I have always defined myself by my Mormon faith and heritage. My calculator from high school, for example, had the words “The Mormon” affectionately carved into its side by non-LDS friends. When visiting the priesthood restoration site as an adult, I chose a stone from the Susquehanna River bank to always remind myself of the priesthood in my life. Mormonism has been wonderful, in some ways. Scouting taught me to love nature. Duty taught me work ethic. Home teaching taught me love and persistence. My mission taught me compassion. Teaching at the missionary training center solidified a second language. A young family taught me to sacrifice. Return and report gave me skills for a successful career.
But my Mormonism has also been horrible. I didn’t know how to accept my homosexual sibling. I didn’t know how to relate to non-LDS friends, even potent believers in other faiths. I hurt people by trying to convert everyone. I harshly judged my siblings and family who were less faithful than I. My family broke apart when my sibling left the church and all communication ceased, in large part, because of unbelief. I willingly damaged relationships, vehemently advocating the gospel. I sacrificed great friendships to support Proposition 8. I chose poverty and debt to not delay having a large family. I ignored my children when Sunday meetings called. I potently and publicly defended my faith in front of my entire medical school class, certain that what I was saying was factually grounded and legitimate.
I was Mormon in every sense of the word…
… then my world shattered during scripture study one day. As a boy, I had meticulously and affectionately colored the facsimiles from the Book of Abraham in my seminary scriptures and so I had full confidence when I wondered what had happened to the papyri. I thought, “How wonderful if they could be found and then there would be evidence that Joseph was right.” It wouldn’t make others believe, I thought — God will never force — but it would strengthen me. The Wikipedia article I quickly searched changed my life forever. After reading that the translation was completely wrong, I knew there had to have been a mistake. This began many months and years of searching for facts, first this topic and then others, first only among LDS sources and FARMS/FAIR publications and then others, which concluded in a tearful agonizing day in 2013 when I felt convinced that I had been taught a modified version of the Church’s history and was misinformed about nearly every subject near and dear to my heart. The church was not what I had always known it to be.
I am only one of thousands who consider themselves victims of this historical concealment and partial disclosure. I loved Mormonism and still want to glean every good thing from my heritage, but I have been hurt by non-disclosure. I can still love my Mormon heritage, but I believe we should be honest about our history.