Ex-Mormon Speaks Out – Why He Left the Church

Dec 16, 2023 890K Views 6.8K Comments

Many people have left the Mormon church in recent years. Today we meet up with an ex-Mormon who explains to us why this is happening.

This is the last video in our Mormon (LDS) series. Check out our Mormon playlist where I have:
-3 videos about those in the church
-2 videos about the fundamentalist Mormons (to show the difference between them and the non- fundamentalists).
-1 video about someone who’s left the Mormon church.

Mormon Playlist on YouTube

Thanks for joining me on this journey! We have 2 more videos for you to finish off 2023.

► Restaurant in the video: Joe’s Farm Grill

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

MUSIC USED IN THE VIDEO 🎵
► Headlund – Heart’s Reprise

– [Peter] Did you ever
come to this temple?
– [Todd] Yeah, this was, quote-unquote,
“My temple,” growing up.
– [Peter] So what was it like
growing up in the church?
– It was wonderful.
I grew up in a congregation,
what we call a ward,
that was super tight-knit.
Back then, in Mesa, there was tons of LDS
and our congregation was so concentrated
where it only consisted of
four residential streets.
So basically, almost every single home
in that neighborhood was LDS.
When you’re eight years old,
the church influences you to
decide to become a member,
but as an adult, an eight-year-old
doesn’t have the maturity
to make such a decision,
nor do you realize what
kinda decision you’re making.
A lot of it is, is you’re
seeing your older siblings,
or your friends who are
members in your ward,
all get baptized.
And so you’re like, “That
sounds cool, I wanna do that.”
And then, with Mormonism,
there’s always a progression,
there’s always the next thing.
So the church gives you
roles early on in life,
especially for boys.
When I was young, the expectation
was to go on a mission
when you’re 19 years old,
you spend two years doing that.
Roadmap after that is,
then you get married.
And this is the place you get married
is a temple.
What the church does is it
creates a roadmap for you.
It’s all planned out, so.
– So you did all those steps?
– Did all those steps.
– You did your mission?
– Yep.
– You came back, got married.
– Got married, so the word that we,
I can’t help but say, I say
the word, “We,” sometimes,
but I served in Taiwan,
so I lived in Taiwan for
two years, learned Chinese.
– Oh wow, cool.
– Lots of challenges,
but I loved the experience.
And few years after that,
it’s these steps right here,
perfect timing in our walk here.
– [Peter] (laughing) Yeah.
– Where this is the
entrance to the temple.
Traditionally, at this temple is,
family gathers right here.
And so when the ceremony’s done,
the bride and groom comes
out those gold doors,
and it’s a big celebration.
Doing these things leads to happiness,
and the goal of it all is to
return to our Father in heaven,
in the celestial kingdom,
which is another way in saying
the top level of heaven.
You must do all those things,
from being baptized,
doing the rituals in the temple,
then being married in the temple,
and living a good, clean life,
and doing all the things,
lots of work your entire life.
And your hope is that you qualify
to dwell with your
Father in heaven, or God.
I know that couple. (laughing)
Funny.
In Mormonism, and I say
that in a loving way,
everyone knows everyone.
It’s been four years
since we left the church.
Time heals wounds.
And so it used to be very
raw and just painful.
I wanna emphasize that,
it’s a painful experience
leaving what looks like a happy, joyful,
very fulfilling life.
– And I wanted to get the left LDS story,
because a lot of people
reached out to me, a lot.
And they said, “Hey, look, if
you’re gonna do an LDS series,
a lot of people have left,
you really need to get that perspective.”
So fair enough, I wanna
get that perspective.
But I’ve also noticed,
there’s no one story
for left LDS.
– Yes, absolutely.
– I’ve heard everything
from, “Burn it all down,”
to, “Yeah, I left and I still hang out
with all my Mormon friends and family,
and everything’s cool.”
I mean, the two extremes.
– And everything in between.
– [Peter] And everything in between.
– Right.
I can’t emphasize this enough,
I was 100% in it,
from birth until four-plus years ago.
When you feel that you
have lost something,
it’s devastating and it’s painful.
And all the emotions are valid.
Anger, resentment, sadness,
And for those who left
the church who feel that,
I respect it.
Oftentimes, you lose friend associations.
Oftentimes, your family
will treat you differently.
And I don’t think Mormons
do it overtly or on purpose,
but it’s kinda how they’ve
been indoctrinated.
The church leaders pin us as others,
like President Nelson,
I think it was almost a year
ago in general conference,
called people like me, a lazy learner.
That’s not very nice, right?
And then just recently in conference,
the most recent conference,
he likened a person like myself as,
“Do not take advice from
those who don’t believe.”
The people who leave,
they quickly realize
that the love that they
had from their parents
or their siblings was conditional.
The condition of love and being family
was being a full, worthy,
prosperous member of the church.
And unfortunately, some families
feel that they lost their
son or daughter forever,
because that’s what the doctrine teaches.
And so there’s this irreparable thing
where they lost you.
And the church will kinda emphasize that,
like, “You need to move on,
and we have pity for those who leave.”
And again, there’s gonna be some members
that will be upset with me saying that,
but that’s the truth,
and that’s from the people
that I’ve associated with who left,
it’s happened to some of them.
Again, not all, but to some of them.
And these criticisms
that are real and true,
that members today hear,
they take personal offense to it.
They think it’s a personal attack on them.
And this message that we
have is to the system,
to the church, to the top leaders.
(blinker ticking)
This is my high school, this is Mesa High.
This structure here,
I’ve literally never seen
before, it’s brand new.
So there are constant improvements.
Majority of my friendships were LDS kids.
I had many that weren’t,
but that’s just kinda how you’re taught.
You stay with those who
have the same values.
This is the seminary building.
So most schools in Arizona and Utah,
Idaho, I’m guessing, for sure,
one hour a day, LDS students
would cross the street
and receive spiritual
education or instruction.
– During the school day?
– During the school day.
– The school was okay with that?
– Yeah, they called it release time.
You sign a little waiver
that you can leave
campus to go to seminary.
– So obviously by design,
the church set this up
as close as they could to the school.
– Yeah, in smaller towns
where there’s not that
many high school kids,
the trade off is kids will go
to a local church house that’s nearby,
or even go to a member’s home
if it’s a really small group.
There is an expectation that
you graduate from seminary.
And so that’s the expectation
of a young LDS person,
you go to class, they have tests,
but I thought they were easy,
’cause you know the material really.
And you do all the things
and you go to a graduation ceremony
and you get a certificate.
And here’s the thing,
everything that I’m talking about,
from the temple work,
to going to seminary,
is by design.
The church’s emphasis
on kids is so important
that from birth ’til they become adults,
they want them to stay.
And I’m gonna use this word,
but it’s indoctrinate,
indoctrinate the kids at a young age,
all the way through high school,
so that they will be members for life.
And it’s a important
mission of the church,
because there’s a lot of members leaving.
And this is the next generation,
and they have to pass that
baton to them, or to somebody,
so they’re putting all
their eggs in that basket.
(upbeat music)
Working really hard to keep ’em in.
(upbeat music continues)
– [Peter] These are jumping cactus?
– Yeah, that one is, I believe.
People who are not from Arizona,
if they go hiking and they just slip
and they run against it,
they’ll break off
and that section will stick on your arm,
and it ruined your day,
you know what I mean?
(both laughing)
– Wow, what a place.
– So.
– So, Todd, the time has finally come,
the big question.
(Todd laughing)
Why’d you leave?
Why does one leave at the age of,
say, 42, 43 is when you left?
– Yep, about that.
So I think everyone’s
different in their journey,
but for me, it came
out to be truth claims.
So growing up, you’re
taught a certain narrative
of how church history, how it was.
And I learned later in life
that the story was very, very different,
and then, with that, what
became very problematic
with how things really were.
How the church came to be,
and it’s starting with Joseph Smith
and his, “First vision,”
as the church calls it,
where he was visited by God, the Father,
and Son, Jesus Christ.
We were told a certain
story or narrative of that,
but in reality, it was very different.
And then things like the Book of Mormon,
how the Book of Mormon came to be.
The church taught that an
ancient prophet, name Moroni,
buried the plates in Upstate New York,
near where Joseph Smith was raised.
Book of Mormon stories occurred
somewhere in South America
or Central America.
And he traveled thousands of miles
with super heavy plates
to New York, there’s that.
And then the way that the
Book of Mormon was translated
was very interesting.
We were told as members
that he was given what’s
called a Urim and Thummim.
And the way that it was
depicted in church art
was comparing ’em to
spectacles or glasses.
But the reality was, or is,
that he, Joseph Smith,
used a rock in a hat to
translate the Book of Mormon.
So literally he would
put a stone in a hat,
like a Abraham Lincoln-type hat,
and stick his head in the hat,
and words would appear on the stone
of what the golden plates would say.
Oftentimes, the plates
weren’t even in the room
where Joseph and his
scribe was translating.
So then he asked the question,
“Well, why were the plates
even needed after all,
if he actually didn’t use them?”
So there’s lots of
different problematic things
about how that Book of
Mormon was translated.
Then you ask the question,
“Well, where are those plates today?
Can we examine them?”
But the story is that when
Joseph Smith was done,
the angel took them
back to heaven, I guess.
So we don’t have a way
to validate or verify.
– That would’ve been
in like 1840 something?
– (sighing) I used to know this,
but I’ve been out for four years,
but I think this was in the 1820s.
I think the Book of Mormon
came out prior to the
church being established,
which was in 1830.
So in the late 1820s
is when the Book of Mormon was published.
To kinda put context is like,
I was going through, life was hard for me,
lots of stress in life,
with having a family and work
and church responsibilities,
just stressed really greatly.
A lot of stress.
And so when you find out, like for me,
there was more first vision stories,
or how it came to be,
which doesn’t jive with
the church’s story,
it struck me, like, “What?”
And so you’re kinda shocked,
and so you’re like, “I’m believing,
so I’m gonna dig deeper
and figure this out,
resolve my concerns.”
And then when that happens is,
you’re going down a
rabbit hole, as we say.
You think you resolve one thing,
but you find another and another,
another issue, another issue.
And so you’re just neck deep in just mess
of things that are true,
but you were never taught as a member.
– So what’s going through
your head at this time,
the further you go into that rabbit hole?
– Well, the context is like,
“I’ve been a member my entire life,
and I put my blood, sweat
and tears into this,
and it has to be true,
it better be true.”
And you’re learning these things,
and in the back of your
mind, you’re thinking,
“Dude, is it really true?”
You’re questioning and
doubting like crazy,
your mind’s going in overdrive.
So it was crazy.
And I didn’t tell my wife,
I was scared to tell her,
because when you’re a member,
and if a spouse leaves,
that can break apart your family,
because traditionally, in some cases,
a wife, or a spouse,
one spouse is loyal and they’ll leave you.
And then there’s the dynamic where,
in order to get to heaven,
you have to be there with your spouse
that you’re sealed to in the temple.
So it’s all interrelated
and just a complicated web
of requirements and work.
And when you lose your testimony
and you have this
integrity within yourself,
like, “I can’t be a part of
something that isn’t true,”
you break, you fall apart, emotionally.
That’s what happened to me.
– How long is this period lasting for?
When you start going into the rabbit hole,
you’re thinking to yourself,
“Things don’t add up exactly,”
you’re going deeper,
you’re having this stress
and this pressure of everything
that you’ve ever thought in the teachings,
now you’re not believing.
– So I think this started
for me in like 2015,
the doubts.
And a culminating moment for me was,
again, the foundation of my testimony
was in the reality of this church.
“I’m a part of the church
because it is true that
these things happened,
that Joseph Smith is and
was a prophet of God.
The Book of Mormon is the word of God.”
So in 2016, with my employer,
I went on a business trip to Ohio.
Town called Kirtland, Ohio,
is a famous church history site.
That’s where the very first
Mormon temple was built.
There is the story where God, the Father,
and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph
and his close associate, Oliver Cowdery.
And they, in a sense,
had their prayers answered and confirmed.
So I thought, since Joseph
Smith and Oliver Cowdery
received a physical
manifestation of God, the Father,
and Jesus Christ appearing
to them in this temple,
I at least, in 2016,
was praying for and hoping
for a spiritual manifestation,
something that would tell my soul
that all that I’ve come to believe,
as a young boy ’til then, is true.
I wanted to get my testimony back,
and where better place
than the Kirtland Temple,
the very first temple in
the modern dispensation.
And I didn’t get anything,
no confirmation whatsoever.
But that’s the thing is like,
that’s what you’re trained to do.
You pray for answers and
the spirit will tell you,
and I didn’t get it.
At the same time,
I’m doing all these things,
and I tell my wife, Sarah,
that, “I’m just gonna go
to church history site,
it’ll be fun.
I’m here in Ohio, I can’t not do this,”
but I’m just reeling inside,
this is why I’m going.
Fast-forward to 2019,
we move into a new ward.
Basically, in that ward,
an older man, he was alleged
to be a sexual predator,
it was on the news.
And it was kinda the straw
that broke the camel’s back,
so to speak, for me.
I felt, at that point,
I can come true to my wife of my concerns
about the truthfulness of the church,
but also these problematic
issues of what’s happening,
right then, in 2019.
We witnessed firsthand how
the church, at a local level,
tried to sweep this under the rug.
And the idea where, “If
this really happened
back in the early ’80s, of this event,
how come, as members,
we were never told this,
how come does this man
have callings in the ward
where he was, on a small period of time,
was teaching Sunday School
to 12-to-14-year-olds?”
which my son was in that
class at least once,
’cause he was like a substitute
teacher, if you will,
for a Sunday.
That was the cascading event
where Sarah and I came together,
she knew my concerns,
I shared those concerns,
she researched, and we, as a couple,
decided to speak out
about what was happening,
that that was totally unacceptable
of the behavior of the church.
And our local leaders, I feel,
was just doing what the top
leaders in church headquarters
were having them to do.
Just cover up, not talk about,
have it quietly disappear
like it never happened.
As a member of the church,
you do not speak badly against the church.
My wife and I, Sarah, were outspoken.
We even were part of a
initiative called Thrive,
where we invited people
who were going through some
troubles with the church,
like faith crises and so forth.
And we would have monthly
meetings at our house
just to offer love and support.
Our local leader, I think,
in his mind, had enough,
where he threatened excommunication,
’cause in his mind,
it’s his responsibility
to defend the church,
and what we were doing was
speaking bad against the church.
Excommunication is a very barbaric ritual,
where you basically,
like you’re going to court in real life
and you go to this boardroom-type room,
where 15 men sit in front of you,
and it’s just a barbaric
and ugly practice.
So instead of that, we, as a family,
decided to take our power back and resign.
And with all this,
I quickly realized that, in my opinion,
there is bigger issues within the church.
There’s harm against young people,
people who identify as LBGTQ,
there’s just allegations
and issues of sexual assault
that are happening in the church.
So the church is not a
safe place, unfortunately.
– Can I throw something out there?
And I want to get your
thoughts on this one.
Whenever you put millions
of humans together,
you’re gonna get the sexual predator,
you’re gonna get the anti-LGBQ,
you’re gonna get all types.
How is it different than
humanity outta the church,
in that sense?
– I would say, because the church
claims to be the one
true church on the earth
and who is led by God,
this is God’s church,
led by a prophet,
who we are taught that will
not lead his people astray,
that we’re taught that local
leaders are called of God,
God oversees everything within his church,
so the question you gotta ask yourself is,
if these things are
happening under God’s watch,
and in some cases,
these allegations are behind closed doors
of bishops or other church leaders,
how many times should that
happen in God’s true church?
The answer is zero,
it should happen zero times,
but that’s not the case.
Again, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints,
by their own admission,
have set the bar to the highest.
They are the one and only true church.
And in my view, a loving God,
who oversees this close,
would never allow such harm
upon some of his children,
’cause we’re all God’s children.
I could no longer walk away,
I could no longer look away,
and I can’t be a part of the organization.
– Okay, most Mormons
don’t believe in any of
that stuff, obviously,
being sexual predators, breaking the law.
That’s the problem with some
of these stories, right?
Everything can get lumped up
into one person or one group.
– True.
– Your beef is the fact that the hierarchy
is willing to cover things?
– Yeah, my beef is the top leadership,
it’s not your local member.
And the local leaders are, in essence,
trained, taught and conditioned
to do the bidding of the
top leadership in Salt Lake.
– [Peter] So you think
the top leadership now
is fundamentally corrupt?
– Yes.
– Or they’ve gone off
the rails a bit or?
– Absolutely, I mean, unfortunately,
it’s their financial decisions,
the way that they cover up
the bad things that happen,
because, in their view,
what’s paramount is to protect
the image of the church,
that’s the most important thing.
So they will sweep away
and hush the bad things
that are continuing to
occur in the church.
– Is it fair to say,
if I’m gonna make a comparison with that,
any big institution, organization,
usually has a hard time apologizing.
An example would be the
US government, right?
Most people would think
our invasion of Iraq
was probably a bad idea.
And our administration, any of our leaders
have never apologized for that to anyone,
never said, “Hey, we got this wrong.
We led you guys into something
we shouldn’t have gone into,”
is there that at play in the church?
I mean, I’m just trying to,
I’ve never been in it,
I’ve never been under this hierarchy,
so I’m not familiar with it.
Is that a way to compare it?
– I would just say that,
I mean, for example, Dallin H Oaks,
who’s a part of the First Presidency,
he was on record saying years ago that,
as a practice, the church
does not apologize.
And it’s, in my view, hypocritical,
’cause on one hand,
you’re teaching members to,
when you do wrong, you forsake your sin,
you repent, you make restitution,
you strive to do better,
and you admit your
problems and grow from it.
But you can argue that
you’re not seeing it
from the top leadership.
Mistakes are made, but they
never take ownership of it.
The church does a great
job of telling members
what resources to use for
material, for learning.
Like the church history aspect,
they do a good job to
sanitize or whitewash
the ugly parts of it in the handbooks.
And we’re also warned
that we need, as members,
to stick to the material that we produce,
that the material that we
don’t produce is anti-Mormon,
and stay away from it,
that is dangerous.
That’s why a lot of
members are just insulated,
they don’t realize all the things
that we’ve been talking about here,
even with today’s issues
of what’s going on.
– Okay, but in every big religion,
there have been all sorts of scandals,
wars have been fought over religion,
there’s been all these wrongdoings,
but many people in the religion,
oh yeah, let’s check that out,
the faith is good for them.
It’s that community,
it’s the sharing of
should be decent values,
like the 10 Commandments, right?
– That’s the paradox.
I agree that for many members,
it provides peace and comfort.
They love the roadmap,
they love the built-in
community that it offers,
they love the assurity
of what’s gonna happen,
they love that.
And I think some members feel that,
if that’s taken away from them,
it won’t be a very
pleasant life without it.
– [Peter] And is it?
You know.
– I realize that it is.
Now, like every human,
you have your good days and your bad,
and it’s not roses and
daffodils every day.
But it’s a freeing thing
to know that, now looking
from the outside in,
because again, I used to be that person,
I can’t emphasize that enough,
that I’ve come closer to nature.
This is like my God, if you will.
I love humanity more and more.
I love people who walk a
different path than me,
who, in my previous life,
I didn’t learn about or see.
And it’s nice, financially,
not to pay 10%.
(Peter laughing)
Because economy
sucks right now,
and taking 10% of your gross
is a lot for a lot of families.
– For those that don’t the 10% tithing,
every member must pay,
you make $100,000, you need to pay 10,
or is it after you pay your
federal, state income tax,
then you pay 10?
– Well, I was raised that
you pay on your gross.
I mean, I kinda believe
like, the more you pay,
my agreement is, if you’re a millionaire,
and you pay 10%, $100,000,
that doesn’t hurt.
When you’re a family of six
and your income is 40,000,
and you pay 10%, that
really hurts, really hurts.
Rent, food, clothing, basic medical needs.
You know how much money the
church is garnering right now.
Again, no one knows for sure
because they don’t share,
but it’s north of a $100 billion.
– In some investment fund or something?
– Yeah, it’s called Ensign Peak Advisors,
and it’s the investment arm of the church.
And my understanding is,
because the church is nonprofit,
they don’t pay taxes on their gains.
And it’s just the unbelievable
return on investment
that one can get.
– And that’s just for future temples
and whatever else the church
needs to spend money on?
– I think the church’s argument is,
these are rough numbers,
I believe the estimates are
somewhere around seven billion
that the church gains
each year from tithing,
their liabilities or obligations
is about six billion,
so that difference of one
billion goes into this fund,
and that’s how that money grows.
And the church hires the very
best of investment bankers
to make that money grow, so.
– But those numbers, you
don’t know to be exact?
– No one really knows.
– Nobody really knows.
– It’s like,
people who dissect the SEC filings
and other public information
try to connect the dots.
It’d be nice if the church was transparent
and told its members,
because they, again,
are sacrificing so much.
And if there’s nothing
to hide, why not share?
The church has a big emphasis
in the continent of Africa.
And I think it’s a good proposition
for many of those people.
The church is incredibly wealthy,
and although the church teaches
the law of tithing to these people,
which is an incredible sacrifice,
the church also provides
food, clean water,
and I believe education, in a sense.
I can see how there can be
a good amount of conversion
to the LDS faith.
– So that goes against the narrative
that many people have of the
church being racist, right?
Trying to say this white, pure-blood,
blonde-haired, John Smith-type religion,
they’re taking in everyone.
I mean, is that fair to say?
– The history is interesting,
and when Joseph Smith founded the church,
there were Black members of the church,
Black members who, for example,
received the priesthood.
A famous Black member is
by the name of Elijah Abel.
Joseph Smith dies,
Brigham and his followers go to Utah,
establish a church there.
And I believe, in 1852,
this is my opinion,
Brigham Young had different ideas.
That’s when the racism started,
where that’s when the
priesthood restriction
and the temple restriction
started for the church.
People of color, Black skin specifically,
could not get the saving
ordinances of the temple
necessary to go to heaven.
But in 1978, the church lifted that ban.
So it was, what’s the math on that?
126 years of restriction.
– But in 2023, it’s open
on that front, right?
Or no?
– It is,
but I’ll say this,
missionary’s goal today,
and always has been,
when they preach the gospel,
they’re not saying, “Join
our church, it’s good.
We got great structure for families,
and you’ll have good
associations with your neighbor.”
What missionaries are saying is,
“Join this church
because it is the only
true church on the land.
God speaks to prophets.
All other Christian churches are wrong.
We, the Mormon church,
have the full gospel.”
And if that’s the case,
why was there a priesthood
ban to begin with?
Out of necessity, the church changed.
The church should be at the
forefront of change in society,
not always decades behind.
An example is, in the United States,
the civil rights movement was in the 60s,
the Civil Rights Act was
passed into law in 1964.
Why is it that the church
about two decades later finally change?
They should be ahead of the curve.
And there’s argument that
there’s people on this land,
the whole world for that matter,
who never had a racist bone in their body,
and would promote and push for equality
for all members of the church,
but for some reason, the church,
for 126 years, held that line
of Brigham Young.
(blinker ticking)
– [Peter] Cool place, Todd.
– My understanding is
that there was a family
that lived here 50, 60, 70 years ago.
It was all farm.
And so they converted their farmhouse,
their house into a restaurant.
– Wow.
– And over here
are fields where they
grow as much as they can
and use it for the restaurant.
– Oh, awesome.
– The things
that they can’t produce,
they use local growers,
even for all the meat,
beef, poultry, et cetera.
– [Peter] What a cool place.
Look at this tree here.
Must be hundreds of years old.
How about with the families,
like your parents or your wife’s parents,
was that a challenge?
– It’s been a challenge,
my family, for the most
part, has been great.
It was a learning curve for them at first,
but today, we’re in a good
place, for the most part.
Sometimes, it’s a little uncomfortable,
usually family gatherings
are centered around the
church or church events,
like Easter celebrations,
or Christmas celebrations,
it becomes a little bit of a challenge
’cause of the messages
that are often shared.
– [Peter] But you’re still invited?
– Yeah, for sure.
– You can sit
at the same table?
– Yeah, we have a great
relationship with my parents.
Their love is not conditional.
They love to see us, see our kids.
My mom.
– Hello.
– Hi.
– The barbecue bacon blue burger is?
– The burger man is right here.
– [Peter] Burger man.
Thank you.
– Barbecue. (indistinct)
– Great, thank you so much.
– Both got everything you?
– Thank you.
– And I’ll take this
out your way.
– [Peter] That’s a meal, look at that.
– I have to document this, too, so.
(both laughing)
– Wow.
– [Todd] Cornbread, some fries.
– [Peter] Ribs, pulled pork, beans.
And this is just a loaded burger of sorts,
with Gouda cheese.
So you’ve been lucky in
the sense that your parents
haven’t kicked you outta
the family, let’s say.
– Yeah, absolutely, none of that.
My parents always ask about
our kids, what they’re doing,
just great grandparents,
just asking all the questions,
making sure everyone is doing good,
and being loving and caring in every way.
But I think there’s a little bit of like,
since we’re not part of the church,
there’s just been a disruption
in what has always been.
Again, the end goal is to live this life
to the best you can,
complete all the ordinances of the church,
and the goal is to get to heaven,
to live with Heavenly Father again,
as a family all together.
– [Peter] So do you think your parents
think you won’t go to
heaven now that you left?
– I wonder, but that’s the doctrine.
We resigned from the church,
which means all of our covenants we made,
from baptism to all the temple,
has been basically null and void, so.
– Or do you even believe in
heaven now since you left,
or tough to say?
– I don’t know.
I mean, and I guess my
answer is I don’t know,
and I’m at peace with I don’t know.
In my experience, when I was a member,
you would work so hard your entire life,
and putting doubts on yourself
that you’re not doing enough,
you’re not good enough,
you’re not doing everything that you can.
And so I think there’s a
little bit of a constant fear
that, “Will all of our family be together?
Are we all doing all the
things that we need to
to go to heaven?”
There’s a primary song that kids learn,
and the lines are, “Teach
me all that I must do
to live with him,” meaning
Father in heaven, “someday.”
So it’s in the doing,
it’s not just like, “I
believe,” it’s in the doing.
And I think, with a lot of members,
there’s stress and worry
that, “I’m not doing enough.”
They are too hard on themselves.
And they always kind of self-doubt
and beat themselves up sometimes.
Like, “I slipped, I did
this or I did that.”
And your whole life,
you’re just working super hard.
So like on my mission, for example.
A mission for boys or men
is 24 months, or two years,
I extended one month on my own
because I felt maybe if I did that,
that would be pleasing to God,
because I put self-doubt,
like, “I didn’t work as
hard as I could’ve been,
on a daily basis.”
When you retire to your apartment,
you fall asleep when
your head hits the pillow
within two seconds,
that kind of effort, you know what I mean?
– Delicious burger.
– Glad you like it.
– Excellent, yeah.
Mm.
So when you left, were you scared?
Were you scared of anybody, for example?
– Yes, Sarah and I did a podcast.
And I grew up like,
“You do not say anything
negative towards a church,
you do not.
You don’t speak out against it,
you don’t do anything
against it, you don’t.”
So the first time in
my life, in a big way,
Sarah and I did that podcast
back in 2019, I think it was.
We got home from it,
and I’m literally looking
through my blinds, “Are they?”
Now, I’m being kinda crazy,
but I thought the ward members around me
would be very upset.
– Is there a vacuum that
needed to be filled?
Because in my research for this story,
I’ve noticed some people
seem to be doing pretty well.
Others, there was such a structure,
there was something so meaningful
that they don’t have something
to fill the void with,
or they’ve even like gone as far
to the other end of the
spectrum as possible.
Finding a purpose or
something to stand behind,
in politics or something else.
What are your thoughts on that?
Because it’s like, how
do you take something out
that was almost like an operating system,
if you don’t have anything
to replace it with?
How do you cope? How
do you deal with that?
– I would agree, so for me,
it was a devastating loss
and it made you rethink
everything in life,
because again, the church
provided a complete roadmap
from start to finish.
And so for me, I didn’t
have answers overnight.
And it’s still a journey
for me and my family.
Now, I’m full of hope,
and I think, for us,
we’re constantly learning
to be even more
compassionate, more loving,
and more open to other
people’s point of view
and their experiences.
My wife is studying to be a
family and marriage therapist.
She wants to give back.
– Okay, great.
– In the short term of things,
I’m helping special needs
kids, taking ’em to school.
And I find that
super rewarding.
– That’s awesome.
That’s awesome.
– So.
– So you’re finding purpose
through other missions
that help people out.
– Yeah.
– Or you and your wife
are both doing that.
– I think joy
is found more than ever
in helping humanity,
being a human,
and love unconditionally,
without an agenda,
without, in the back of your mind,
you’re trying to share something
or convert them to something,
’cause at this point, I don’t
know the answers of life,
and I’m at peace with that.
There’s 17 million members of the church,
and there’s I think eight
billion people on the earth.
And so if you do the division,
the mathematics on that,
I think it’s like .002%
of the world’s population
is Mormon, or LDS.
The basis of the church
is they’re sharing what’s
called the plan of salvation,
where God created this
plan before the world was,
so that people can go through these steps
to become like him.
And it’s just, the thought
came to me one day,
I’m like, “Wow, at this point,
the church has been in existence for 100,”
whatever it is, “150 plus years,”
and the early leaders of the church
would state that, “On one
hand, Christ’s coming is near,”
and another hand, they would say,
“We’re gonna fill the
earth with the gospel.”
But then I think, “Wow, only .002%
of the world’s population
identifies as LDS.
That’s not a very good ratio.
it’s very low.” (laughing)
– You got some missionary work to do.
– Or if God is all
powerful and all knowing,
and if let’s say Christ
came on the earth today,
only a small fraction of his people
would be worthy or good enough
to return to his presence.
So that’s kind of a crappy
plan, you know what I mean?
– So in the Mormon world,
what would happen to me?
– Well.
– How would they view me?
– So in the Mormon world,
you’re gonna go to the spirit world,
and there’ll be missionaries there,
so you have a chance there
to learn the gospel and.
– As a current non-believer,
I die, I have a chance?
– Yeah, right.
– Okay.
– Now, the fact that
you’re doing this documentary
and the fact that you’re
talking to me and the others,
you’re on kinda loose ground already,
because you’ve been telling all this stuff
and you’re choosing
not to become a member.
– Uh-oh.
– And let’s say you don’t
become a member and you die,
but in the spirit world,
you’d be given another
chance to accept the gospel,
become baptized, do all the things.
– So if I don’t do it
there, then what happens?
I go to hell?
– Then Judgment Day will come,
and you’ll be sent to
four different kingdoms.
Outer darkness, which is
for the super bad people,
murderers, those who,
oh, oh, you deny the Holy Ghost?
I’m a little rusty.
And that’s where the
super-bad people, really bad,
that’s where Satan dwells, I think.
And then there’s three kingdoms of glory.
There’s celestial’s the top,
telestial, and then terrestrial kingdom.
And so the judgment bar of God
will determine which of
those kingdoms you go to.
The goal is celestial,
’cause that’s where you become God,
and you’ll be dwelled with God.
The other two, I think, God visits.
But what’s troublesome is,
maybe some of your family’s
gonna be in the celestial
and you won’t see them.
So there’s some motivation
to do all you can to get to the celestial.
– And in the original teachings now,
not the LDS church now, they’ve changed,
but the fundamentalists believe
to get to the celestial,
you need three wives.
– Oh, good point.
So the founding fathers of the church,
the prophets and apostles,
Brigham Young, for example,
they taught that in order to
get to the celestial kingdom,
you must enter into plural marriage.
Now, the number of wives, I’m not sure,
but it’s more than one.
Now.
– But that’s changed,
to be clear on the record.
– Yeah,
so the history is.
– It’s changed.
– The US government almost
brought the church to their knees
for practicing it,
and so I think the third prophet in
put the kibosh on it,
they stopped it completely.
But another interesting fact is,
polygamy technically still occurs
in the Mormon church today. (laughing)
♪ Dun, dun, dun ♪
Right? So let’s say,
and this is the privilege of a man,
so let’s say I’m a member of the church,
and I’m fully a member,
my wife dies, it’s sad.
And we were stilled together, okay?
I have the opportunity
to marry another woman
and be sealed in the temple to her,
so that if we all live faithfully,
we will live forever in
the celestial kingdom,
and I’ll have two wives,
or more technically, if
that second one dies.
So President Nelson and President Oaks,
I think their original, their
first spouse passed away,
and they’re sealed to their second wife.
So technically, in a spiritual sense,
and many others are practicing polygamy.
– So in the afterlife,
they’ll have a plural marriage?
– Right.
– Okay.
– Now, I mean,
there’s lots of problems with this,
but one of them that screams out at me,
let’s say, for me, my wife,
we’re still in the church, she dies,
she won’t have any say
on me marrying another
until it’s already done,
and it won’t be until the afterlife.
So I think a lot of this is you,
within the the teachings of the church,
there’s no say with women on what happens.
They don’t have autonomy,
they don’t have any choice
in a lot of different things,
and that’s one of ’em.
All real decisions ae made by men,
the First Presidency and
Quorum of the Twelve,
down to the local level.
Sure, we have organizations
where the children’s organization,
the leadership are women.
And then there’s an
organization for young women,
so there’s leadership there.
And for adult women, there’s
another organization,
there’s leadership there.
But true decisions in terms
of the church are made by men,
and just certain callings,
like being a secretary for the bishop,
or a financial clerk for the bishop,
or a membership clerk for the bishop,
by design, are priesthood callings,
and priesthoods are only held by men.
Help with the collection of tithing money
and some of the local expenses,
under the supervision and
direction of the bishop.
Women can’t do any of that.
But looking back, it’s silly,
because I’m sure there’s
well-qualified women,
who maybe are accountants by trade,
who can do a phenomenal job, but because.
– So they’re not allowed
to do that at all?
– Right, it’s.
– Is that nationwide or just in?
– Nationwide.
– Okay.
When you were in the church
and you heard of someone leaving
or knew of someone leaving,
what did you think about them?
(Todd sighing)
– I would be guilty of
not trying to understand
on a personal level and
a truly empathetic level,
their journey.
– You wouldn’t think, “Oh, that’s a loser,
or just a non-believer,
they’ve gone off the rails?”
– I would say, I would think,
internally, I would have pity,
a common saying is, “They’re
not holding onto the rod,”
the iron rod where it
helps you stay righteous
and close to God.
“You’re not on the path to righteousness.”
I don’t think I would overtly say things,
but I think I would be
guilty of maybe thinking it,
’cause this is kind of how we were wired.
Again, those negative
messages from leaders,
like, “They’re lazy,
they must’ve been offended,”
all that kinda thing, so.
– What would you want,
if there was one thing
you would want people
of the church to know,
or one main point you’d like to bring out?
– I would say, if someone that you love,
family or friend,
decides to leave the church,
go have a honest conversation with them
and ask them in a sincere way,
like, “What led you to leave?”
And out of love and
concern, ask that question,
because I think, oftentimes,
and I’ve spoken to many people about this,
is they feel deserted.
I think members are
conditioned, unfortunately,
again, by top leadership,
that we’re dangerous,
we can’t be trusted anymore.
There’s just constant messages like that
that teach members to be nice,
but stay your distance.
And we’re just like you,
we were just like you at one point,
and nothing has changed
in that regard, we’re.
– And you don’t look down
on them for still believing?
– No, I mean, for many, I understand why.
I think, for many, and I understand it,
that the cost is too great
for some of them to leave.
– But many in it still,
I’ve met with a lot of
Mormons the last few weeks.
Great people, I met some great people,
and you never know what’s
going on inside someone’s head.
But there’s different degrees to it, too.
I’m technically protestant,
that’s how I was grown up.
Now, I don’t practice,
so I can be called protestant,
but I don’t partake so much.
I’ve met some Mormons
that are really putting a
lot of time in every day,
and I also met some that are like,
“Yeah, it’s my belief, it’s what I,”
but they’re not, I wouldn’t
say, to the grindstone with it.
And I see how it’s a great
mold for many people,
this is my outside.
Do I wanna be part of it?
No, do I wanna be part of
any organized religion?
No, it’s not my jam.
So it’s not gonna work,
no one’s gonna sell it to me.
(Todd laughing)
But (laughing)
I try to respect everyone,
and not judge at all
and not think my ways are right
and their ways are wrong.
So, I mean, isn’t it fair to say,
some people, though you’ve read the truth,
in your opinion, the truth,
they just need to find that,
but maybe they’re happy
in the world they’re in,
and the world they’re in is
the best place for them to be.
– That’s a fair point,
and I understand that.
And I’m not here,
and many people who live
are not here to pull people away.
I’m about, for the church, for example,
especially for new
converts, to be transparent.
Tell the good, the bad, the ugly.
Everything, from the church history,
and to what you’re doing today.
And don’t hide behind it
and don’t try to cover.
And then once the
individual knows all of it,
all the information,
then you can decide.
I mean, I believe in transparency
and in informed consent.
That’s a big one because
I strongly believe
that it’s not there.
It hasn’t been, and it’s
still not there today.
A person, because again, look at my life,
(laughing) you will devote
everything to the church,
your time, your talents and your money,
everything to the church
for your whole life.
So that individual deserves,
deserves to know everything.
The church needs to be transparent
and the individual is entitled to
or deserves informed consent to decide.
– Yeah, I agree.
Well, Todd, thanks for that.
Not easy to tell that story, I’m sure.
– Yeah, it’s challenging, it’s tough,
but it’s a story that needs to be told
The hope is just to have
mutual understanding
for the members that stay,
for the members who leave,
so.
– Okay, great.
No, I appreciate it.
Give you a handshake here.
Thank you so much.
– You’re welcome.
– And guys, this is part of
a greater LDS Mormon series.
I have three other videos
of people in the religion
that seem to love it.
Two stories about fundamentalism,
which is totally different than LDS,
but I wanted to show that difference,
and you, someone that’s left,
and I felt that was an important
component to the series.
– Thank you, well, thanks
for the opportunity.
It was fun.
– No, thank you, awesome.
Until the next one, guys.
(upbeat music)
(upbeat music continues)

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