I grew up in southeastern Idaho in Idaho Falls, which is about 50% LDS. I faithfully followed the normal LDS path through childhood, adolescence and adulthood: baptized at 8, graduated from seminary, served a 2 year mission (for me, to Germany), graduated from BYU, and married in the temple. I served as a bishopric counselor twice, had lots of other callings, etc. I had a testimony that the LDS church was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Despite all that, I have a very scientific way of looking at things. There were some things in the Book of Mormon that would make me wonder if it really was historically accurate. A few years ago I was looking at the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham and I wondered “Did Joseph Smith translate those correctly?” At the time I found information from FairMormon which seemed reasonable to me, so I forgot about it.

Fast forward to January 2015 where I felt prompted to do a web search on the Book of Abraham. In just a few minutes, I realized things were never going to be the same for me. The more I researched church history and doctrinal topics, the more I knew I could never go back to believing the way I had for 43 years of my life. Could people just quit believing in the truth claims of the church? I didn’t know anyone who had. After a couple days of researching, I told my wife I no longer believed the church was true, and she was heartbroken. We went to our bishop, who is a good friend of ours. He was shocked when I said I no longer believed the church was true. He took my temple recommend and released me on the spot from my calling as Young Men’s second counselor and Scout Master. I said I would be happy to still help with scouts during the week, but he wasn’t interested. He said I was welcome to go to Sunday School but I had to keep my mouth shut about my beliefs. In my darkest moment of losing my faith, I felt abandoned and lost. I had no one to turn to.

So where did I go when I lost belief in the LDS church? I tried going to sacrament meeting for a few months, but eventually that became too painful. I felt like going to LDS church was doing damage to me instead of uplifting me. So I quit going to LDS church and I started finding a new path. Sometimes I visit churches that focus on messages of love and inclusion, and doing good in the community. I have had some incredible spiritual experiences in these non-LDS churches. Over time, I found new friends who have been through a similar faith transition as I have. I can be totally open and real with them about my beliefs, and they are real with me. We aren’t threatened by each other’s beliefs, even if some still believe in God and others have become atheists or agnostics. We love and support each other, because we all have experienced the pain of friends and family thinking we are lost. In my new circle of friends, I have met LGBT people who feel there is no place for them in the LDS church. It turns out they’re just people like me, who want to experience love and companionship like any other person does. I can’t imagine a loving God who would deny some of his children the opportunities for that life-long love and companionship that I have been blessed with.

I believe the LDS church is a great fit for many people. For those who are happy there, they should by all means stay. But for me and many others, it gets to the point where it no longer works. The healthiest decision for my spiritual health was to walk away. But that’s just one person’s journey. I respect everyone’s journey, and I hope the LDS church will someday get to the point where they can do the same.

Steve in WA

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