Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith

Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith

As “Mormon royalty” within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church’s high elders in an existence framed by the strictest code of conduct. As an adult, she moved to the east coast, outside of her Mormon enclave for the first time in her life. When her son was born with Down syndrome, Martha and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace

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3 Responses to Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith

  1. Jeanmarie Todd "locavore omnivore bibliovore" says:
    905 of 1,076 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    the ring of truth, March 3, 2005
    By 
    Jeanmarie Todd “locavore omnivore bibliovore” (Mendocino County, CA, United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    By the top of page 4, I knew who Martha is and who her father was. I was raised in the church and served a mission to Japan in the late 1970s with one of Martha’s brothers.

    Martha’s book is the most honest and even-handed account of the church and its doctrinal dilemmas I have ever come across. Most accounts are either for or against the church and seek only to destroy other viewpoints. I didn’t get that feeling from Martha’s account at all. It’s clear that most of those condemning this book haven’t read it. Ignore them and read it yourself.

    I grew up reading every LDS Church book I could get my hands on. I pored over them, practically memorized some of them, and read the Book of Mormon and other scriptures daily and prayed with all my heart. I was the kid who always loved to go to church; no one had to drag me there. After a great deal of soul-searching over many years, I left the LDS church about 20 years ago, at the age of 27. I didn’t experience the kind of sexual abuse Martha went through, and my heart goes out to all who have suffered so, but I could relate 100% to her descriptions of the Church, the doctrines, the good people who try so hard to be perfect, the yearning for God, the incredible mental efforts to try to make sense out of the nonsense, the secrecy and obsession with control of the leadership. I’ll never forget how disappointed I felt when I first put on the temple garments and went through the endowment ceremony at the Oakland Temple.

    I first became aware of certain issues about unsavory behavior by some of the leadership while on my mission, and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. I know we are all human and have weaknesses, but the problem is when religious institutions try to set up some people as infallible and not to be questioned (the Pope, the mullahs and ayatollahs, and the General Authorities all come to mind). I tried to make it all make sense, and I tried to forget that polygamy was the fate that awaits good Mormon women. I tried to forget the many little insults and debasements of Mormon women. Ultimately I could not ignore the evidence of my senses, my reasoning and my conscience. The greatest lessons that I learned from my years in the Church are ultimately what led me away: to listen to the still, small voice inside, to do what I knew was right no matter what others around me might say, and to open my heart and mind to unsuspected sources of joy and understanding. I can’t say I’ve found as much certainty as Martha seems to have found, but I am certain that one of the smartest things I ever did was to leave the Church; I only wish I’d done it sooner. Much, much sooner. Martha’s book has helped me to free myself from the last vestiges of regret. I miss the sense of community, yes, but I know that the Church is not the only place that can be found.

    I’ve read some of the hate mail Martha has received on her site, […] and it doesn’t reflect well on those people’s personal religion. That is, spewing that kind of hate and intolerance is hardly a sign you are close to the divine. I know that most Mormons are very good, sincere people who try very hard to do what is right. I grew up among them, I was one of them, and many family members and extended family members are still very devout and no doubt think I’m beyond the pale because I left. I say, if it works for them, more power to them, but I could not continue in such a patriarchal, controlling, domineering environment where the truth must be whitewashed and carefully controlled. Thanks, Martha, for writing so eloquently and compassionately about your journey.

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  2. scared "annonymous" says:
    99 of 117 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Very interesting, April 29, 2006
    By 
    scared “annonymous” (Salt Lake City Utah) –

    I’m going to make this review annonymous, because I am a Mormon who is strongly considering leaving the church and I do not want any retalitation. I’m not ready for it yet.

    This book was very interesting and I know that there is a lot of debate as to whether or not Martha is telling the truth about her father. I don’t think anybody has any right to say whether she is telling the truth or not because no one was there except Martha and her father. Therefore the only two who truly know the truth are Martha and her father, and of course God. I can tell you that here where I live there was a big discussion one night after fireside about this book, and all the people at my church who are devout Mormons strongly accuse Martha Beck of being a liar. I asked them just casually if they had read her book. They all claimed they would never touch it. That’s what made me (secretly of course) obtain a copy of her book and read it.

    I’m glad that John Beck has not suffered any loss of friends or relationships because he left the church. But I can tell you that if indeed that is true, that John Beck has a had a very rare experience. The vast majority of Mormons who leave the church suffer a lot of judgement and loss of relationships. When you leave the church you are an apostate and according to Mormon doctrince, have no chance to get into heaven. It’s only outer darkness for the apostate unless the ex-Mormon rejoins the church and gets re-baptized.

    I am very confused because I know the evidence that Joseph Smith was a very deceitful con man is black and white. There is no arguing it. There is so much black and white evidence that very clearly shows the Mormon church as a false religion, and like all my friends and family, I used to turn a blind eye to all the evidence that scared me into realizing “maybe” the Mormon church really isn’t true. Over time I have been able to look at the evidence more without being prejudice. It’s just going to be hell on earth when I finally do reveal to my family and friends that I’m leaving the church. Everyone I know already believes that anyone who leaves the church has committed some horrible sin. But I haven’t at all. I’ve never even broken the word of wisdom or the laws of chastity. I’m just not so stupid anymore as to believe in a religion that is so obviously false.

    I hope I’m as brave as people like Martha Beck, John Beck, and Deboroh Laake. Until then, I’m remaining annonymous.

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  3. reading addict says:
    43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Heartbreaking yet Inspirational, January 21, 2011
    By 
    reading addict (East Lansing, MI USA) –

    This review is from: Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith (Paperback)
    Reading this book elicited a lot of strong emotions in me: compassion (for the author’s plights), anger (at her family and at Mormon officials), amazement (at some of the things I learned about Mormonism), happiness (at the author’s ability to find peace).

    Mormonism is unique among religions in that many of its claims are disprovable, and I’ve often wondered how an intelligent person could tolerate the cognitive dissonance that must arise when trying to live authentically yet still practice Mormonism. Ms. Beck is clearly highly intelligent and she basically concludes that she CAN’T handle this dissonance any longer. It’s fascinating to read about her discoveries and her processes.

    As for the sexual-abuse claims: They ring true to me. Even if one tends to doubt recovered memories, I can’t think of any reason why the author would invent the corroborating evidence, i.e., her scarring and the related memories that she had always had (such as bleeding between her thighs as a child). Why would she voluntarily subject herself to so much scorn from her family and the Mormon community, unless she really did need to release herself from the burden of her secret?

    The book feels authentic to me and is exceptionally well-written. Despite the many troubling issues addressed, it is ultimately inspirational, because the author finds peace within herself and, along the way, helps to convey to us readers how we, too, can find peace.

    I highly recommend this book.

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