Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Jason Harris
Hi! I’m Jason Harris. I lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. On this site I write about my experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. I believe all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. I believe there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.
Shandra and I married in the DC temple in 1998 and have five beautiful children, two of whom are just about to finish their undergraduate degrees. We checked all of the boxes good Mormon families should check: Temple marriage, fulfill callings, regular prayer and scripture study, Family Home Evening, regular temple attendance, staying “temple worthy,” etc.
As mentioned, I grew up an orthodox Mormon my entire life. Shandra also grew up an active Mormon, though less “stringent” than my upbringing. Our ancestors go back to literally the very beginning of the Mormon Church. I’m a descendant of Martin Harris. Joseph F. Smith is one of Shandra’s ancestors.
I officially resigned from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March of 2019.
Why I Resigned
I resigned for several reasons.
First and foremost, diligently following the Mormon commandments ended up being very harmful in some ways to our family. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but it has been ours. In addition to past (and ongoing) harm along racial lines, I also saw the harm that is still coming into the lives of many members of the Church, especially women and the LGBTQ population (at present) and could no longer agree to my name being on the membership records of the Mormon Church.
In addition, after studying the truth claims of the LDS Church in depth, I came to the conclusion it most definitely is NOT what it claims to be. It was incredibly painful to realize the Mormon Church has been actively suppressing and discouraging LDS members from learning factual information that strongly contradicts unique LDS truth claims. In my view, at the highest institutional levels, the Mormon Church does not actually value truth if it challenges institutional foundational claims. I believe the institutional Mormon church is much more about claiming to speak for Jesus than actually following Jesus. In addition to the twisting and obfuscation of data, the Mormon Church often actively gaslights those who make the claims I have just made, insisting that no such efforts to suppress information have been made. This is an abusive practice and is wrong.
I came to the conclusion the Mormon Church is NOT “true” after literally years of painstaking study. All of this was an incredibly emotionally eviscerating process. Something I and my family are all still recovering from.
The Good in the Mormon Church
This isn’t to say there aren’t good aspects of the Mormon Church. There are. Like other high-demand religions, the strong sense of community and being our “brother’s and sister’s keepers” is prevalent throughout Mormonism. This can bring with it much emotional stability and comfort.
Many of the stories of Mormonism that are often viewed through literal lenses can in fact also/instead be viewed through metaphorical lenses, which can add even more significance and beauty to the one embracing the stories.
Many of the values Mormonism teaches or tried to teach: Kindness, Integrity, Seeking Truth, Loyalty, Courage, Reverence, etc… Many of these values are beautiful to manifest from one’s character regardless of what stage of life one is in.
In the Mormon Church, the formula for happiness is simple. Read scriptures, pray, attend and serve in Church, pay tithing and follow other Mormon commandments, have Family Home Evening, attend the temple, and all will be well. Everything will work out in familial relationships and life in general for the best.
Mental Health After Transitioning Out of the Mormon Church
I’m glad to find that coming out of the side of this faith transition I’m more emotionally healthy, contented and at peace than I felt inside the Mormon Church.
I’ve experienced many benefits from consistently practicing mindfulness. Noticing and exploring with a non-judgmental sense of compassionate curiosity the thoughts and emotions I experience to a fuller extent as well as being more mindful and curious of the experiences of others around me.
I’ve also learned to greatly reduce many cognitive distortions that are an intrinsic part of Mormon teachings and Mormon culture. And as I’ve done so, my happiness has increased. Examples of such cognitive distortions include: Mind reading (Mormons are taught the Spirit can help discern other’s intents), Prophesying (Mormons are taught this is a gift of the Spirit), Black and White thinking and absolutist thinking (Mormons are taught to shun ALL evil. There is a right and a wrong to every question.), Emotional Reasoning (Mormons are taught that “The Spirit” will guide to all truth), Mental Filtering (Mormons are taught to ignore evidence that contradicts a Mormon world-view), Catastrophizing (The entire Mormon world-view is based on beliefs in a coming apocalyptic world-cataclysm… any day now), Labeling (Us vs. them… Member vs. non-member. Etc.), “Should” thinking (There are MANY things Mormons know SHOULD be done)… and MANY more.
I’ve also learned to relate to my emotions in a much healthier way. In Mormonism, I learned to ignore and cut off huge portions of my inner emotional world… which then ironically cut off my ability to fully emotionally relate to others (empathy). Because I couldn’t fully relate to myself. Since learning to more fully embrace all of myself, to offer myself unconditional positive regard (“Worth” always has to be hustled for and earned in Mormonism) I’ve become a more loving person.
I’ve also learned how to tune into my body. Not just sensations that I was taught in Mormonism “come from the Spirit” but ALL of my bodily sensations. What are they trying to tell me? Etc. This has been a very healing, healthy and grounding process.
How Others in Our Family are Also Benefitting
Others in our family are also benefiting from our faith transition.
Shandra now works as a counselor and will start a PhD program in a few months. She is (finally) pursuing her dreams! Something that the Mormon teachings in fact discouraged. Because I already made “sufficient” income for our family.
Our daughters are both pursuing their career dreams and ambitions as well… knowing that nursing their intellect is as important as nursing whatever religious views they may (or may not) have. They are free.
Bottom line… in so many ways, this faith transition has been a very good thing for me, for Shandra and for our family. There HAVE been painful aspects of this for sure. It hasn’t been all roses. But despite the pain, or perhaps in part because of it, there has been growth and development. And this has been a good thing.
Structure and Navigation of this Site
I started this website in a way for my own mental health. Writing and sharing my perspectives the past few years about this experience has been very therapeutic. I also share posts here with the hope that others may also find some of this helpful. I share experiences with the 1. construction, 2. deconstruction and subsequent 3. reconstruction of my world paradigms and approaches to life.
For ease of navigation, all posts on this site are visible under BLOG in the top menu bar. Posts are also visible as links in the right column (desktop devices) or at the bottom of each page (mobile devices). Links to RESOURCES are in the top menu bar as well (articles, books, support groups, websites, etc.).
There IS Light on the Other Side!
It is often emotionally traumatic to leave any tight-knit, high-demand religious organization. Sharing our stories can be beneficial. There is beauty, light and hope on the other side! I would choose this path again and hope sharing portions of my voyage will be beneficial to others reading this as well, regardless of where the reader is in her/his Hero’s Journey.
Despite harm experienced, I’m also thankful for the good I learned in Mormonism. I now view Mormonism as a small part of a much larger and richer tapestry. I believe all religions and scripture are man-made and believe there is Divinity in all of them.