors http://becominglds.blogspot.com/. This LDS blogger has a few other Mormon related blogs, one of which is devoted to the sharing of various people's conversion stories. They ask for more stories so I submitted mine...
Naturally, it never saw the light of day and probably got deleted within moments. But what can you expect from a person who has been reared in a bubble? I don't hold it against them. So, since it will never be published there, it will be published here!
I have told this story before, but it can't hurt to tell it again.
My Conversion - From Mormonism to Atheism
I was born into an active LDS family. I was baptized at the age of 8 and served a mission at the age of 19, as is expected. I never doubted or questioned the church. I never smoked or drank. I tried to convert my friends. I was a true blue Mormon (TBM).
I was married in the temple as all LDS youth are expected to. I knew the scriptures inside and out and had a very deep understanding of LDS doctrine. I was active all my life, accepting any callings that were extended to me. I prayed regularly and read the scriptures. I was the perfect Mormon.
On my mission, I experienced some things that strongly lead me to believe that the missionary program of the church was not inspired. I won't talk much about it except to say that the life of an LDS missionary is structured from the moment they get up until they go to bed. For two years, your life is planned for you and you have absolutely no privacy. This seemed very strange to me as I was always taught that everyone had free will. Also very strange to me was how they expected unquestioning obedience to the mission rules. I had always been taught to follow the spirit, but that was amazingly absent in mission life.
I served my two years and returned home. Within a year I was married as all good returned missionaries should be. We were active and went to church together for many years.
A strange series of events happened almost all at the same time. To call it fate might be pushing it, but who knows?
Event #1: My wife and I were not getting along very well. We had terrible fights and were very unhappy. But every Sunday we would put on our happy faces and go to church pretending that life as a Mormon was wonderful. It wasn't wonderful and I felt like a scumbag for always pretending.
Event #2: I would sit in Elder Quorum week after week and all of us would get grilled over how low our home teaching numbers were. I remember leaving church time and again feeling depressed because of all the guilt and shame they heaped upon us.
Event #3: I had the calling from hell! I was an assistant to the bishop, so everything that needed done, I did it. This calling required that I attend meetings before church, and my duties often required me to stay after church as well. There were Sundays where I was literally at the church before sunrise and wasn't home until after sunset.
Event #4: I remember sitting in Sunday school one day and we were discussing Jesus walking on water. I had never had a doubt in my life, but suddenly I had a very strong feeling that the story I was hearing was just a myth.
Event #5: I was just feeling burnt out! All of my life I had been living the Mormon routine: tithing, home teaching, church meetings, callings, more meetings, etc. There is tremendous pressure to do it all and huge amounts of guilt and shame if you don't. I just needed a break!
Event #6: This event was the most devastating on me. The LDS people are taught that a prophet can see the future and warn people of danger. When the tsunami struck in 2005, killing hundreds of thousands of people, I wondered why Gordon B. Hinckley had not warned the people. I am sure that some of the tsunami victims were LDS and their prophet failed them. This caused me to have a great deal of doubt in Pres. Hinckley.
These 6 events left me feeling frustrated, burnt out, and exhausted! To say Mormon life is demanding is an understatement. I quit church and my callings cold turkey. I originally planned to only be off for a month or two. At the time, I was still a believer, but was just feeling very overwhelmed.
After I had been missing from church for a few weeks, the "concerned" members started stopping in with messages to "give god a chance". My Elders Quorum president even showed up one day with, of all things, a home-teaching pamphlet. I know that they meant well.
I was driving down the freeway one day and I saw a car next to me with a bumper sticker. It was sharing an ex-Mormon website. I wish I could remember what website it was. So I figured that since I was already disgruntled with the church, I might as well have a look to see what those evil and angry anti-Mormons have to say.
I was floored! The more I read, the more I wanted to know. I couldn't find enough. As I read, I slowly came to realize that they were not lies made up by the devil, but evidence being shared by concerned people for those who are trapped in a mind-numbing cult. I sat at my computer screen for several months reading anything I could find.
I was having serious doubts at this point but was still not entirely convinced the church was not true until I read the Book of Abraham controversy. Here was undeniable proof that Joseph Smith was pulling "scripture" out of dark places.
At that moment, my Mormon world shattered. I felt a range of emotions from betrayal to anger, confusion to joy, and excitement to fear. Everything I had ever known to be true was gone, and I was left standing in a heap of rubble that resembled my past life. Naturally, I tried to share my new found knowledge with my wife but that proved to be futile.
For nearly two years I struggled with my lost identity. What do I believe now? The answer came slowly after much more reading and soul searching. I studied the history of religion and the characteristics of a myth and I realized at some point, that Jesus was not real. I came to the conclusion, after thinking the matter through very carefully, that I could not believe in god. The Bible was full of nonsense and many horrible things have been done in the name of god. I realized that religion is just a way to frighten people into submission using fear.
I had a difficult time still. By rejecting god completely, one will go to hell if their conclusion is wrong. The fear of damnation kept me hanging on to faith by a thread. I asked a former LDS member that I knew how to get over the fear of damnation. I was told that when you realize the truth, the fear automatically vanishes. That didn't help right then and there; however, when I finally came to terms with the fact that I did not believe in god, the fear of damnation melted away. Now there is absolutely no fear whatsoever of this angry, jealous, ruthless god.
Since I have abandoned the concept of god, I have never been happier. I have had some pretty harsh "trials" so to speak, but I would rather be godless and homeless than rich and Mormon. Any day! I have never looked back and I now author an ex-Mormon blog where I try to reach out to others who might feel as trapped by religion as I did. It has been very rewarding.
Letting go of god was the most wonderful event I could ever hope to experience. For me, it was more wonderful than the first time I had sex (which actually was very disappointing in my opinion). Now I don't have to wonder if everything I do will be approved by god. I never have to worry if I will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I can live life and enjoy it without being constantly afraid of offending god. And when I go to the gym, I don't have to be embarrassed being seen in my goofy Mormon prescription underwear.
I let go of god and have never looked back. I am okay with the idea that life has no purpose and that when I die, I'm dead. I have accepted reality and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.
So here is my testimony. I don't know what is true... I just know what isn't. When you are honest with yourself, the only possible conclusion is that god does not exist. I know the Book of Mormon isn't true. I know that Joseph Smith was a con man and a pervert. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a lying fraud and that the LDS church is a cult. There is no father in heaven who loves me. There is no side-kick Jesus. It's all a huge lie.
I say this in the name of truth and honesty, amen.