Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To my Mormon family and friends

I'd like to offer a couple apologies and an explanation to all my active Mormon friends and family. First off, I'm sorry for not clarifying better when I criticize the church that I love my Mormon friends and family but I don't love some things the church does. Even if you support those things I see as bad, I still love you. There is a definite and distinct difference in my view. I do not point out problems with the church to hurt you. I do it to help make the world a better place as I'll explain below. Although I'm not sorry for fighting for justice, equality, transparency, and honesty, I'm sorry that things I've said have hurt you because I don't want you to be sad. I do feel a strong need to fight for those morals and will continue to do so because I believe that doing so important.

An analogy to what I'm apologizing for would be like having a dad (my loved ones) that wanted me to be a part of his diary business (his church) like he and his fathers have been doing for years. Despite loving my dad, I hated how his business bought supplies from known child-labor companies (bad things the church does) and I wanted to be a doctor to save lives for my job instead of working for his company even if it didn't buy from those suppliers. I'd feel sorry for the hurt I caused my dad in wanting to do a different job, but wanting to help save lives and not take advantage of abusive child-labor are more important than going against my morals and life desires to make him happy in that one area. I do what I can to make him happy in other areas because I love him. I'd be sorry for the pain my decision caused him, but I would not be sorry for making the decisions I did.

I think a mutual understanding is beneficial here. You are hurt by the things I say about the organization you love and you feel that is directed at you for belonging to it. Please understand that it is not directed to you, but to the organization. I feel hurt because you can't see me as leaving the church and still be as good of a person. Thinking that the church has the ultimate truth makes it so that no matter what I give as my explanation, you ultimately see me deceived, weak or bad.

Furthermore, understand that my desire to point out the errors is my sharing my truth and is the same thing as you doing your member and full time missionary work. So please don't ask me to leave and leave it alone when you also can't leave the world (all other religions) and leave it alone (doing and supporting LDS missionary work). The double standard isn't fair. I think making an analogy that takes the emotions created by the religion out of the equation can help you understand my passion to speak out (If the analogy offends instead of thinking of ways it is admittedly imperfect, consider reasons why I would use it to understand me)...

Here's my crazy immigrant (leaving the church) story. I was born and grew up in North Korea (inside the church) in a town called Chikhalsi (Sandy), but known to the outside world as Pyongyang (Salt Lake City), our capital. If you know anything about my homeland, they control the media (don't tell the whole story of their history in Sunday School, seminary, institute), and information sources. (manuals, videos) so you only hear on the inside what they want you to hear (discourage learning from outside sources). They told us all growing up that our nation (Mormon lifestyle) was the best (happier, freer, healthier) compared to all others. I always wondered if this were true or not. Occasionally I'd see something (studies showing non-religious kids are kinder, drinking coffee makes you live longer) that made me think the rest of the world was doing better than I was told. More human rights (less racism, less sexism, apologies for past racism/sexism), more intellectual freedom, more equality, less bias against science, etc.

I loved my country (the church)! I learned in school (seminary, institute) the history of my country and my love for it (Mormonism) grew even more despite the fears it wasn't what I was told that were growing. There were some weird things (stories that didn't make sense here and there, but I figured if I learned more I'd eventually understand. I was always told that a feeling of national pride (spirit) would confirm that everything the government (church leadership and scriptures) said was true. While I definitely felt those feelings of national pride (feeling good when I did good) I never felt them when reading that my country was the best country ever (one true church). My feelings not matching with their explanations always bothered me and made me question them at times and feel like I was broken at other times.

Along comes the internet which is mostly filtered inside the country (encouraged to teach from church approved manuals and websites only) but I was able (emotionally willing) to go outside of the government limitations and get unfettered (documented sources, not sensationalized hyperbole) information. At first I thought it must be lies because it went against so much of what I'd learned growing up. I tried to point out these discrepancies and was told I was a liar. I tried to make a place in the country for people that didn't think it was the greatest country ever, but loved the people enough to want to stay but was told I had to be on board 100% . Eventually I suffered isolation and learned enough of the true history that it made me want to move out of the country (leave the church). After mentioning this to my wife who had read the same stuff and came to the same conclusions she agreed it wasn't healthy for us to stay anymore. One day after careful preparation we escaped (left the church)! After we left the country and seeing how happy we were the government took away our citizenship. Even after admitting we had only spoken the truth and had actually helped lessen the suffering of many that were in similar situations to our own. Because we said the government wasn't the greatest in the world (one true church of God) we couldn't be citizens any more.

Life in outside of North Korea really is so amazing!! The other day I got a call from my friends back in North Korea. They felt sad for me that I'd left the wonderful country of our heritage and couldn't understand how I could be so much happier with my spiritual, mental and emotional freedoms. They said I must be deceived by the outside world and they wouldn't believe my stories. I tried to explain this but they got very irritated and wouldn't listen, saying I've been fooled by the capitalist (non-Mormon world). They said even though they knew I was always honest, cared about others, did much more research about the country than them, that it didn't matter what I said because they felt good where they were and therefore didn't need to try to see if I was correct about them being happier outside the country. Some admitted that they couldn't try, even though they believed me, because they couldn't handle being rejected by family and friends like I had been rejected. It did made me very sad to be rejected, staying true to my integrity and gaining the other happinesses that I have greatly outweigh that negative!

What surprises me is that people who leave the country because they realize the truth never come back. Yeah, some people leave because they get lost in the woods (choose to leave for sin) and come back, but nobody ever goes back that comes to the same conclusions as me (the church is not true). Out of the thousands of people I know that have escaped, I know of two people that have gone back and both didn't change their mind about the country, they just wanted the community they had despite not agreeing with the country on what it said it was. I was shocked that the people on the outside couldn't see how no one returned as a sign that all of us that escaped were actually telling the truth. We had lived inside and understood them, but they hadn't lived outside and couldn't understand us so making judgments about us was unfair.

Because I love all my North Korean citizens, especially my friends and family that still live there, I occasionally send letters, drop fliers from planes in the air, send radio waves over the border to let them know what life is like on the outside and that they aren't getting the whole story. Hopefully, some of them will let their love for me and their knowledge that I was always an honest, truth seeking, diligently researching person on the inside, motivate them to try and hear my story despite the preconceived notions the country drilled into them about defectors.

Maybe what you should know is that there are a lot of people still inside the country that see what I've said as true but stay silent and remain inside out of fear. They've seen how the country and many citizens have treated me and it scares them to death. They can't imagine going through that pain so they choose silent suffering instead of dealing with the unkind isolation and rejection. Know that the country and many citizens are hurting more than just me.

So, hopefully the above analogy will help you understand why I speak out and not stay silent. Ironically, people often assume that leaving the church means I left my morals behind. My morals are fighting for equality, love, fairness and not hurting others. I will not back down from my morals even if it offends ones that I love. Compromising my integrity to lessen the offense fighting for those morals may cause is something I'm not willing to do. I am sorry that the things I do that hurt you, but please understand I don't do them to hurt you. I've literally had hundreds of people reach out to me and Marisa and say that we've helped them feel less isolated, more understood, less likely to get a divorce, less likely to commit suicide and suffer less in many ways that they have been suffering. Even if you disagree with my conclusions about the church, I hope that you care enough about human suffering to know that what I've done has helped lessen the suffering of thousands of people. Hopefully that will help you respect my desires for a better world even if you disagree on how to get there.

Much love, Carson

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three wonderful friends

 Looking for the five handouts from my DC? They are here.

We feel extremely blessed to have some amazing friends that have stood by us despite our different conclusions on the church.  The chose love over harsh judgement, inclusion over isolation, even at the unfortunate expense of harsh judgement and isolation from others for doing that for us.  We asked three of them to be witnesses for us in our disciplinary council.  They each spoke in a very moving and authentic way and we'll forever love them for that.  This difficult experience has brought us closer together and is a great example of believers and non-believers working together to make the world a better place.

(Nathan, Carson, Aaron, Jeremy)

They have agreed to share some of what they said in our disciplinary council to add to our Mormon Stories podcast.  Jeremy spoke first for a couple minutes, Nathan second for about 15 and finally Aaron for about 30 minutes.  (Also, link to my five handouts that I gave and the explanation of why I used them is given here Disciplinary Council Plan )

See PDF here

See PDF here

See PDF here

Friday, May 22, 2015

Leave And Leave It Alone

Many times when discussing our thoughts on Mormonism, extended family or friends ask me the often repeated Mormon phrase, "If you left the church, why can't you leave it alone?"  Since now I've both left and been kicked out I thought it would be a good time to detail my explanation and have something to point people to when they ask so I don't have to have the long conversation over and over again.

Calling out the church on its problems

Let's start off with "I'm just doing it to follow the prophets." :-)

Despite the many problems I have with Mormonism, one of the things I love about it was the prophet of my young adulthood, Gordon B. Hinckley.  He was a great man and tried hard to connect and love people.  He famously said, "Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing." (1)  Combine that with what the wonderful J. Rueben Clark said (BYU Law School was named after him), “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” (2)  This was my mantra in life, which unfortunately led me out of the church.  The more I investigated it, the more it fell apart until I no longer could believe it was God's one true church anymore.

Taking in all of the above with the strong push we get as Mormons to be member missionaries and share the good word, how could I not want to share what to me is the good word?  Doesn't it also seem a little very hypocritical to send people out on missions, encourage members to share the gospel with their neighbors, even push to do it on social media and then think that I can't do the same?  It would be like a non-member telling a recent Mormon convert, "You can leave the world, but you can't leave it alone."

I have an idea as to why members say this phrase, despite its obvious double standard.  Most members are good people doing good things.  My problems are a lot more with the system than the people.  Everyone I've talked to that will be honest with me admits there are things in the church and its doctrine that bother them.  They choose to put those items on the proverbial shelf and not deal with them.  When someone leaves the church and especially if they point out the problems that made them leave, this brings those items off the shelf and puts it right back in front of them creating cognitive dissonance.  This makes them feel uncomfortable, those issues are on the shelf for a reason.  Rather than deal with them its easier to just vilify the person making you feel that cognitive dissonance and put them back on the shelf.

Talking about the church without attacking it

Beyond that, if you sit back and think about what Mormonism is to a person, especially someone (like myself) who is born in, raised in and almost everyone you know is in the church then it makes up your world view.  The ways you think and act are Mormon.  Finding out the church isn't true, deciding to leave "your tribe" and changing your world view are extremely difficult things to do.  Is it any wonder that people spend some time deconstructing the church?  Many ex-Mormons want very badly to become ex-ex-Mormons, meaning they've moved beyond Mormonism and live a regular life.  This is very hard to do for anyone leaving an extremely dogmatic and conservative religion.  It takes a while to get it out of your system.  Jehovah's Witnesses go through exactly the same thing (if not more) and I don't see Mormons saying that it's proof that church is true as well.

Finding out the church isn't true has been described to be as painful as finding out your spouse is cheating on you with your best friend or losing a child. Many that have experienced either of those and left the church say that the latter is harder.  Experiencing something so traumatic as that is going to make them go through the five stages of grief, one of which is anger.  Of course people are going to spend some time processing such a dramatic change in their life, and yes, some of it is going to be done with anger for most people.  Its really, really hard not to feel powerful anger and lash out.

Mormonism has created a story-telling people.  We dedicate one full worship service a month to getting up and telling our religious stories to each other.  We're asked to share them often in many meetings, even at home.  Humans naturally are story-telling people, and Mormons tend to tell their stories even more.  Deciding the church isn't true is not going to make this long developed personality trait suddenly disappear.

Probably one of the most important reasons why people who leave the church can't leave it alone is because we love you and think you're in a bad system.  We want you to move on to something better, like we have.  Our desire to share our new found happiness motivates us to tell you about it.  My life is so much better in so many ways, but the one way it definitely isn't is in some of my relationships.  Some family and friends who are still members have isolated me, spoken badly about me, and assumed terrible things about me.  That hurts.  We want those relationships back, but for people who won't accept the new, authentic versions of ourselves, it's just not a possibility.  It is our hope that by sharing with you things you most likely don't know, that you'll come to a similar conclusion, and we can all be happier together!


Here are some funny examples of the irony I find in members using this trite phrase on me.  There are so many ways they don't leave ex-Mormons alone, I can't understand how they can say the phrase knowing how much they hound less-active and post-Mormons while keeping a straight face.

I'll make members a promise - when they stop sharing their good word, I'll do the same.  Until then, let's keep searching for the truth because "the truth will set [us] free." (3) and "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation." (2)
Also see our other post on how we are happy to be branded as apostates -

1-Loyalty, Conference, April 2003.
2-J. Reuben Clark, D. Michael Quinn: The Church Years. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24, emphasis added.
3-John 8:23

I am an apostate

We have received the decision from our Stake Presidency about our disciplinary court and it states that we are apostates.  This is a title we wear with honor!  Yes, we are apostates!  We are proud to have been kicked out of an organization that values obedience over truth finding.  We love our Mormon family and friends and recognize that there are many good things in Mormonism, but if it chooses to value certain things that we are morally opposed to, then yes, we are happy to stand up for those values and be cut out of our tribe.  We are sad that they have chosen to do this, to isolate themselves from those that want to help make it a better place.  Those that choose seeking for truth over protecting their image because in the end, the truth will set us free!

We know it can be hard to take a stand, but many are doing it.  As we unite in our efforts to demand love and understanding over isolation and demonization we will all inspire others to do the same.  No longer are ex-Mormons being seen as people that want to leave to sin or because they were lazy.  More and more good people, wanting to make the world a better place, are leaving and to discard the bad of their religion and moving on to a better place by keeping the good.  Inspire those around you to do the same.  Stand up for truth and righteousness!

See our other post about leaving the Church but not leaving it alone -

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Apostasy Disciplinary Council

Many people have asked why we don't resign instead of going through the disciplinary council for what seems to be a sure conviction of apostasy.  The main reason is that we know a lot of people that don't believe anymore, want to discuss their doubts and problems in public, but don't for fear of apostasy or shaming from family, friends and people at work.  Because we are in a position that we've already been through that by coming out about our disbelief publicly we feel that we can be a voice for them to hopefully create that middle ground in Mormonism that Carson worked for so many years to create from the inside.

So, what am I going to say in my DC?

As I always like to post things in bullet format :-) I'll do that here:
  • I'll give a 2 minute synopsis of my growing up in the church and feeling the feelings of the spirit, but only when people did good things, never when praying about the BOM or the church and the conflict that created, compounded by the fact that I felt those exact same feeling while watching fictional movies, etc.  Finally, after serving an extremely dedicated mission and still not getting a witness I partially gave up the hope that I would receive a testimony in 1997, almost 20 years ago.
  • Since then I've been very sympathetic to others that suffer emotional pain from similar circumstances.  I've tried to mourn with those that morn.  This made me spend lots of time over several years trying to help those that suffered shaming and isolation in Mormonism.  A much bigger problem than you realize if you're not experiencing it, one that has grown tremendously over the past few years as more of the factual church history has come to light with the internet.
  • Similarly, because members too often demonize doubt and doubters I've been very public and open about my doubts to normalize the pain others feel and I've shared some troubling church history facts (very few of the many available) to show those that harshly judge doubters that the issues are legitimate and difficult to resolve.
  • My stake president has said that this is not the way of the church and doing so causes some people to lose their testimony when they see what I write, even though its for good intentions.  Also, since the brethren are encouraging people to deal with doubts in private, not public, I'm going against the brethren in being public with my normalization and help.
  • To prove I should not be excommunicated (and more importantly they shouldn't excommunicate the people that are afraid to speak up) I'll share the following 5 handouts that explain my logic.  Yep, handouts :-)
  1. - This will have a bunch of quotes from prophets and apostles telling us themselves that we can't blindly follow them.
  2. - A list of obvious errors committed by the prophets and apostles showing that we should listen the previous document.  Many of these are not known by the general membership.
  3. - List of more quotes from the prophets and apostles saying that we have to think for ourselves and not let them do all the thinking.
  4. - A list of changes in the church and implementation of various policies and practices which started at the grass roots level and were later adopted by the general church.  As you can see there, almost every program in the church started this way, almost never top down.  Combine that with the recent request from Elder Clayton Christiansen telling members to help make changes so the brethren can see what helps.
  5. With the above stated I hope they'll see that doing what I have done for years (1-search for truth, 2-help others suffering from troubling church history know they are not alone, 3-show those demonizing doubts and doubters that there are legitimate church problems) is not only allowed in Mormon doctrine, but encouraged, and even recently.  To cap that all off, I'll give them my list of top 7 questions about church history that I couldn't solve to show them that these issues are legitimate.  I'll give them only the first two pages, not the several pages of source material
 Hopefully seeing the logic of my argument, the doctrinal support of my argument and my sincere desires to search for truth and alleviate the suffering of those that the general members don't understand, they'll have the courage to do what is right and help create that space.  I'll end with the following three questions:
  1. Does the truth have anything to fear? 
  2. Will the truth not set us free? 
  3. Isn't the glory of God intelligence, or light and truth?
...with a plea to follow the spirit and their hearts and not expected cultural norms.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Life After Leaving The Church

Disclaimer: I don't think that leaving Mormonism is going to be good for everyone at all stages.  For many people, it is working for them, they are happy and leaving would be too traumatic and unsettling.  For others, though they fear it, leaving can be liberating and freeing.

We've had so many people ask us about our leaving the church.  It's been kind of crazy!  Not only have we made tons of new friends that have also left and love to share stories about it, pretty much all of our friends (though not much family) have asked us about it.  Surprisingly, tons of non-Mormons have asked us about it too.  They find it fascinating and like to dive deep into the experience we've had.  Here's a collection of thoughts on the good, the bad and the interesting of leaving the Mormon church.

  1. Ways life is not better 
  2. Things we feared before that we no longer fear 
  3. Ways life is better
  4. Interesting extras

Ways life is not better:
  • I don't want anyone to misunderstand me...going through a faith transition when a Mormon sucks bad!  Working through it often allows a person to end up in a better place, but the actual transition is terrible, especially if the process is drug out for decades like mine was.  That is why on one hand I don't want to do or say anything that would put someone into that terrible, confusing place.  On the other hand I do want to for reasons I'll explain another day :-)
  • I hurt some of my family and friends and I became less in their eyes.  I know several people that suffer in silence and won't be open about their disaffection because of this point alone.  That has been sad to see the sadness in loved ones and know that many will continue to suffer silently because they can't be open and authentic like we have.
  • Although this part is over, it was very difficult to figure out my identity.  My whole life I was Mormon and it permeated every single aspect of my life.  Leaving that behind made me have to rethink everything.  That was scary and difficult.  Many people say the worst part of a Mormon faith crisis is actually the identity crisis that it brings about.
  • Find out who your true friends are.  This actually is in two different sections because it's been a good thing and a bad thing.  It's sad to find out that some people can't handle to be around us despite being the same good people we've always been, just people that don't believe in the same metaphysical things as them anymore. 

Things we feared before that we no longer fear (in no particular order):
  • I lost the comfort that came from believing if I lived a certain way then I'd definitely go to a good place and that good place definitely existed.  With the loss of a testimony and not believing those things the church taught as absolute truths anymore comes with the difficulty of the unknown.  I now have the uncomfortable belief that this life might be all there is.  That isn't such a big problem anymore.  It makes me cherish this life and my time with my wife and kids even more.  I want to spend as much of it as I can with them.  As I've replaced church activities that didn't do much for anyone (temple service, meetings upon meetings, etc.) with family time, my family bonds have increased tremendously (seriously, surprisingly more than I would have expected).  I have a greater joy than I previously did because of my kids and the love that comes from increasing those bonds.  I can't help but share this ironic video here...Isn't It About Time?
  • We were afraid that not having the church in the lives of our kids would make it harder to raise them to be good people.  We were afraid that not having those powerful dogmas backed by fear of eternal damnation and promise of eternal blessings that our kids wouldn't be motivated enough to be good, kind people.  As time went on we realized how half of that motivation was out of fear and the other half always came with the unknown of, “Is there really heaven?” that everyone wonders at times.  We've replaced that way of raising children with what we believe are more powerful creeds of Science and Humanism.  There is so much amazing information on how to be kind, empathetic, strong and courageous people that science has learned over the past few decades.  Furthermore, scientifically backed studies have shown that using the rod to discipline children as the Bible says is bad and in fact it is better to spare the rod.  We feel we have better resources than before that we can use more efficiently and they are more powerful motivations.  For example, this article shows how families that raise children with non-religious but moral values help create more moral children on average.  (
  • You can reach for many of the same goals you had in your life before as a Mormon, just for a different purpose now.  You can switch from doing it for the church, Christ, etc. to something like Humanism.  We evolved as all community oriented species to release chemicals that make us happy when we help others in our community (this is called the emotion of Elevation by the way  Reach out to others with a helping hand in love because you love humans and want the world to be a better place.  You can continue to be a great, kind person.  You don't have to leave your kindness behind with your Mormonism.

Ways life is better (in no particular order):
  • It was toxic to us (in different ways) to be in a "faith crisis/transition" and now that's over.  For more info on the specifics read our personal stories here.  Basically, Carson felt terrible for decades that he never got any spiritual manifestation as promised and kept working harder and harder to get it thinking he was broken in some way because he couldn't.  Marisa felt subjugated and oppressed for being a woman that had to fit a certain profile that didn't match her nature.  Deciding (for us) that the system is broken, not us and therefore finally letting go of it has been so liberating.  We can keep all the good and discard all the bad.  This has allowed us to be so much happier.
  • The feeling is so nice to not have to make excuses for the things I used to disagree with but felt I had to be ok with since Mormonism was ok with them.  There was a strong frustration in my life for years where I felt so many things were wrong with the church and its history, but felt like I was bad for feeling that way.  Now I can unapologetically say things like marrying a 14 year old girl as a thirty something year old man and lying to your wife about it is bad 100%, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  I feel sad seeing people try to justify these things they feel are bad, but feel have to be OK for some reason because Mormonism is God's church.
  • The church demonizes doubt, critical thinking of religion, leaders, tradition, etc.  I always felt push back for promoting science so much.  If science ever disagreed with Mormon culture or doctrine it was because science was wrong, never because Mormon thought was wrong.  I can love science fully now.  I don't have to think it is wrong because it disagrees with cultural beliefs.  I can seek for greater truth and light and continue to help this process of mankind's understanding that has steadily grown to a greater and greater understanding.  I no longer have to believe in a God of the Gaps.
  • I don't have to see myself as a broken person anymore.  Like I said above, I felt like I was broken because I couldn't ever get that elusive spiritual confirmation that I was told I would if I were worthy of it.  I tried harder than most because I wasn't getting anything more significant than feelings I would feel while watching a movie about humans coming together to fight aliens.  Now that I've accepted that the church isn't the one true church, I can see the system as broken, not me.  I'm a great person for trying so hard and finally having the strength to not compromise my integrity anymore by being open and bold about my beliefs.  To do what is right and let the consequences follow.
  • Giving money to charity instead of the church is so much more satisfying because you know where it goes and what is done with it.  You can choose how you want to help and do what is the most important to you instead of giving it to an organization where you have no idea what is specifically done with your money and how they use most of what they get. I get more satisfaction from the couple percent of my net I give now compared to the 10 percent of gross I used to give.
  • You can spend the time you did spend on reading scriptures to read self help books instead.  This is so much more productive!  Yes, at times the scriptures would help you gain insights and yes, it can at times be peaceful to read something that is so important to you, but reading books of your choice by experts in their fields can bring such greater amounts of improvement and satisfaction. 
  •  Having our two primary creeds be Science and Humanism allows us to lose the frustration we had when seeing the church with problems but not be able to help fix them or even openly discuss them.  It won't admit them and you can't suggest changes on any significant level. That always bothered me.  Science knows it will get things wrong and expects you to challenge its conclusions.  It is OK with you disagreeing with it if you have a logical argument and asks you to prove it in an effort to constantly improve.  Religion tells you that you are the problem if you disagree.  Leaving that frustration behind and feeling like not only can we, but we are invited to help improve human understanding of the universe is freeing and satisfying.
  • Find out who your true friends are.  This is the second of two sections it is in. Several friends have directly told us that they know we are good people, even if we came to different conclusions about the LDS faith, but they still love us and want to be with us.  Not only did they say that, but they actually meant it.  That was super rewarding and brought us all closer together.

Interesting things that I now see after leaving but couldn't see as well or at all before (in no particular order):
  • The amount of confirmation bias that I had up until the end is surprising.  I thought that as a long time doubter who was very critical of the church that I was able to clearly see all the faults and emotionally remove myself from the church and its culture.  Looking back at things I made excuses for or accepted just a short while before leaving publically is mind boggling to me.  Now that I'm emotionally unattached little problems seem so much bigger now.  It is easy to see how as humans our tribalism nature allows us to not see our own tribes flaws while easily being able to see others.  Similar to how we can see others problems easier than our own, until I left openly, Mormonism was still such a part of me that I was giving it more of a pass than I thought I was.
  • It's been amazing how non-Mormons talk so much more openly to me now that I've left.  People I've known for years openly discuss how weird the religion is and how they have no desire to join despite Mormons being so nice.  Not only are people so surprisingly open, but so many people feel this way.  As a member that was openly critical for so long, I'm surprised that I didn't hear that more often before.  Even though I wasn't trying to convert people for several years, I thought I knew fairly well how people thought.
  • Leaving and making it known that you have left allows you to connect with others that have made or think of making the same decision. It's surprising how many amazing,  kind,  truth seeking people are in this same boat. It used to be that if you left you would likely feel more alone, but so many good people are making this same decision that it makes you feel more confident that you are making a good decision. It's also been great to connect with so many amazing people.  It's also been great to connect with people that are hurting because of the faith and identity crisis.  Its fulfilling to reach out to them in love, support them and connect.  It's what I always thought Zion would be like and I ironically feel closer to that with those that hurt because of the church.