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  • (piano music)

  • - I grew up Mormon.

  • (speaks foreign language)

  • I was Mormon most of my life, up until a few years ago.

  • - Hi.

  • - I then left the Mormon Church, and that is a whole story

  • that I want to talk about today with all of you.

  • My purpose in doing this is to share my perspective

  • so that anyone who is in a situation like I was

  • a couple of years ago, who is questioning and wondering

  • can have another perspective to lean on.

  • I'm not looking to get into debates

  • or to talk about the history or the theology of the church.

  • I'll do that in future videos.

  • Today, all I want to do is tell you the story

  • of how and why I left the Mormon Church.

  • 23rd of May, 2000, 2009.

  • What are we even doing out here, man?

  • I grew up Mormon.

  • Both my parents were Mormon or LDS, Latter-day Saints.

  • I grew up going to Mormon youth camp.

  • I then eventually served a two-year mission

  • in Tijuana, Mexico, where for two years, I went around

  • and spoke to people in Spanish about the church

  • and learned a lot, learned to speak Spanish fluently.

  • (man speaks foreign language)

  • - [Man] How you feel?

  • (speaks foreign language)

  • (man laughs)

  • (speaks Spanish)

  • I then went to the Mormon university

  • called Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah,

  • where I graduated.

  • I went through all Mormon rituals in the church and temple.

  • I worked in the temple as a volunteer for a time.

  • I was very, very Mormon, and I believed it.

  • I believed deeply in the unique doctrine

  • of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

  • which is a Christian organization

  • unlike any other Christian organization in its doctrine.

  • (heartfelt music)

  • The story of how I decided to leave this

  • really begins with the birth of my son.

  • Isabelle, who also grew up Mormon,

  • and I got married in the temple,

  • which is a huge Mormon ritual.

  • It's a huge part of being in the church.

  • We got married in the temple.

  • We went back to BYU together,

  • and a few weeks before we graduated from BYU,

  • we had a baby, or Ize had a baby.

  • I didn't have a baby.

  • She had a baby.

  • Then we took finals and graduated, like,

  • literally two weeks later.

  • Here we are literally in our cap and gown

  • with Henry, who is, like, two weeks old.

  • After we graduated, we moved out to Washington, DC,

  • and that's when my wheels really started to turn.

  • I started to think, you know, I have a child now.

  • I have to decide how I raise this child

  • and what I teach him about the world.

  • (rolls tongue)

  • Da, da, da, da, da.

  • I think having Henry really made me wonder

  • and think about how I should teach him about the world.

  • I'd grown up with this firm conviction of the LDS doctrine

  • and its beliefs about the world,

  • which are very specific and very peculiar.

  • And I really started to question,

  • is this what I want to teach my son?

  • And the answer initially was yes.

  • I want to teach him everything that I know about this faith

  • because I really believed it.

  • So, we're moving out to Washington, DC,

  • and I realized that if I'm gonna teach this to my son,

  • I need to double down on my faith.

  • I need to go deeper than I ever have

  • and really, really establish a strong foundation

  • and conviction around this doctrine.

  • I had one, but I knew it needed to be stronger

  • if I was gonna teach my son this.

  • One of the things I loved about Mormon doctrine at the time

  • was that there was always a push to ask God if it was true.

  • Not to trust any people or any organization,

  • but to, like, get on your knees and say, God, is this true?

  • Is this church actually real?

  • Is all of the things that they say actually the real deal?

  • I had kind of taken advantage of that promise before,

  • but never really.

  • I'd always been in a setting of pressure,

  • whether it was my home as a kid or my mission or BYU.

  • In other words, there was always an incentive to believe.

  • So I'd never really been in a situation

  • where I could truly ask this question

  • and not feel like there was some price to pay

  • if I decided I didn't believe.

  • Being in Washington DC with my child out on my own

  • in the workforce was my opportunity,

  • so I spent an entire year

  • reading the "Book of Mormon", going to church.

  • I had a responsibility at church

  • that I was putting a lot of work into,

  • and praying every morning and every night

  • for some sort of conviction.

  • I said, I am more earnest and sincere

  • than I've ever been about this.

  • I'm willing to listen to any answer.

  • I just need an answer.

  • I spent a year doing this.

  • A year.

  • That's a long time.

  • And then I remember this day,

  • I was biking into Washington, DC,

  • on a sunny, like, spring day,

  • and it just hit me in some really strong way

  • that no, this isn't working.

  • I've put in the years of asking

  • and the effort towards (sighs) making this work,

  • and it wasn't working.

  • This isn't true for me.

  • And like a switch, it just so much came out of me,

  • and I quickly decided that I was done.

  • I don't think it was all at once.

  • I think I had been slowly moving in this direction

  • for a long time, but in a moment of clarity,

  • it clicked for me in a very satisfying and, like,

  • very true way.

  • So Iz, who, Ize, Isabelle,

  • whatever you want to call her, my wife,

  • it didn't click for her.

  • She was not on this journey that I was on.

  • And I came back and I told her.

  • I said, I think I am done being Mormon.

  • And I had always been the sort

  • of more devout, convicted Mormon.

  • And she was just like, "What?

  • "Like, you just, like, have decided

  • "to be out of this church?" And she full on said, like,

  • "This is gonna end our marriage.

  • "Like, you can't just leave the church."

  • And I just told her.

  • I said, "This is where I stand and this is what I feel,"

  • and I felt very strongly about it.

  • Luckily, soon enough, Ize was on her own path

  • of reconciling her thoughts about the church,

  • her qualms with the church,

  • and soon she would join me in this path

  • towards leaving the church.

  • Now, I call it a path because that's exactly what it is.

  • Leaving any Orthodox religion is not easy.

  • There are layers and layers of psychological

  • and cultural conditioning that you don't even realize

  • is there until you start to peel it back.

  • So, even though we started to leave the church,

  • we were still going to church every Sunday,

  • which I don't really understand in retrospect.

  • All I can say is that, like, we were just,

  • that's what we did every Sunday.

  • We went to church,

  • and there was some guilt if we didn't go to church,

  • and so we went to church.

  • But we slowly started to feel an emptiness towards it,

  • and over the course of six months,

  • we finally decided to stop going to church.

  • My behavior didn't change all of a sudden.

  • Like, I didn't leave the church

  • so I could start drinking alcohol or coffee or smoking.

  • Like, that was not a part of the agenda for me.

  • I kind of just carried on exactly how I'd always been,

  • except for now I looked around in the world

  • and I didn't have a doctrinal theological framework

  • to understand it, which was at once exhilarating

  • and horrifying at the same time.

  • My existential view had been so neatly packaged