Why I Have Chosen To Leave The Church

This past week has been one of difficulty, anxiety and stress as I try to deal with the backlash from church leadership regarding how I have felt that I have been lied to on one of the tenants of the LDS church doctrine which I believe to be false and not true doctrine. These concerns were raised based on scriptural evidences that do not support the claim of the LDS church. Most notably around the issue of masturbation. I felt I needed to share my feelings on the matter so that others can perhaps begin to understand the harm this stance has caused. I brought my blog post to my Bishop so that he may also understand how I feel as I won’t let my children suffer from the church teachings as I have on this matter.

He soon read some of my other post relating to nudity, modesty and pornography. I soon learned he felt that was also speaking out against church doctrine despite scriptural backing to my positions and conclusions. Sadly this had a snowball effect in our meetings leading to feelings of frustration, and perhaps some anger on both parts.

It was not long before I was asked to return my temple recommend for not sustaining church leadership and doctrine, and being in open opposition to the teachings of the church. Though I had committed no sin by refusing to accept everything by the same interpretation of church teachings and stated that we have been lied to by church leadership on certain issues, this was serious enough of a sin for him to take my recommend and was told that this could very well lead to disciplinary council and ex-communication. I had endeavored to explain and demonstrate numerous statements and claims made by church leadership that were clearly false, misleading and straight out lies which could not be disputed.  This was done in an effort to show how church leaders have been wrong and why I am not guilty of apostasy as I had been accused because of my statements, reasoning and evidences give sufficient reason to validate the truth of them. Some examples of this included Brigham Young stating that Marrying a black person is worthy of death. Spencer W Kimball, past prophet, stated Masturbation can make you gay. Gordon B Hinkley stated an obvious lie regarding Polygamy on Larry king. A doctrine that the Church claims had been restored by Joseph Smith and the church has never refuted, and still states today is an eternal principle as per my former bishop, even if it is not practiced any more. And yet the Prophet of God said it was not doctrinal despite LDS scriptures saying otherwise.

Considering what Gordon B Hinkley is on record as saying I would argue that he failed to uphold church leadership and prophets before him. Based on what I have been told, that to speak out and deny the doctrine publicly in open opposition which is what Hinkley has done in this video clip, that is grounds for charges of Apostasy. Was Hinkley then an Apostate? Or is it by virtue of his station he can say and do things that for me or anyone else would be considered sin, wrong and grounds for possible disciplinary action. My former Bishop has declared that Polygamy is an eternal principle. And yet that is in direct opposition to Hinkley’s statement that polygamy is not doctrine. Perhaps he should seek to have the stake president take his recommend for saying such things. No matter how you look at it someone is lying somewhere. It is no sin to say so, it is however sin to deny it and threaten those that dare point it out.

These are just a few examples of incorrect, false and misleading statements made by prophets and leaders of the the LDS church. Despite even these few examples it seems that the idea of suggesting the church or its leaders could be wrong on anything is akin to apostasy and must be silenced at all cost under threat of ex-communication.

Dieter F Uchtdorf explains that the church leaders are not perfect, and mistakes have been made. It also included some very valid and legit questions that many members have been asking. So if leaders have made mistakes, and this is known and accepted, why then is the church so strict and swift in taking action against members who dare to point out those mistakes? what is more important? being right with God or being right with the church?

The Bishops handbook speaks on opposition to church leaders as apostasy. Based on some statements made by my former bishop he is in opposition to some prophets. For example, polygamy he states is doctrine, contradicting Hinkley who has contradicted other past prophets and the scriptures themselves. Given that one could conclude that Hinkley  was in fact an apostate, or at the very least, being in open opposition to previous church leadership. It would seem that it is acceptable to be opposed to doctrines and statements by church leaders if you are a church leader, but not if you are a ordinary member. The handbook states specifically that one must not be in open opposition. I believe that is the key here. You can freely oppose doctrine, policy or even leaders themselves as long as you keep it to yourself. The bishop denied this is the case and opted to not debate the meaning of the words themselves.

An example that was presented to me was that if one did not agree with tithing, then does that mean that one should just stop paying it and it would be acceptable to speak out against it. I had responded to that argument that I have no issue with the principle of tithing, nor do I have any objection to paying as I have seen nothing that would cause me to be so concerned about tithing that it would give me moral or ethical objections as other issues have. However since the subject was brought up I had stated that I felt that the church is not transparent on the use of tithes. The church has not disclosed details of it’s finances and expenditures publicly since the 1970’s and since then they have invested in numerous commercial enterprises such as multi billion dollar retail developments, stock markets, banks and political lobbying of governments even though the churches declaration of neutrality in political matters. With an estimated 7 billion in revenues from tithes I do not believe it is unreasonable to expect that the church be accountable to the members that are funding it for the use of those tithes.

The Bishop, sadly, did not take kindly to my apparent opposition to tithing and told me that the church is not a corporation, it is not accountable to me or anyone else but God for the use of tithes and they are under no obligation to disclose to its members or anyone else what that money is used for. I was told that I was not an investor in the church and it is none of my concern how that money is spent. The tithing money is God’s money, I was told and the church is accountable to God not me or anyone else. All of which were lies piled upon lies.

  1. The church is a corporation and is legally organized as such as the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as is the corporation of the First Presidency and the Corporation of the Quorum of the 12. This is how the church appears on all legal documents. The church is a corporation.  This is a proven, verifiable, documented reality. To state otherwise is false and misleading statement.
  2. God has no need for money, he rules the universe and has absolutely no need for money in any form. The church needs money from its members to operate and it collects that money from the members in the form of tithes.
  3. If you are going to demand that members give up billions a year in tithing, you better damn well be accountable to them for how their money is being spent. You have a responsibility to do so and to suggest that we should just “shut up and give up your money” with no accountability is wrong, always has been, always will be.
  4. Organized religion is the perfect business model because you do not have to abide by the same laws actual corporations are required to and yet it allows you to generate billions in revenue with no accountability to the ones who provide that revenue. When you refused to be accountable to the members for how their tithes are used it is nothing less than fraud, robbery and deceit.
  5. The church has invested billions in commercial developments and other businesses. I did not pay tithing to support commercial operations and businesses but to further the work of God and support the church. The church needs to be accountable for this.
  6. We are all investors in this church. Members around the world invest so much of their lives, talents, resources, time and money into this church and such an attitude of we are not investors is shameful, ignorant, belligerent, disrespectful and sickening. It demonstrates and complete lack of respect for the sacrifice millions of people around the world are making every day for this organization. Many people sacrifice more for their religion and church than any other aspect of their lives and you better damn well show some respect and appreciation for that. Such a position does neither and is nothing short of slavery of the membership under threat of damnation for themselves and their families if they do not comply.

I was also told that the church is not a democracy, but a theocracy and I do not get a say in how it is to be run. I must sustain the leaders at all cost, regardless of my personal feelings. This however is completely false. The church is in fact supposed to be a democracy, not a theocracy. This is well established in the Doctrine and Covenants, what you could say is the constitution of the LDS church.

D & C 26:2

And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.

D & C 28:13

For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

D & C 104:71-72

And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order.

And this shall be the voice and common consent of the order—that any man among you say to the treasurer: I have need of this to help me in my stewardship—

D & C 104:85

 And pledge the properties which I have put into your hands, this once, by giving your names by common consent or otherwise, as it shall seem good unto you.

The law of common consent was established as a check and balance to the church to ensure that not any one person, or group within the church obtain more power or authority than they should ever have. The inherent risk involved without this counter check in place was recognized in the early organization of the church. The reason for this was also recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:

D & C 121:39

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Sadly this is the state of the church today. The laws of the church are not being followed. Power and authority is being taken back to a select few and the members ability to safeguard themselves from unrighteous dominion within the church is diminished. The only power we have left is to leave. And when you try to do so your family is held for ransom. I am told that if I go down this path then my entire family’s eternal salvation is at risk as per Bishop. This is also a false and misleading statement as both my wife and I have received all ordinances the church offers for this purpose, my children still have their free-agency to partake if they so choose. The bishop is not in a position to judge that. In the end only God can be the final and ultimate judge of my eternal salvation.  While I have been told by my former bishop that I cannot live the gospel without my name on the records of the church one can live the gospel and live happy lives without the church in control of them and their families.

The position of the church is clear, which is If I accept Joseph smith as a prophet then I must accept all men from that time forth as prophets and that the church is lead by God, and if it is led by God surely it cannot be guilty of any unethical practices nor have any men of questionable character and so we should not be questioning them for any reason. If I do not trust the church then I do not believe that Joseph Smith was  prophet. It is a very one extreme or the other attitude that ignores all possibility of wrong doing. It really is a for or against us attitude, and it is dangerous and manipulative.

When we cannot accept the faults of these men and speak out against those things which are harmful and wrong with what has been said and done and is being done now, it is not evil, or wrong to do so. God would not have us support evil so as to ensure we support his church leaders.  When we are told that we should just trust them no matter what and without exception, it amounts to worship of men and church not God.

The Church and its leaders has stated on numerous occasions that they are not perfect, they make mistakes and have said and done some things that were not right at time. It seems however that the only ones allowed to point out the errors of the leaders and the church are those in the hierarchy and anyone else who does so it amounts to blasphemy, apostasy and sin. I have no desire to engage in idol worship. The demands and expectations of the church amount to worship of church and its leaders rather than worship of God and that is wrong in every way. When I see something wrong I will say something. No amount of pressure and implications that I will not be saved in heaven If I do not comply will change that.

Having the ability to openly dissent is important for any church to not only retain members long term but to prosper and grow. Stats show that church growth in Canada and the U.S.  has at the very most flat lined. The church is losing as many members as it is gaining. This is evident from My experience and from what I have researched is that this is by far one of the leading causes of this crisis. How long before membership starts to decrease? How much will it take for the church to recognize the reasons it’s members are unhappy within their organization? Many I have talked to feel the same way I do but won’t publicly speak because of the fear of losing those connections they have in the church. I however must ask what is more important, the church, or truth? I will stand for righteousness at all times, in all places. I will worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and not the dictates of the LDS church. This is after all one of the core beliefs.

Article Of Faith 11

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

All of this demonstrates a clear attitude of control and conformity and not honest, open and intelligent discussion for the betterment of all involved. And this is why I have chosen to walk away from this church. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know for the foreseeable future It does not involved me attending the LDS church. As for the rest of my family, I will support them in whatever they choose. I however cannot align myself with A church more concerned with the fragile image of its leaders than honest worship and reverence for God.

And that is the gospel according to Andrew


I Am At A Critical Crossroads

Moving to British Columbia from Alberta has really given me the opportunity to really break out of my comfort zone. The social circles and relationships I have built up in the church are no longer holding me back from my expressing my views in a public forum and bringing these views to the attention of local leadership in the church. The relationships that may have been strained as a result of my views on everything from modesty, nudity and masturbation no longer hold me back as those people, while still good friends are no longer people I spend time with due to being in BC while they are in Alberta. Being here has allowed me to re-establish myself and break out of my shell. This has led to the point of being at a critical crossroads in my relationship with the church of which I am a member.

My life in the church has been one of tremendous blessings and benefits. I have received support, love, peace and happiness within the faith I have been raised in for the greater part of my adult life, if not all of it.

Now I find myself confronted with a seemingly impossible decision. My temple recommend has been taken, while not fully unexpected still frustrating because I feel as if I have done no wrong. While I can recognize that, yes I have brought this on myself by being public in my views and drawing attention to them by telling my Bishop, I feel and know that if I did not speak up on matters of concern to me and millions of others in the church then It would only have fostered boiling resentment and frustration. I would never be able to have peace in my heart and mind knowing I was sitting back and saying nothing while my children’s well-being was at risk. Considering the conversations I have had with other members, I have not spoken anything that was not already being thought by many. I have only had two people outside of local leadership who disagree with me within the church that I have spoken to. There are many more who agree with me and support my position. From my conversations this is a common position within the church. (see https://gospelperspective.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/a-lie-of-masturbatory-proportions/)

I am now at the point that because I have expressed my position publicly I must now choose between keeping silent on issues of concern to me, or speaking up and being denied access to full membership and temple worship. I hate feeling like I am being censored, told to be quiet or else. I can’t ever see myself denying my feelings on the matter, nor can I say there is no possibility of ever feeling this strongly about anything else again. At this point I basically have three choices

1: Keep quiet and never speak on matters publicly where I disagree with church teachings or policy, and gain access to the temple again, admit I am wrong and promise to sustain all teachings in the future.

My biggest concern with this scenario is that If I were to go back and admit any wrong doings it would not be completely truthful to myself, My God or my Bishop. What I have written and spoken on publicly is from my heart and with the desire to protect my children and bring awareness to this issue. To go back and ask forgiveness for acting in the interest of my children and to help others be aware of the dangers in how these issues are dealt with would be a greater sin than simply staying quiet on the matters and complying with Church expectations.

With respect to matters that affect my family directly this is the only issue that has any direct impact which is why I have spoken up on it rather than other issues which are just as harmful. I have seen the effect the churches LGBTQ policies have had on others. I have a personal friend who is Trans-gender, whom I baptized, that has left the church due to how the church deals with LGBTQ issues. Another friend of mine has a Lesbian daughter, others I know have similar situations that have affected them negatively as well.

2: Stick to my convictions, and risk further action on the churches part up to and including ex-communication.

This scenario would end all opportunity for me to attend the temple, partake of sacramental ordinances, or baptize my other children when they come to the age of accountability. I would have no membership and none of the opportunity the church provides for me, my children as a result would be denied the same.

3: Preemptively end my membership, giving me the freedom to write and speak as I see fit without having to deal with pressure from leadership in an attempt to control my message.

Sadly this would also limit future opportunity within the church for my children and family as well. I want to be able to baptize my children, even If can’t go to the temple, that at least is something that I want to be able to do.

None of these options are realistically ones I want to deal with but I now must. It seems the one option I would like is to agree to disagree,  continue to live by the standards of the church as I do now (even if I disagree with some of those standards) and maintain all the rights and privileges full membership comes with. However that is not an option that has been given to me.

On my way to work as I was listening to music on my phone, One of the Tea Party’s songs came on called waters on fire. Some the words to this song certainly describe in a way how I am feeling at this moment. Slightly changed to reflect for myself, I have taken liberty to add some comments and explanation of parts of this song regarding how I am feeling on this matter.

Here we are one last chance (Meaning the church and I)
Can we share this final dance
If I stay it falls apart
It’s sad but true
I’ll break your heart

I shouldn’t stay here with you (meaning the church in my case)
For all you know (meaning the church)
What was, what is will now be
For all the world to see

I feel no shame, I was to blame
Water’s on fire
I feel no shame, I will not change
(The) Water’s on fire
You thought the truth was only you (meaning only the church has truth and no one and nothing else)
My love or desire (Meaning that surely my love and desire to be part of the church will keep me aligned with church thinking)
I feel no shame, I will not change
(The) Water’s on fire

The challenge now is to reconcile my concerns with the expectation of the church and its leadership so that I may be able to enjoy full membership. Given that there are other issues that I feel I need to speak out about, I feel that I cannot commit to not writing about such things again or other issues that I have strong concerns about.

I am committed to living the gospel no matter how much I may disagree with church leadership on any given issue, policy or doctrine. I do understand that speaking my mind publicly in the way that I have may not seem that way to some, however it was never intended as a public display and lack of support or refusal to sustain church leadership. It was and always will be meant to express concern over what I have felt is an injustice to millions of members around the world. I will continue to write about my beliefs, faith and the gospel and express concerns in order to promote discussion on issues of importance within the church.

The church is such a big part of my life, it is sad that It has come to this. I can only hope and pray that things will work out in the end. There is nothing more for me to say in opposition to teaching at this point. I will let others carry the torch of those issues which affect them.

For now however, I will not make any decisions and work closely with my Bishop to bring reconciliation so that I may once again have the opportunity to attend the temple. What that looks like remains to be seen. I just hope that we can come to an understanding of each other so that we may be able to move on without issue.

What I cannot help but wonder at this point is regardless of the outcome will I be happy with the church or satisfied with maintaining membership at all. Even assuming things get resolved and full temple blessing are resumed will I be happy? Will I want to continue in the church. I have no desire to leave but after the way I have been dealt with I feel that my feelings, opinions and concerns are not welcome in this organization. What is left for me but dis-contentment and unhappiness?

I want to believe that I can be happy long term with a final resolution but I am not sure that I can truly say that is the case. It’s frustrating because I love the gospel and the church but can’t help but wonder if my independent thought and expression of thought is truly welcome. How long will it be before I am called in to question over my stance or position on any given issue in the future?

Please take the time to share with me your thoughts on this matter. Your comments are welcome.