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Letters From People “Coming Out”
The following are actual letters from people who wanted to announce their change in beliefs. They are used by permission of the authors.
Merlin J.A. Salisbury
I know this isn’t going to come as a shocking surprise to many of you but I no longer believe in the Mormon church.
To my LDS friends, please don’t unfriend me till you’ve read through the whole thing and do me a favor and drop me a line before you leave. Give me the courtesy of allowing me to say goodbye. I still love and respect you and want you to be happy.
Please don’t be sad for me, because I’m definitely and noticeably happier and way more at peace without it than I ever was within it. I had way more questions than the church had answers and many of the answers I did get gave me a confused stupor of thought, and far from the peaceful comfortable feelings I was promised. I decided to not let them define my life for me any more; I made a conscious decision to sacrifice an unknown afterlife for this known mortality. And I believe that an eternal consequence for a temporal decision is inherently unjust.
I don’t know what happens to me after I die, but I do know what happens to everyone else: the world keeps spinning and everyone goes on with their lives. Life and civilization goes on. Each other are all we have. I choose to live on this world, for this life, and not some unseen afterlife.
I still believe there is no better answer to the question “what’s the meaning of life?” than “have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
I left the church in December of 2011. For the record it was right after I got fired from the Walnut in Philadelphia. And it’s been hard keeping this to myself and a select few others for so long, but I want my friends to know the truth.
Moving to Philadelphia was simultaneously the worst and the best thing I’ve ever done. Getting fired (again) was the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and led to the hardest, lowest, and and worst I’ve ever felt in my life.
I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. Much of it because of what I went through leading up to and after I left the church (if you want the whole 24 page treatise I’m happy to share it with you), I begged and pleaded and sacrificed and repented and covenanted with God to bring me happiness, but none ever came. The way many people (like Alma) talk about their conversion to Jesus, I can use the same language for my exit: “And now, for thirty years in the church was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. And now, behold, when I gave up on church I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” My depression isn’t going anywhere, because it’s a mental illness not a tool of the devil, or god. But I do know that happiness comes from finding out what you want for yourself and not let it be determined by corporate organization.
But since I’ve been here in Philly, other than losing my faith, I’ve found a job I love that has provided me with benefits, economic stability, and future security, with people who look out for me, in a town that constantly amazes me.
Depression rates in Utah are through the roof, and I wish all of them would consider the possibility that what they are doing isn’t working. You don’t need an invisible character to dictate how to gain happiness. It’s already within yourself.
If the church brings you happiness, I support you. If Heavenly Father has answered every one of your prayers, has never contradicted himself, and only ever helped you and never let you down, I’m glad, and you should probably stay. Keep doing what you’re doing, and do what makes you happy. I hope you would want the same for me and everyone else. Allow everyone their own pursuit of happiness, and if you can, leave positive legacy on this earth
But If you think it’s harder than it should be, if things in the church don’t make sense, if it causes you more misery than happiness: I testify to you that there is joy to be found away from the church. If your burden has been neither easy nor light, there is freedom and peace in removing yourself from all yokes. I’m here for you, and I’m happy to talk to you about how the church does not have a monopoly on happiness. There are billions of people in the world, and we aren’t all miserable. I’m happier out of the church, and you can be too.
I love all of you guys, and want you to be happy.
Leaving the church was the best thing I have ever done.
I have been an exmormon for five and a half years
And I love this town.
Happy Independence Day