Dear LDS Friends and Family,I am choosing to tell you that I am not a Latter Day Saint. Although some of you already know this, most of you don't and I imagine it is a little bit of a shock. I am writing this letter as an apology for not being real with you for the last four years and also to reach out to you to let you know that I would really like to maintain a real, authentic friendship with you, however that looks.
1. At this moment, I do not support the LDS Church organization and where it is going. I know that most of you do. That is OK. I think the Church does many wonderful things but it is not something that I want to tie my allegiance to and this is why: In my mind, it is totally possible for a church to start out on the right path and fall away. It has happened in the past. The church restored by God through Moses fell into apostasy and its leaders condemned Christ as a heretic several hundred years later. The church restored through Jesus fell into apostasy and turned into the Catholic church. Why couldn't the LDS Church experience the same thing? You may believe what Joseph F. Smith taught, "If [the President of the Church] should become unfaithful, God would remove him out of his place. I testify in the name of Israel’s God that He will not suffer the head of the Church, him whom He has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His Laws and apostatize; the moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. Why? Because to suffer a wicked man to occupy that position, would be to allow, as it were, the fountain to become corrupted, which is something He will never permit." However, it seems to me that it is circular reasoning to assume that the President of the Church could never apostatize simply because the President of the Church said that such a thing could never happen. In addition to that, that idea is defied by history. The fact that Moses was a prophet does not make Caiaphas a prophet. The fact that Jesus was the Son of God and his 12 apostles were prophets, seers, and revelators does not make the current Pope and Cardinals prophets, seers, and revelators. In the same vein of reasoning, I would argue that just because Joseph Smith was a prophet of God does not necessarily mean Brigham Young, John Taylor and all the rest of the presidents down to Thomas S. Monson are prophets. Does that mean they are evil? No, of course not. Their fruits should determine that. However, I think it is very dangerous to assume they cannot fall when they are merely humans and God has never stopped a human from falling in the past and has often let them pull a lot of people down with them because those people chose to follow them. For that reason, I do not want to tie my allegiance to an organization. If you choose to do so, that is your prerogative.
2. I am not leaving the Church because I want to live a life of sin "eating, drinking, and making merry". I am leaving because it feels empty to me and I have found something that is more filling to me. A little over four years ago, my parents introduced me to the idea that the opportunity to "see my face and know that I am"(D&C 93:1) might be more important than following a church and its leadership. I was hopping mad at them for suggesting such an idea. After I got over the shock of realizing that the checklist sold to me my whole life might not be worth a penny compared to a relationship with God, I realized that I am just not too interested in building a spiritual resume to show God how awesome I am. I am more interested in seeing how awesome He is and how He sees me, His Creation. Through His love and grace I have experienced a closer relationship with Him than I ever experienced while I was in the Church. Right now, I am content to continue building that relationship with Him without the Church. I know that most of you feel that a relationship with God is facilitated and increased by membership in the Church and that is OK. I don't feel that way and that is OK too.
3. I want to be friends with you, but I want to be real friends with you. I don't want to have to pretend that I am super excited for General Conference. When you assume I want to marry a returned missionary in the temple, I want to be able to say, "Actually that isn't what I want." instead of thinking, "Oh, if they only knew..." I want to be able to worship on Sunday the way I feel happiest worshiping without the fear of becoming a "to reactivate" case because I don't want to go to church. And I don't want you to feel awkward talking to me about religion. If a general authority quote really meant a lot to you, I want to hear it and how it made a difference in your life. I want to be able to discuss ideas with you and both of us feel uplifted by the exchange. I want to "claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of [my] own conscience and allow [you] the same privilege." The whole reason I am writing this is because I want our friendship to be open and honest and REAL. Now that you know this about me, I would rather not be treated like a "missionary case" but if that is what is real for you, then that is OK. I would love for you to think of me when someone asks you to think of someone that has positively influenced your life, but if you think of me when your bishop challenges you to think of someone you could invite to church, then I will be OK with that too. I still love you either way and I will choose to take your "reactivation" attempts as an act of love.
Lastly, I would like to say that I am a Mormon, and I am proud of it! I believe that God speaks to men on Earth! I find it very likely that the Book of Mormon is inspired scripture and Joseph Smith restored the Gospel that Jesus taught. I know that Jesus Christ loves me and I know He suffered the Atonement. I believe that sex should be saved for marriage and parents should be responsible for their children. I believe that people should love God and care for their neighbor (without government assistance). I believe that being financially responsible and living below your means is important and liberating. I love large families, powdered milk, primary songs, funeral potatoes, and making the date-asking a bigger event than the date and all the other wonderfully quirky things that Mormons do. I love reading missionary letters and hearing about that spiritual RM you are dating. Most of all, I am thankful for the role that the Church has played in making me who I am today. I can honestly say I don't know where I would be if I had been raised outside the Church, and I am grateful for what I have learned there. My hat is off to all the good it does, and I wish good riddance to all the ungodly manipulation and deceit happening within it. For now, I am bidding it farewell, and that is OK.
Friends, I love you and I am grateful for your respect and interest in me...as evidenced by reading this far. I am sorry that it took me four years to trust you enough to share this part of me. I'm sorry I was not honest with you and I am sorry that I lost time I could have spent connecting with you because I believed you wouldn't find value in a relationship with me if you knew I didn't believe the same way that you do. Some of you might agree with my views and I think it is safe to say that most of you will not. And that is OK. I am not sorry for the way I believe because I know that it works for me. I am grateful that you let me share this part of me with you. May this be the beginning of a more honest and authentic friendship for the both of us.
I love you!
Jaylee - Age 21