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Monday, August 10, 2009

My Resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

I know this is a dead blog as I have not posted in a long time, nor do I plan on actively posting on here, so I don't know how many people will see it. However, this is an update on my status regarding my membership in the LDS church. Today, 8-10-2009 I no longer consider myself a member of the LDS church.

I sent the following letter to my current bishop:






















Although I consider myself "non-Mormon", I understand that the church is going to go through a process to remove my name from their records. I will update the progress of this process.

I wanted to outline the specific "doctrinal and historical" claims made by the church that I do not believe, but simply did not have the space as I wanted to keep it a single page letter. Here are the specific claims that I do not believe:

  • The Book of Abraham is a literal translation of an ancient document written by Abraham
  • The Book of Mormon is literally a historical record of real ancient inhabitants that really lived in the Americas and came over by boat from the old world.
  • Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, who literally saw God the father and Jesus
  • The Book of Mormon was literally translated from gold-colored metal plates that physically existed
  • The doctrines of the LDS church are eternal and the same yesterday, today and forever.

30 comments:

Marcus Brody said...

God bless you in this difficult step of faith! I affirm your action.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Brother Zelph, it's been a long time since I've visited your blog and it looks like a lot has happened since then.

Would just like to say, first of all, that even though I've taken a different path than you have, I have been where you have been and I feel your pain. I no longer believe so literally as I did before and I'm frequently very frustrated, disillusioned, even angry, about many things in the Church. It sucks. It hurts. It's not what I thought I "signed up for." Most of all, it's a huge disappointment for me, someone who once viewed the Church as "different" from all the rest, a beackon of truth and righteousness. Still, though, I've had certain undeniable personal experiences that compel me to stay in order to satisfy my own personal conscience.

Anyways, I just want to say that I respect your courage, personal integrity, and willingness to be honest with yourself and local leaders. I know you didn't take this path because it was fun or because it made your life easier.

How do you deal with family? Were you married in the temple? How is this affecting your relationship with them? Do they respect your decision?

Bishop Rick said...

I still use your blog as a resource. I hope you leave it up and even post once or twice a year.

What made you pull the trigger?

Mormon Heretic said...

Brother Zelph,

I respect your decision. I know you didn't come to this decision overnight. How did your family react?

Brother Zelph said...

A lot has happened and I just realized that my last post was from about a year ago. Honestly, I wish I had more time to dedicate to blogging, and frankly, I don't know how people do it. I barely scratched the surface of topics I was hoping to get into, but I came to the realization that it is not healthy for me to obsess over a religion that I do not consider myself a part of.

I was sealed in the temple and we are coming up on our 7 year anniversary. My wife has been very supportive through this whole ordeal, especially considering it is a major paradigm shift. No doubt that disillusionment and leaving the church is a change. There are changes in daily habits, there is a change in your worldview, there are many changes and it is a lot to ask for a spouse to deal with. The sealing cancellation is what has hit my wife the hardest, but she is more angry with the church. DW has admitted that there are issues and problems with church history and other claims made by the church, but she still attends. Some of the biggest issues she agrees with are Native American DNA, the Book of Abraham issue, and the blacks and the priesthood issue, which has always been an issue for her.

I think I have been ready to leave the church for a while, I just needed to make sure DW was o.k. with it.

MH- So far, I haven't told anyone outside of DW. I will probably wait until my name is removed from the records of the church until I tell the rest of my family, and I might tell some of my close friends, in that order.

I don't intend on removing this blog either.

I am now unaffiliated with any religion, and have every intention of keeping it that way. Although I consider myself officially "non-Mormon", I know there is a lengthy process for the church to remove my name from the records of the church. I am hoping that it will be a smooth and quick process.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment on the letter. I also do not credit the Mormon as a religion, but a philosophy and any church downing others have no right to lay that as a threat to damnation and is not Christian. We all have our own spiritual journey and Spiritual Law has it that it is not right to force another's religion on someone else.
That is all.
God bless all and who personally know Him.

Brother Zelph said...

As I peel off the layers of anonymity, if any of you that I know want to friend me on FB, send me an email.

brotherzelph@yahoo.com

Mormon Heretic said...

Brother Zelph,

I have been blogging with Andrew S, an "atheist mormon." I find him very respectful, and enjoy his point of view. He's much more philosophical than I am. I was just reading one of his latest posts, and thought you would enjoy it at http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/another-jesus-how-about-another-joseph/

I think you may find much in common with him. He also blogs at Mormon Matters (as do I.)

Brother Zelph said...

MH, hey I loved that post you referred! That was most excellent!

The Faithful Dissident said...

Zelph, having gone what you've gone through, are you able to still believe in God? If you do, do you still feel influenced by your Mormon past?

If I were to leave, I can imagine still being drawn to religion (I would still believe in God), but it would be hard to ever commit to anything again.

Just curious about your thoughts.

The Faithful Dissident said...

PS: Glad to hear that your wife respects your decision. I think it says a lot about the person she is. I can imagine that some Mormon wives would have left their husbands over it.

Brother Zelph said...

FD- My journey has taken me to an unexpected turn. I no longer believe in Jesus or believe the stories in the Bible. I even question if there is a God. I consider myself agnostic leaning atheist now.

When I became disillusioned and no longer believed in the Book of Mormon, it didn't take me very long to quickly realize that by using the same magnifying glass on the Bible, there are just as many problems with many of the stories and claims in the Bible, particularly the OT. There couldn't have been a global flood or Noah's arc, and humans have certainly been around much longer than 6,000 years. Moses was not a real person and the Exodus is not a real historical event. Human evolution is undeniable if you take an unbiased look at the mountains of evidence. There is no way for me to accept the Bible as a literal history, even if it mentions real places in the NT.

I think that is the difference. I no longer base my beliefs on personal religious and subjective experiences, because I do not believe that it is a good way to determine truth. Our own perception is very limited and subjective to the individual. I try to base my beliefs on objective reality, and personal experiences do not fit in that paradigm.

I respect you for your decision, as DW still attends even though she has experienced her own disillusionment of sorts. Half of my family are still members, and about half of my friends are still active members.

If there is a God, I don't believe that he invented any religion that is currently or has ever been on earth. I have concluded that all religions are man-made based on making up explanations based on our limited knowledge in trying to explain the unexplainable.

Like many people, I have had personal experiences that made me believe in God. There is no question that these experiences feel very real to the individual, but it is not really proof of anything as everyone has these same experiences that lead them to different conclusions. I call this subjective truth.

I hope I don't offend anyone with this, but this is where the journey has taken me.

Now, my life is all about living and experiencing it while we are here. I don't believe in an afterlife, and I am o.k. with it. Wanting to believe in something does not make it true. No matter how much I would like there to be an afterlife, it doesn't change the veracity. However, if we want to believe something, it just opens us to confirmation bias.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks for keeping us posted on your journey!

The Faithful Dissident said...

No need to worry about offending, since you're just being honest. I respect your point of view and your reasons for it.

FWIW, I don't believe in many of the Biblical stories either. Neither do I believe that the earth is only 6000 years. I can't take the scriptures literally. I think they're most likely a mish-mash of literal stories, second-hand information, misinterpretations, and personal opinions being thrown into the mix by people over the years. I can view them as useful inspiration, but I have trouble viewing them as "God's recipe for life," especially when they're so imperfect. I'm not one of those people who can open the scriptures and get an answer to a question they have. I think you can find pretty much any answer you're looking for because of the contradictions, and usually, I just end up with more questions.

That being said, I do still believe in Jesus. I believe that he lived, died, and was resurrected. I don't have any particular reason to doubt his teachings that are in the scriptures, but since I don't believe that the scriptures should be regarded as perfect or literal, I'm not convinced that what is recorded in them about Jesus is the actual truth. We could be missing a lot, or perhaps some things could have been inserted or misinterpreted.

I call myself a "practising Mormon agnostic theist" because I feel much the way that you do, that if there is a god, then we can't really know him by all of our man-made and fallible religions and doctrines. Goodness knows we have plenty of that in the LDS Church. My trust in the ability of prophets to be a consistent conduit of the Lord's voice that I can trust and rely on has pretty much been shattered. I think they can be inspired, but that's about it. I now put more value and emphasis on the God-to-individual relationship, as opposed to the God-to-prophet-to-individual relationship. The latter has not proven to be consistent or very reliable IMO, but I hold out more hope for the former, even though it's a complicated relationship for me. So that's my "agnostic" side.

My "theist" side compels me to believe that there is a god and an afterlife. Sometimes I've had major doubts about god's existence, but they never last. To me personally, the evidence I've received in my life compels me to believe, even though I don't believe that I can "know."

I suppose I look at Mormonism now more as having SOME valuable pieces of the puzzle (as opposed to ALL of them), which I don't believe we will ever complete in this life. Right now, I feel more comfortable prioritizing encouraging and helping people connect to God and to cultivate a personal relationship with him in whatever way they feel is right for them. If that's through Mormonism, then that's great. If it's through Buddhism, that's also great. If one feels connected to God and inspired by his wisdom and love, I can't see how that's worthless -- even if they choose the "wrong" religion.

TGD said...

Congratulations and welcome to the world of reality.

Brother Zelph said...

FD- Thank you for that very open and honest appraisal of your beliefs. I completely understand where you are coming from.

Andrew Callahan said...

Best wishes to you on this journey. It is a complicated and often confusing journey, but knowing that others are struggling to find their way has been helpful to me. Taking that step of submitting the resignation letter can be a very emotional one.

I hope you find happiness.

Cr@ig said...

Brother Zelph,

It says a lot about the importance and quality of your blog that so many people still visit, read and continue to post to your blog a whole year after your last blog contribution. I for one would love you to pick up where you left off…you have a real talent for getting to the heart of the matter and presenting it in an open and balanced manner. I also found the back and forth of those that contributed comments to your blog very stimulating. But I also understand the need to move on…I rarely post to my blog or other Mormon themed forums any more either.

I know from personal experience that the journey that led you to resign from the LDS church was not an easy one. I know that it didn't come lightly or without serious and deep thought to the many consequences that befall such an important decision. But I also know that your decision will give you a much more rewarding life experience because it is built on a foundation of reality and living honestly. Once we discover that our Mormon paradigm is not real…we can either choose to live a lie or take the brave step and live in the “lone and dreary world” of reality. But let me tell you…that is just another Mormon lie…the world of reality is far from being lonely or dreary…in fact it is very friendly and quite amazing.

Best of luck on your continued journey,

Cr@ig

Brother Zelph said...

Andrew and Cr@ig, thanks for your comments! I will keep you updated on the status.

Cr@ig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cr@ig said...

So what happened? What was it that eventually pushed you over the edge?

This past week I've been re-reading much of your blog. In one of your early posts (Thursday, May 10, 2007), you posted why you planned on staying. What's changed.

If this info is too personal to devulge here I totally understand...but I'm a curious guy

Cheers,
Cr@ig




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Brother Zelph said...

I did plan on staying in the church. I think that it works for some people, but discovered that it didn't work for me. I didn't feel honest with myself, and I didn't feel like I was being honest with others.

There wasn't really a single thing that "set me off". It was a combination of many things and the time felt right.

I have no social ties to the church outside of my family anymore. However, I was hoping that the church would become less dogmatic and more welcoming to diversity.

It was clear to me that the church is not changing anytime soon. I live in San Diego, CA and became very disappointed with the church's involvement in prop 8. Why do the church leaders feel the need to pass laws that prohibit gay people from marrying each other? I don't get it. This is coming from a church that taught that free agency was God's plan and Satan wanted to restrict freedom to conform to what was required.

It wasn't just that, there were a number of things, but one thing was clear. The church was not changing its attitude regarding the tiresome dogmatic approach and dogmatic reasoning.

I wish that the church stopped focusing so much on doctrine and dogma and instead emphasized the individual. I feel like the church leaders are completely out of touch and have forgotten that what it comes down to are people. The church ultimately is a social organization, and they have lost sight of that. They have focused so heavily on the doctrine that when someone figures out that the doctrine is heavily flawed, there is little reason to stay.

I think what happened to me is that I simply became less and less interested in Mormonism as time progressed.

Jake said...

IS THAT LETTER SAYING YOU LEFT THE CHURCH??!!
YOU ARE SICK!!!!

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

Sounds like you really thought about this for a long time as I've read your blog for some time. I left about 10 years ago and took my name from the records. I didn't want to be counted one their roles. I didn't want to misrepresent myself.

The decision to leave the church was the best decision I've made in my life besides marrying my wife. I was worried how things would go at first but it only got better and better after leaving. I hope the same for you. All the best.

Feel free to contact me if you need someone to help you through the transition. I know what it's like. I did a mission and was A.P. and everything.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I forgot to add that I really connected with this part and agree:

Why do the church leaders feel the need to pass laws that prohibit gay people from marrying each other? I don't get it. This is coming from a church that taught that free agency was God's plan and Satan wanted to restrict freedom to conform to what was required.

Well said. I'm still in religion but barely. I'm a Zen Buddhist, which is quite far from strict religiousness. They don't proselytize, they don't believe in a god or commandments. Just contemplation and such. I like it because of the meditation aspect and the "living in the now" stuff.

I also like how they don't believe in being an exclusive club or only way to live your life. It's kind of the religion of no religion. In a lot of ways it's more of a philosophy.

If you're interested in reading about it check out my blog The Buddhist Blog. Don't feel any obligation. AT ALL. I don't want you to think that I'm trying to convert you by ANY means.

That's not what Buddhism is about, it's not what I'm about and that's the last thing I'd want to push on you or anyone right now--or ever. I did the missionary thing as LDS and hated it. No one should follow any group through coercion or manipulation.

Just thought I'd pass it along if you're interested. No biggie eithe way. I won't be offended in the LEAST if you don't visit the blog. Either way I hope you know how much your blog has helped people.

Brother Zelph said...

HBW- thanks for the comments. I will check out the blog!

Jake said...

Hey, guys! I just fond a cool clip on Youtube of Pres. Hinckley being interviewed on ''Larry King Live''. But he IS NOT LYING on this clip! Here is the link if you want to view it: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IsBFIcjE-8

Jake said...

I just checked out the Buddhist Blog. It looked fiction.

Andrew said...

you are a fake!

if you really removed your records from the LDS church. prove it with a screenshot of the letter on your blog.

You should know how to do that considering you posted a screenshot of your letter to your bishop in this post.

http://mormonskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/08/my-resignation-from-church-of-jesus.html

Jake said...

YOU are the fake man!!!! I am saying it has false words about the Church!!!! Once again, YOU ARE THE FAKE!!! I believe in God!! YOU are just making fun of him!!!!