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If you want a good metaphor for me leaving the church, I didn’t swan dive into Babylon. I was dragged out kicking and screaming by my own conscience.

I left the church because of countless historical records, anachronisms in scripture, what I realized were gross practices by so-called prophets, and so on and so forth. I had every reason to stay—I had just been married in the temple to the love of my life, I lived in Mormon-dominated Utah, and I was a popular LDS blogger who had “inspired many” with what I now think were pretty weak articles. Leaving the church was my worst nightmare, and the “worst-case scenario” I could never even entertain as a possibility.

But I did it. I exerted more courage than I ever have before and I left, resigning a couple of months later.

Many Mormons, unaware of the grief ex-Mormons have gone through (and often continue to go through, thanks to personal pain, the judgement of friends and family, and sudden troubles in their Utah workplaces), feel that they are equipped to make statements like, “If you’ve left the church, why can’t you leave it alone?” Sometimes these statements are given ridiculous appendages like, “You obviously know it’s true deep down”, or “You’re just seeking confirmation bias to justify your new lifestyle.”

These statements lack compassion at their core, but they also display raging misunderstanding about exMormons. I want to make it perfectly clear why I can’t “just leave it alone”. Hint: it’s not because I secretly think minor-marrying-Joe was actually God’s servant carrying out His will and I’m so desperate to ignore that “knowledge”.

Women have suffered throughout church history thanks to polygamy and sexism.

It is the duty of a woman to be obedient to her husband, and unless she is, I would not give a damn for all her queenly right and authority; nor for her either…” – Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:82

B4jFasICYAEXH4BForced into marriages they didn’t want, told to keep quiet, and viewed as generally inferior to their key-carrying male counterparts. (Regardless of current church culture, which is a lot kinder to women.)

I think we owe it to these now-deceased women to put a stop to the idea that polygamy was somehow a noble practice, rather than pure indulgence on the part of male leaders. I strongly recommend checking out Lindsey Hansen Park’s work for more information on how polygamy affected (and continues to affect) women. Women in the FLDS church continue to suffer—being forced to marry young, having their children ripped away from them, etc. because of the polygamy practices established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beginning with Joseph Smith, and skyrocketing with Brigham Young. (Continuing until the law made it impossible to do.) Let’s not pretend Mormonism isn’t to blame when polygamy was taught by many church leaders as essential for exaltation. Those who denied it were labeled sinful and damned.

It is the duty of the first wife to regard her husband not with a selfish devotion… she must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy… we believe in the good old custom by which marriages should be arranged by the parents of the young people.” – Zina Huntington, wife of Prophet Brigham Young, New York World, November 17, 1869, as cited in The Lion of the Lord, pp. 229-230

It’s not ok that women were forced to endure miserable marriages. There are so many quotes from these poor women, stating that to do God’s will when it came to polygamy, one needed to regard marriage as a loveless affair, void of much joy.

Even in 2016, LDS women suffer because of a church that believes only men should be leaders, only men should go out and pursue whatever they’re passionate about, and that women should have as many children as possible. It’s no surprise that Utah leads the nation in antidepressant use. Even women who don’t necessarily feel unfulfilled while in Mormonism have remarked how much happier and more fulfilled they feel after leaving.

People, male and female, have suffered and continue to suffer because of Mormonism.

People lost money in the Kirtland banking fiasco thanks to Joseph’s false prophecies. (For more on that, click here.)

Zina Jacobs was forced to leave her husband and father of her unborn child to marry Joseph Smith. (And subsequently Brigham.)

Babies (and adults) died in handcart companies because they were told it was God’s will for them to leave for the journey at a dangerous time.

Church members in poorer countries can’t afford to buy medicine though they pay tithing, while North American wards spend $300 in tithing funds on a ward pizza party no problem.

Almost every LGBT youth in the church is depressed, many suicidal. Women are told they are sinful for wanting careers or for using birth control. (If you don’t believe me about the birth control, read the Eternal Marriage Student Manual.)

Black people were told they weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood or go to the temple until years after the civil rights movement took effect, a movement which the church opposed.

120 innocent people were killed by Mormons in 1857. The church refuses to apologize or even acknowledge that Brigham Young’s teachings or the temple death oath could be to blame.

People are shunned by their families and friends for leaving the church.

Missionaries endure psychological abuse and suffering, thinking it’s in the name of good. My friend’s weekly email last week said that she knew if people weren’t joining the church in her area, it was her fault—because of her disobedience. Missionaries literally believe that if they leave their apartment 5 minutes late, God won’t bless them with the opportunity to teach someone about the church He wants them to be teaching about.

Non-members suffer when the Church tries to legislate its doctrinal opinions on society with political pressure.

Women like Lindsey Stirling are shamed by their own tribe because of something as stupid as what clothes they choose to wear.

However nice an abusive spouse is when he’s not being abusive, you still shouldn’t be married to an abusive spouse. And on that note, you’d never tell a mother who’d escaped her abusive husband to just “let it go” when it came to the fact that her kids were still in that violent home.

Truth matters.

Some people really would rather stay in The Matrix and feel happy. But for me, even my own happiness isn’t worth the damage to others’ happiness (see #2). I cannot perpetuate something that is false and wrong, even if there are good things to the church, like the importance of family. (A notion which seems to fade fast when someone leaves…)

Mormons are encouraged to share their beliefs. ExMormons are shamed into silence, leaving many feeling desperately alone to grieve.

I am simply not ok with this. Since announcing that I was leaving the church, I’ve had so many people come to me and tell me they’d been having similar feelings, but felt totally alone and like they couldn’t tell anyone. These people are suffering in silence while their fellow Mormons loudly proclaim how their marriages are better because they are the only ones guaranteed for eternity, and how they are happier because they keep the commandments, and so on and so forth. Mormons celebrate sharing their views very loudly and publicly, and condemn anyone else who shares different ones.

Starving children in Africa continue to starve while you gush on Facebook about how God helped you find your keys. Every hour you spend in the temple is time you could spend actually helping the world. I could go on, but I won’t.

It’s not a sin to leave the church, and it usually takes great moral courage.

Mormons need to stop shaming people for leaving. Following your conscience and moral compass when everyone around you condemns you for it is one of the most difficult things in the world.

Mormons—before you judge your ex-Mormon friends or family members for leaving the church, or refusing to leave it alone, consider how limited your understanding of their reasons might just be, and how you have the ability to look into every one of their claims to decide for yourself, in an educated way, whether they are true or false.

You may label ex-Mormons sinful or immoral, “anti” or “bitter”, but it could be their disgust for immorality that led them out of the church, and that keeps them caring enough to try and educate others about what they’ve learned. I for one will never force someone to listen to me talk about the church. But I won’t pretend all is well in Zion. There are too many people, past and present, who deserve more than that.



Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.
  • kimmydawn

    This site (and especially this piece) is fantastic. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    The part I have a hard time wrapping my head around is that all these arguments could easily be pegged on any world religion (e.g. Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, etc.). If you are really writing in order to try and help people end their suffering by exiting hurtful organizations with sordid pasts, you could reach 17% of the worlds population by targeting Catholics, or more by targeting Muslims. Instead, you target the .08% of the worlds population that are active Mormons. I think I’d be more persuaded that you had no ulterior motives but the well-being of man and womankind if you set up a similar website for each religion, and tried to expose them all. You write as though Mormons are the only ones who won’t ordain women (when Pope Francis said recently “that door is closed”) or that there are not parts of the religious world where polygamy is STILL practiced (the Qu’ran says a man may acceptably marry four women). No, I can’t accept you created this simply to “help” Mormons. I’m fine if this is a cathartic exercise for you, and think you should write whatever helps you out, but I think it would be good to label it as such.

    • Mosiah Degrasse-Tyson

      It makes perfect sense for them to speak about the things they have experience with. How effective do you thing they would be writing about Islam, a foreign religion that they know nothing about? While we’re at it lets have biologists publish articles about astrophysics and lawyers perform heart transplants. It makes much more sense for them to focus on Mormonism because they grew up in, understand, and have been directly affected by it.

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        More like Theists writing about… Theism. Or Christians, writing about… Christianity.

        Or, if you insist on keeping your bright lines…. Why should we have non-mormons (i.e. Zelph) write about mormons? That’s like having someone who dropped out of high school give you the deets on high school! 😉

        And if they know nothing about Islam or Catholicism or Judaism, shame on them. To claim that you researched and sought God for years, and yet never got around to looking at the different way that billions of people get to Him is shoddy work. I’m an active Mormon and think it has enhanced my spirituality to study the Qu’ran and the Christian and Jewish apocrypha.

        • Dana

          That’s an interesting argument; people who leave the church are not the same as high school drop outs, though, and high school drop outs still went to high school and can therefore share their insights. It would be more appropriate to compare them to people that grow up in a small town or a child expected to take over a family business, and decided they wanted something different from their lives.

          Exmormons were still Mormons, and can still share their experiences with knowledge and validity.

        • Austin Larsen

          How can you honestly expect them to have the time and resources to write about every world religion, thats just ridiculous. The author of this post was infact mormon for most of her life, until very recently. She ran a very popular faithful lds blog, to say she isn’t qualified on the topic is ridiculous.

    • Goto

      15000000/7000000000 is actually .002% of the population–having said that–she was mormon and that is where her family is still–not any other religion.

    • Rebekah Harwell

      You’re right… I’m sure she has some shady “ulterior motive” for writing about why she left the Church that saturated her whole existence right up until she recently left it. It’s so bizarre and questionable that she would write about the religion she was raised in and that all her family and friends are in and not every religion on earth….. Like….. We need to get to the bottom of this, guys. There’s something fishy going on for sure….. Not.

  • Retief

    Is Mormonism really responsible for 19th century sexism?

    • Peggotty

      No one said it was. The issue is Mormon’s excuse polygamy when they don’t excuse other 19th century sexism. It would be difficult to find a Mormon who would say that denying women the vote, or the right to own property, or the right to beat your wife as long as you don’t use a rod wider than your thumb is OK, or ever was OK. But they will dismiss polygamy with a”there were too many women who needed to be cared for” (not true) or “it was to increase birth rates” (also not true) or “we won’t know in this life why God wanted it”

  • Goto

    Excellent!!

  • DrVinneyboombahtz

    I was hoping to find some new information for talking points with LDS friends, but alas, these are the same tired arguments that have been raised against the LDS Church for years. Most are true, some are false, but none will be new points that LDS members haven’t already heard and dealt with.

    Everyone, do yourself a favor and find a blog. Very disappointed with the info in this one.

    • Rebekah Harwell

      Some are false? Such as?

      • Stuart Senften

        DrVinneyboombahtz Bitch can’t even use his real name here, he doesn’t know what the hell he or she is talking about..All the stuff that was mentioned in this piece is true about this Batshit Crazy Cult!!

  • Rozan Gautier

    Many years ago when my “faith crisis” began, one of the things I felt guilty about was that my ancestors had given up so much to be Mormons. All four of my grandparents were of Mormon pioneer stock. There are a lot of family stories relating the sacrifices they made for the Church. How could I have the audacity to leave that for which they had sacrificed so much?
    What I did not contemplate at the time was that three of my four grandparents came from polygamous families. I loved the lines of the article that stated that we owe it to our deceased grandmothers to stop the idea that polygamy was a ” noble” practice.
    Puts a whole different spin on the topic!

    • Anna Bobanna

      Do you have children in the church? I have a Temple-attending daughter and I’m struggling with leaving the church because of her. We go to church together and to activities – and she believes it to her core. Not sure how to tackle this. Any suggestions for me?

      • Jose Galdamez

        The Gospel Topics essays are great for starting a discussion. They worked great for me and my marriage. http://mormonessays.com

  • Kevin S Van Horn

    “However nice an abusive spouse is when he’s not being abusive”

    He? As if women can’t be abusive spouses too, both physically and emotionally? More than 830,000 men are victims of domestic violence every year.

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