What the “damned” apostates want you to understand

They don’t believe that they are damned

It is highly unlikely that an individual would leave the church believing that what they were doing was wrong and that they would be punished for it. They start to leave for a wide variety of reasons, but once they leave most don’t feel guilt. They’ve decided the church is a lie, why would they care what supposed punishment you warn will happen to them if they don’t come back.

A good friend who recently left the church sent me this

The girl I was 2 years ago would be shocked with who I am and where I am at now. But the woman I am today is proud of the choices I am making. The woman I am today loves the choices I am making. The woman I am today is happy. I am happier now than I have ever been in my life.

Does that sound like someone who you can guilt-trip into coming back to church?

They are happy

Leaving was painful and it was hard. Leaving meant losing all I had ever known. And that was scary as hell. Not only was it scary but it hurt. It hurt knowing the pain that many family and friends feel because of my choice. It hurts knowing that they won’t believe me when I say, “I am the happiest I have ever been.”

I fear that there is a gross misunderstanding of what the gospel requires and what the gospel gives you. Being an active member of the church doesn’t mean that you will be happy and leaving the church doesn’t mean that you will live the rest of your days in misery. It’s about constantly working to make yourself better and that is an exhausting process.

If you have spent your entire life beating yourself up for your weaknesses, then leaving the church would be a huge relief. Whether or not you believe that the gospel will pay off, in the end, is beside the point.

They aren’t satisfied with your vague responses to doubts

I was an active member, attending every week. I worked in the temple as an ordinance worker (so it really offended me when people asked, “Haven’t you thought about your covenants?!” Of course I had, I had them all memorized, I knew them better than most did). I paid my tithing. I read my scriptures every day. I prayed every day.

Member with doubts: I just think it’s total garbage that blacks were denied the priesthood for so long. Why do you think that is?

Friend: Well maybe the real reason you are having doubts is that you aren’t reading your scriptures and praying enough.

Member with doubts:

This is what happens.


What an incredibly lazy and foolish way to address a doubt.

This response:

  1. Puts blame on the doubter. “You don’t believe because you just aren’t spiritual enough”.
  2. Implies that magically complex doubts will resolve themselves through vaguely directed scripture reading and prayer. Seems a lot like firing a machine gun blindly into a forest and expecting to find that you have taken down the beautiful buck that you might have seen in there last week.
  3. Dodges the question entirely. A simple, “I don’t know” would be better.

Another situation:

Member with doubts: How come I just found out that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy? Feels like someone was hiding it from me.

Friend: I don’t know about that, but I KNOW that the church is true and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

Member with doubts: Okay…

Another blatant lack of listening and empathy. Testimony bombing someone with doubts does nothing for them. If someone is coming to you with doubts, they haven’t made up their minds. Many times they are asking, possibly begging you to help them stay in the church. They want to talk out the doubt. They want to resolve it. Vomiting your testimony on them while they are trying to vent is simply going to ensure that they don’t open up to you again.

They still want to be your friend

I was a leader. But there were a lot of good things during those 18 months too. I made some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever had. And two people that I met in particular while in Brazil have helped me through this challenging year more than I or they could have ever imagined. One is another missionary that I served with. One is a girl I taught and helped get baptized. They love and support unconditionally.

Even many of those who despise the Church will admit that they miss the social support of the church. They don’t hate you, they might hate Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or even God, but if you were their friend in the church they will hope that you are still their friend after leaving the church. It’s possible that many friends will withdraw from them.  Having a non-judgmental friend will make their life happier.

This applies to sincere and close friends only.

They don’t want your self-righteous concern

So many people began treating me differently during this whole process. Some people begged me to stay. Some people just stopped talking to me.

If someone you met in a singles ward four years ago leaves the church, they probably don’t care what you think about them leaving. They absolutely will not appreciate you pretending to be closer than you actually are. Imagine leaving and then receiving dozens of messages from people you haven’t heard from in years, asking “Are you okay?”, “Need to talk?”, or “Praying for you!!!”. It would be insulting and frankly, make me think “wow I dodged a bullet getting out of that cult”.

I’m not saying that this is as a definitive rule, but be aware of your intentions. Are you doing this to feel good about yourself? Do you believe that you reaching out to them at that moment will have some actual positive effect on their life?

They don’t want to be judged

I knew that many people in the church would view my choice to leave as a sign of weakness, that I wasn’t strong enough to hold on. And anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t like to be perceived as weak.

The whole “judge not, lest ye be judged” was meant to be applied literally. Empathy is the key.

Bear with me on this

An example of what I mean is shown in a story told of George Washington, who, meeting a coloured man in the road once, who politely lifted his hat, lifted his own in return. Some of his white friends who saw the incident criticised Washington for his action. In reply to their criticism George Washington said: “Do you suppose that I am going to permit a poor, ignorant, coloured man to be more polite than I am?”

Washington, Booker T.. Up from Slavery (Dover Thrift Editions) (p. 38). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

Ex-Mormons most likely think that you are stupid, naive or stubborn for remaining in the church. You most likely believe that on some level you are superior to them. Are we going to permit that a poor, ignorant, apostate be more polite than us?


I apologize for the sharp tone I have taken in this article, I merely hoped to drive the point home. I have watched as friends have left the church and members have responded in a grossly inappropriate fashion. I am embarrassed by these actions and hope that they are caused by curable ignorance. It is my hope that a bridge of friendship can be extended and a common understanding reached.

10 responses to “What the “damned” apostates want you to understand

A great article until your last sentence. Please don’t call a person who has gone through all you described as a “poor ignorant apostate”. We are anything but that. That sentence almost negates the rest of your trying to understand someone who has chosen to leave for the reasons you describe. Thanks for the rest of the article though !

I think she was just a bit sarcastic towards the “Orthodox mormons” by the expression “poor ignorant apostate” since she herself is no longer a mormo. I found the article well thought and well written.

Hi Drew: I don’t know you. But a friend just shared your post with me.

I want to share a few thoughts. You completely misunderstand why we leave. We don’t have issues with polygamy, per se (or any other issue).

Rather, we have problems with the detail. We have problems with a 37 year old Joseph coercing a 14 year old child into marrying and f••king him… under the guise of it being “God’s will.”

We have a problem with JS sending his friends (apostles) on missions… and then coercing their wives into marrying and f**king him.

Joseph Smith, Jr, Brigham Young, John Taylor… their behavior was very Warren Jeffs-ish. It is ugly. And after you study polygamy in-depth, your only conclusion is that it was corrupt and gross. It least that is how many of us see it.

We leave the Church because we discover that The Mormon Church is not honest with its history OR truth claims. We leave because we discover lies and corruption.

We leave because we don’t see enough New Testament Christianity in Mormonism. The morality in the Mormon Church no longer aligns with the morality we aspire towards.

The Mormon Church is a very Old Testament type Christian Church. It has skewed towards teaching a gospel of fear, obedience, judgement, and pious devotion.

We leave because we don’t see enough New Testament Christianity in Mormonism. We want to see hope, love, and grace. And that is the message we see Him sharing in the Gospels.

When we leave, we find an increase in peace because we no longer worry about being perfect. We focus on being good. That’s all He asks for. And He has told us that his grace is sufficient.

We are not ignorant or foolish. We are not lazy. The Mormon Church is bleeding strong, faithful leaders. We are thoughtful. Many of us spent years studying, praying, fasting, and fact-checking. We gave a heck of a lot more to this journey than the average Jane or John Doe sitting in the pews on any given Sunday.

Let’s just simply agree that we don’t agree. We try not to call you all out for being members of a cult. We don’t criticize you for being fooled by the wolves Christ warned about in the New Testament. So please don’t be a jerk in return.



Hey Joe,
The points you’ve given are understandable, but yet they are given because of your own ignorance to the Gospel. You put concern in your own mind that doesn’t even need to be there. You assume things that you don’t even need to worry about. Polygamy is what “you’re” worried about, because it’s something that’s unatural. I agree with that…but because it was a Commandment from God at the time (commandments are something very familiar to the Nee Testament, something which you needed “proof” for) the people Saints followed without question (faith) even if it seemed gross or wrong

I also don’t understand where you get the idea that the church doesn’t teach hope, faith, and love…what is the 4th article of faith? It clearly defines these words you’re searching for.

And why not strive for perfection? After all, we’re trying to be like Jesus? (Sung in the most basic form in primary). If you settle for just “good”, which isn’t bad, you then aren’t any closer to seeing your full potential…sorry Joe, but it is laziness, it is ignorance brought out by what you are saying. It’s a lack of moving forward in faith, but rather “I have to see everything and have proof. I need the easy way out,” which again is something Christ DOESN’T teach in the Old or New Testament.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, especially about religion, but make sure you really look deep down at exactly why you don’t believe particular things….it really does come down to reading the scriptures, and earnestly praying, maybe even like Enos did, all the day and night none stop. Do that before throwing in the towel at a little tiny sign of controversy or hardship, then you’ll truly come to realize what is really important to be concerned about

Also, I’d like to point out that I speak all this coming from the background of having many many doubts about the church, and these are very generalistic for most as to why they leave. I invite you to consider what I’ve said Joe…Drew, it was an interesting article, even though quite a few points I don’t even understand or agree with

Hi Caleb:

You missed the point even more than Drew did. And your response, frankly, it screams of pious douchery. I suspect that wasn’t intentional. But it is what it is. I want to share a few ideas. Hopefully you can gain some additional insight?


Let’s start with Polygamy. Drew brought it up as an issue. I referenced it only for that reason. However, if either of you believe that Polygamy is the only reason we leave… then clearly us exMormons are doing a poor job of conveying our concerns.

The Mormon Church has always tried to put a positive spin on polygamy. That spin was oriented around the idea that polygamy was always done out of altruistic righteousness. But it wasn’t the case.

Early polygamy was coercive. Minor children were involved. Married women were involved. It was ugly.

For me to accept polygamy… using your logic… I would need to accept that it is okay simply because “God Commanded It.” That is ridiculous, and it requires a major stretch.

The Old Testament also says I can rape a woman… and that if I rape her she must marry me. The OT says I can kill my children if they are disrespectful. And it tells me to avoid pork.

But while these things were OT commands, it does NOT mean I am going to accept them. Nor does it mean I am going to give these immoral actions a pass. Okay… eating pork may not be immoral. 😉

While Christ was out ministering, the Pharisees looked for cause to crucify Him. On one occasion, Christ was out teaching the people… and a Chief Lawyer (who was a Pharisee) came to Christ.

“Master, what is the greatest commandment?”

I imagine that Christ looked around the crowd. I suspect he took a measured breathe. Then he answered.

“The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart. The second is like unto it. Love your fellow man.”

Pretty simple. But the next words out of Christ’s mouth creates clarity regarding His Gospel.

Christ continued by saying, “All of the prophets that I have sent… and all of the words they have written should be interpreted using these two commands.”
–Matt 22:36-40

When I look at your logic for giving Joseph Smith, Jr, Brigham Young, John Taylor, or even Jeff Warrens a pass… I simply can’t. Not if I am following Christ. Not if I accept His words.

There is no way that you can love your fellow man (woman, or child) if you are coercing minor children into marriage and sex. There is no way you can say you are honoring God’s greatest commandment if you send a man on a mission and then coerce his wife into sex. And there is no way you can love your fellow man (or your spouse) if you are f**king other people behind your spouses back… in secret.

This is the problem with Mormons. You blindly accept polygamy using the excuse that “God Commanded It.”

My God would never condone polygamy the way your accept it, Caleb. My God says it is wrong, corrupt, and immoral.

You may use the “It was a command” excuse to give Joe a pass. I can’t do that.

And honestly, I believe that I stand in the right. My position is that those actions are immoral. My God would never command this immorality. Your position is that God had nothing better to do during the supposed “restoration of the Gospel” than to command Joseph Smith, Jr to f**k children and other men’s wives in secret… behind Emma’s back.

Again, I cannot accept that. And I think my position is much stronger than yours.


As I said, I brought up polygamy only because Drew mentioned it as an issue. But to be honest, there are hundreds of issues exactly similar to this one.

• I know that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction.
• I now know that Joseph Smith, Jr was a con-artist.
• I know that the Mormon Church is not His.
• And I spent thousands and thousands of hours studying and researching these issues and many, many others.

Jeremy does a pretty decent job of touching on a bunch of these issues in his “Letter to a CES Director.” Jeffery (a pseudonym) does an equally good job in his “Letter to My Wife and Children.”

I have had several conversations with Jeremy. My biggest criticism of the CES Letter is that it is way to short. Jeremy only covers ~35 issues.

The problem is there are hundreds and hundreds of issues. These are issues that the Mormon Church has spun to make them sound faith promoting. But when you read the original history and learn all the facts, the pillars of faith erode.


I was the most believing Mormon you could have found. Then in 2008, two things happened concurrently. These two events shattered my world.

*Football and Polygamy*

For college football fans, 2008 was the pinnacle of awesomeness for football in Utah. BYU, Utah, TCU, and the rest of the Mountain West Conference were playing amazingly well. BYU, Utah, and TCU were ranked. It was a great time to be a college football fan.

College Football talk dominated the water-cooler at my work. My path to disbelief started standing around the water-cooler one beautiful, Fall day. On this particular day, a BYU fan was harassing a SDSU fan over their lousy football team.

The SDSU fan became so frustrated he finally said, “At least I don’t cheer for a team founded by a sexual pervert who screwed (he said the f*** word) 14 year old girls and other men’s wives. And Brigham was just as bad.” He then dropped his proverbial microphone and walked off.

I have never been a fan of BYU. I am a lifelong Utah and Utah State fan. So naturally, I hate BYU. 😉 But I wasn’t about to let some SDSU defame my church and its founders. I spent the next month researching polygamy like I had never done previously.

While the SDSU fan was abrasive, he was correct. Early Mormon polygamy looks a lot like FLDS (Warren Jeffs) polygamy. It is disturbing. It was coercive. It was wrong.

And during the process of confirming that early Church polygamy was really, really bad, I started down a rabbit hole… finding issue after issue that I had never been taught previously. The pillars of my faith were slowly eroding. They were all built on sand.

*Teaching Priesthood*

At the same time, I was teaching in Priesthood. If I remember correctly, it was the John Taylor year. I love God, and I loved the Church. I wanted to be the best teacher possible. So I actually followed the citations for each quote back to the original source document. I figured that if I understood the backstory or context, I could give a better lesson.

With Google Books and the Internet, it didn’t take too long to find the original source documents. Typically, you have to go back 3-6 books to find the original journal, book, or quote. It is doable. And it doesn’t take too much time.

However, time and time again I became disenchanted with what I found. The quotes that exist in our Sunday, correlated manuals… they don’t align with the original source documents. In fact, most of the time they are taken sooooooo far out of context that it is embarrassing. Quotes are changed to make them “faith promoting.” The dirty parts are sanitized. And often, the end result was a quote that was intellectually and academically dishonest (and false).

Here is a link to a great article on this. As you know, the Mormon Church has quietly (secretly) published 13 articles on LDS.org that attempt to answer some of the horrible, faith destroying, early Mormon Church history issues. One such article published on LDS.org deals with the Book of Abraham.


Anyway, this article shows how the Mormon Church “Cherry Picks” quotes and uses them in academically dishonest ways.


*Faith Transition*

I started my journey of studying the Church and its history walking down two parallel paths. I started my journey because of my love for Him and my love for the Church.

I researched out everything to the original source document. I wasn’t studying “anti-Mormon” materials. As I said previously, I would often go back to the original source journal.

But 18 months into my journey… and after countless hours of prayer, scripture study, and study… after several fasts (two fast were THREE DAY fasts)… well… one day I was praying and pondering for answers. I needed His help to resolve my questions. My proverbial shelf was overloaded. How did all the disturbing new facts fit in? I needed His grace and love and understanding. I needed His insights. I needed answers.

It was while pondering and praying that I gave myself permission to ask a new question. For 18 months I had been asking “The Church is true. So how do these ugly new facts fit in? How do I make sense of this all?” But on this particular day, I re-framed the question. I gave my self permission to ask a different question. I sincerely asked Him, “Is the Mormon Church Your Church?”

I was immediately given the most pronounced, simple answer of my life. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not My Church. It is a false church led by false prophets.”

This answer changed my life.

I had started a sincere journey to better serve Him. I wanted to better serve The Church and my fellow Saints. I studied this history for that purpose. But now I no longer knew what to believe. I knew this. He lives. And He loves us. But I also knew that The Mormon Church was not true.

*We Aren’t Lazy; And We Pay a High Cost*

It took me eight months to build up the courage to tell my wife. I was so afraid to share. And that share went as bad as I expected. My wife is now my EX-wife. She divorced me–in very large part–because I no longer believed in Mormonism. I didn’t change much as a person. Even as a non-believer, I helped her get the kids to church. I didn’t change as a person. I still lived my life very conservatively. But that wasn’t enough. I didn’t believe. The “Priesthood was dead” in me. She wanted out. She divorced me.

*My Final Thoughts*

For all the good that the people in the Mormon Church do, the institution itself causes much harm. For those that have been harmed… for those that have had families torn apart… for those that have had relationships destroyed… for all of those tired of the misogyny and institutional racism (yes, it does exist)… for those who have watched loved ones commit suicide because they are LGTB… for those who want to see a focus on Love, Hope, Grace… “His Gospel”… For all of us who can now see the Mormon Church for what it is… for many of those people they simply want the truth exposed. They want to help people see the Mormon Church for what it really is.

The Mormon Church isn’t “God’s One and Only True Church.” It is simply another flavor of Protestantism. And it is far from the healthiest version of it.

May God Bless you and yours, Caleb. May God Bless the Leaders of the Mormon Church with his love, inspirations, and grace. And may they truly begin to pass on this love and grace. Thanks for letting me share. I hope you can better understand why people who leave the Mormon Church do what they do. It isn’t out of malice. It is done out of love.

Joe Christensen

I hope you can better understand and respect others opinions. Everybody stays in/leaves the church for different reasons. Your referring to all those who have left as a collective “we” may very well be offensive as well. I am no longer apart of the church but I respect both Drew and Calebs opinions. I would hope someone who is open minded enough to study about the church and leave it would also be respectful of others opinions.
Drew didn’t write this article to ruffle feathers and upset you. It was written because it was probably something he felt strongly about. And he is entitled to just that.
Please don’t assume “we” all believe as you do because drew is not assuming that you believe as he does.


You are absolutely correct. Every person’s story and journey is different. Even my story continues to evolve. When I use the collective “we,” it isn’t to paint you inside of my box. Rather, it is try to communicate that people who leave the Mormon Church have very specific and thoughtful reasons for exiting.

I felt as though Caleb was trying to paint us in this box of not being “faithful” enough… or being “lazy.” More than anything, I was trying to communicate that our journeys are far more detailed, thoughtful, and complicated than that.


Glad to hear that you are still active in the Church, Drew, and at least pondering showing more compassion to others than your Father did as Bishop.
Everyone has Free Agency, of course, and if someone falls away, that is on them. But if we are cruel or dishonest with someone over whom we have stewardship, that is our fault and sin. We are each accountable for our own actions.
There are many reasons why people the Church, and even more that they tell themselves. It does not really matter what the why is. What matters is treating everyone with love and respect, and being ready to welcome any back that make that difficult journey.
One more word of advice. Don’t get too caught up in spinning your wheels on what some may think are unanswered questions, or inconsistencies. There are far more incorrect than correct versions of Church History out there. And anyone who has to resort to expletives to make their case, obviously does not have a very good one. Getting sealed to Joseph Smith by proxy, while he was alive and in jail, without his permission, for example, hardly qualifies as the Prophet stealing other men’s wives, or committing adultery. And yet this case, involving my own family, is one of the most commonly cited as, “proof,” of the Prophet’s wrongdoing. The truth is inconvenient, in this case, and the lies are pervasive.
Stay strong. And remember that people on the other side are rooting for you, and helping you.

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