Dear reader,

It indeed feels strange to be writing a letter to an unknown visitor. You probably live far away from me. Your life has probably been very different from mine. Nonetheless, I hope this reaches you well.

We may have both grown up religious. Your beliefs may have changed at some point in your life. Or perhaps we have nothing in common when it comes to religion. Nonetheless, if you’re reading this letter, you probably share my fascination for religion and philosophy.

You may be experiencing a faith crisis. I’ve been there. If you’re doing what you can do to research and make an informed decision, kudos. It takes guts to question long-held religious beliefs.

On Anonymity

As I write this, I am reminded of a common sentiment among many church members. Some may suggest that I intend to anonymously berate church members or degrade their faith. You may feel afraid to read anything that contradicts what you’ve spent your whole life learning. I understand that feeling, and I want to honor it.

This sentiment is clear to me in the things church leaders teach in general meetings:

When we consider thoughtfully, why would we listen to the faceless, cynical voices of those in the great and spacious buildings of our time and ignore the pleas of those who genuinely love us? These ever-present naysayers prefer to tear down rather than elevate and to ridicule rather than uplift. […] These anonymous individuals, if presented to us honestly, would never be given a moment of our time, but because they exploit social media, hidden from scrutiny, they receive undeserved credibility.1

landon I fear my letter may be classified into this description and written off as the musings of an angry ex-mormon or interpreted as a bitter man shouting at the clouds. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I spent the first 24 years of my life as a dedicated member of the church. I served a mission, gave talks on Sundays, paid tithing, taught primary classes, and fulfilled ministering assignments. I wanted the church to be true with all my heart.

I have no desire to remain anonymous. My name is Landon Taylor, and I have a profile on this website. I post about my other interests online as well. I’m a PhD student studying formal verification, including automated methods to reason about complicated logical problems. My wife has read this letter, as have other family members and close friends. I am grateful for their support and feedback as I’ve tried to address these topics.

The topics I discuss are sacred and sensitive to millions of people. I hope my tone reflects a deep respect for you and your beliefs. If you decide, after reading this letter, that you would like to be a faithful member of the church, I want to honor your decision in advance. These things are complicated and merit a nuanced conversation. I want to empower you as an intelligent being who can make informed decisions.

On Mental Wellness

Religion is a serious topic. If you are reading this as a faithful Latter-Day Saint, I understand how disorienting and confusing it might be. Please take your time. I want to cover a lot of ground in this letter. You don’t need to read the whole thing at once.

Letters like this one often receive criticism from faithful rebuttals that they throw too much information at a reader. FAIR, for example, often refers to this as an “abusive tactic [in which people] are trying to coerce you into a situation where they can bombard you with so many doubt-provoking questions that they can cause your resolve to collapse and your identity to fall apart”2.

Because of this, I encourage you to take these issues one at a time. If you are skeptical, consider reading the next section, which makes my intentions clear.

Reading things in this letter will likely be triggering in one way or another. If a particular section is likely to be triggering, I have put a trigger warning at the top of the page. If a particular portion of a letter is likely to be triggering, I will put trigger warnings on collapsed text in documents, and they will look like this:

Trigger Warning: Example Content This text isn’t actually triggering, it’s just a simple demo of the website functionality. Hint: This text will only print if you expand the box before you click print.

I hope it has become clear that I care about preserving your well-being as you read this letter. It’s frustrating and confusing to challenge your beliefs, and you deserve respect during this process.

Table of Contents

This letter is extensive. I must once again encourage you to take your time. If you can only spare a few minutes for one letter, I recommend you read 1.2 My Story, as long as you are feeling mentally well enough to handle triggering or difficult topics.

Epistle 0: Introduction

This epistle is what you are reading right now.

0.1 Introduction presents an introduction to this letter and its author. It is intended to give readers a preview of what this letter includes and the perspective of its author.

0.2 Your Identity affirms truths about you and your identity. A faith crisis is challenging, and it is helpful to retain key parts of your identity as you examine your faith.

Epistle 1: My Perspective

This epistle should be largely non-controversial. I introduce my letter and myself, and I present general information on logic and reasoning.

1.1 My Intentions clarifies my motivation for writing this letter. It gives readers an opportunity to determine for themselves if they believe I have conflicting interests.

1.2 My Story is my personal, vulnerable story of key moments in my relationship with the church, told from childhood through the early years of my marriage.

1.3 Why I Stayed discusses why I stayed in the church as long as I did.

1.4 Why I Left talks about the extremely challenging decision I made to leave the church.

1.5 What Has Changed shares how my life has changed after leaving the church.

Epistle 2: Truth, Logic, and Doctrine

This epistle makes the case for exploring multiple perspectives, and it shares critical points that, in my opinion, refute many of the church’s truth claims.

2.1 On Truth argues in favor of truth-seeking from many sources.

2.2 The Essays describes critical issues that arise in the church-published Gospel Topics Essays, including previous attempts to hide this information.

2.3 Reasoning and Fallacy shares a brief overview of tools for logical analysis on which I rely throughout the remainder of this letter.

2.4 Self-Contradictions lists self-contradicting statements within scriptures and talks from modern church leadership.

2.5 Inconsistency describes critical inconsistencies in key parts of the church’s doctrine, especially regarding the nature of God and His church throughout history.

2.6 Testable Claims discusses the results of testable claims made by church leaders.

2.7 The Book of Mormon presents critical barriers to the truth of the Book of Mormon.

2.8 Changing History argues that the church has attempted to control the narrative of its own history to make it appear more favorable and faith-promoting.

Epistle 3: Culture

This epistle condemns cultural elements present within and often promoted by the church. I believe this is the most controversial epistle, and I encourage you to carefully consider my claims against your own experiences and beliefs.

3.1 Testimony explains critical issues that undermine spiritual experiences, including pressure from others to affirm belief from a young age or despite a lack of belief.

3.2 Manipulation lists manipulative speech and actions that are used or encouraged by the church and its leaders.

3.3 The BITE Model describes the harmful effects the church can have on members.

3.4 You Are Fundamentally Flawed asserts that one of the church’s most powerful methods of controlling its members is community-enforced perfectionism.

3.5 The Other condemns the elitist culture promoted by the church.

3.6 Acquaintanceships makes the argument that the organization of the church produces relationships that harm individuals and communities.

3.7 Missions details the harm that the modern missionary program causes.

3.8 Sex and Sexuality describes the harmful effects the church can have on vulnerable people, including the LGBT+ community and survivors of abuse and assault.

3.9 We Miss You describes the church’s harmful attitude toward people who leave.

  1. Stanfill, V. P. (2015, October). Choose the Light. General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT. ↩︎

  2. (Quoting Manuel W. Padro’s Quora submission) Allen, S. (2021, August 25). The CES Letter Rebuttal, Part 1. FAIR. ↩︎