Dear Elder Ballard,
This last Sunday you spoke at a regional conference for the Utah South Area.
My family is very faithful and active in the LDS Church. I know that they attended the conference. For my entire life up until recently, I have been an active member of the Church. Scripture study, leadership callings, mission, home teaching, at Church every Sunday, the whole package. I left because the Church is not what I was taught it was. I did not read anti-Mormon material. I did not subscribe to the ideas of false prophets. I simply took the ethics that the church had taught me, applied it to Church history and modern Church practice, and realized that it was not what it claimed to be. If you want to call it “the elect being deceived”, that’s your prerogative. Everyone else would call it following your conscience and standing up for morality.
The only thing that has made leaving the Church difficult is my family. They are absolutely wonderful. Charity and Christ-like living are an obvious pattern to their lives from any outside observer. My leaving has caused major heartbreak for them. According to Church doctrine I have ruined the idea of our eternal family all together in the Celestial Kingdom. I have sinned against greater light and knowledge. I am continuing to “kick against the pricks” by helping struggling friends find primary sources and cut through the spin of the Church’s essays and poor apologetics.
Which has made it all the more upsetting, Elder Ballard, that after emphasizing the importance of the Sabbath and scriptures study, you said the following this last Sunday: “When someone stops doing these simple but essential things, they cut themselves from the ‘well of living water’ and allow Satan to muddle their thinking.”
I did all the essential things up until the very day I left. I didn’t go to any Satanic internet site. I read the Church’s essays, Journal of Discourses, FAIR Mormon, etc. I had absolutely no interest in leaving the Church. None. As a dear friend of mine once said “I didn’t swan dive into Babylon. I was dragged out kicking and screaming by my own conscience.”
And none of this would bother me one bit except for the fact that my family are being told this by someone who claims to be a prophet, seer, and revelator. The idea is being reinforced in their minds that I am the one that did something wrong. I stopped doing what I should.
Excuse me? Again, can we review the times the Church has absolutely gotten it wrong? Knowingly misled? By the Church’s own definition of honesty, Church leadership has been dishonest. If the Church has actively been telling the truth, why are so many good, faithful, Christlike people leaving over Church history? Do you really believe that all of us were lazy? Didn’t study hard enough?
Elder Ballard, stop saying it is our fault. That is no better than Elder Oaks saying the Church “doesn’t seek apologies and we don’t give them.” Instead of repairing the damage done to our families, you and other members of the Quorum insist that you have been completely, 100% without fault. You transfer blame onto the members of the Church who you are refusing to teach, refusing to be transparent with, and you are failing to nourish.
Further frustrating is your story of a man who came to you with doubts. You told him that you had answers to his questions, but before you told him these answers you wanted the man to read the Book of Mormon. Weeks later this man came back to you, saying his questions did not matter any more and that he no longer needed answers.
Elder Ballard, if you have the answers, why are you not providing them? Why are you willing to provide them to this man but not me? Is his soul somehow worth more than mine? Your calling as an apostle is to teach the doctrine and bring clarity to challenging times. Wasn’t that the message we taught as missionaries about the restoration? Isn’t that why we sang “We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet?”
I desperately read the Book of Mormon. I spent night after night sobbing into my pillow, crying out and asking God “Where is my Christ? Where is the gospel I loved?” I studied and highlighted, clinching onto any possible explanation that could make the gospel make sense both in my heart and in my mind. I added my own name to the prayer roll at the temple, asking for true messengers to come with a message from the Father.
Regardless of the source of it, your message is clear Elder Ballard. You have the answers, you just don’t think it is important to share them. If you actually do have answers (and I doubt you do) and are not providing them to the people who need them most, then the eternal damnation of these formerly faithful Saints is on your hands. If you honestly had the ability to bring divine counsel and apostolic clarity to this mess and did not, you have failed in your calling and failed in saving souls you could have saved.
I did not ruin my eternal family. You did.
Tens of Thousands of Heartbroken Saints