My journey began as a young Mormon. Church was a big part of my culture back then. I wasn’t allowed to play outside on Sunday’s, I had to read the scriptures with my family and pray morning and night. There were a lot of rules I had to follow, and that I did follow blindly for some time. I remember as I reached 13-14 years old I started to question whether or not the church was true. My parents, and fellow church members encouraged me to pray and read the book of Mormon and ask God myself to find answers. I prayed for various things to happen or for the strength to accomplish mediocre childish whims. I read the bible and book of Mormon. Answers just didn’t seem to fall into place for me but I continued to believe because everyone around me did. Most of my friends were church members so it made sense that it was just true. My first occasion to start to actually believe there was a God came from an incident where I got caught stealing from a local gas station. I remember the feeling of dread and looming doom for getting caught. My parents response was to immediately take me to the bishop to confess my sins so I could start repenting. I remember as I told my bishop what I had done and why the dread lifted. I felt clean and pure again. At the time I believed this was divine intervention to go through such a drastic change of heart (I later realized that the process of confession provides the same feelings in general no matter who you tell). Nothing else really happened, there was no clicking or witnessing actual miracles. I gradually became tired of the imposing rules that Mormonism has and started to just care less about the truth of the religion. Over time I became more agnostic, I wanted to do what I wanted and figured that once I died I would find out for sure. I had failed to get a true confirmation/testimony that the church was true but still had the dogma to tie me into the overall philosophy of the church. This period of time lasted from around the ages of 16-24. What started my change was picking up A Brief History of The Universe, I realized that physics was extremely interesting. I started to read other books about physics. I had tapped into a desire to learn I did not know exited previously. I then came back to the religious question and decided to look into other options to see how they made me feel. I started to meditate, read books about Buddha, but I never really gave serious thought to reincarnation and other eastern religious views. I mainly enjoyed the act of meditating and the simple peace it brought my life for even 5 minutes a day. This is when I realized that all those prayers and the confessions that brought me this weird feeling that others described as the spirit was actually just a peaceful state of mind. The calmness and serenity of meditation taught me that God wasn’t necessary to be at peace, it was an internal state of mind that I could control. I then decided to read The God Delusion and several Sam Harris books on the subject. I finally found literature that made sense. Religious arguments had always been based on how you feel and I had finally found people who thought deeply about religions and came to conclusions that logically added up. I realized people really only believe because of dogma and wouldn’t otherwise. Simply put a person raised christian saw Islam as ludicrous and vice versa. Someone of one faith will pick apart another religion by the same logic I would pick apart theirs but would be blinded when the topic returned to their own. There became an overwhelmingly lack of evidence to support any religion I encountered. During many discussions with missionaries and other religious advocates I realized when they failed to answer my questions it all came down to I believe because of faith. It always came back to I believe without any evidence because I’m supposed to. Most people would ask me about miracles or varying degrees. While some couldn’t be explained I found most people reassert their belief with personal miracles. By that I mean they aren’t miracles at all. Things like, with God I was able to stop drinking, or turn my life around, etc. Those may be personal feats of great importance but they do not classify as real miracles. So with the dogma unraveling and the articulate reasoning of Dawkins and Harris I forged a new path of understanding. Something unexpected happened during this process, my love for life and the world around me increased. The beauty of the world and complexity became more astounding. One of the most irritating comments religious people still make to me is “how can you see beauty in the world if God didn’t create it” (not in these exact words but the general idea). I also get people that tell me “You don’t really believe that”. I get that it is such a different thought process to not rely on skywizards but it was the most freeing change of heart I have experienced. This may be an unorganized rant about my de-conversion, but it represents that the path wasn’t a straight one for me. It wasn’t overnight. It was gradual over time and with many point of doubt leading me back into religion. I was finally able to free myself of the shackles of Mormonism. I should have inserted this earlier, but the reason it was so freeing to become atheist was the fictitious guilt that had accumulated over the years from not following a religion I had been raised in. During my agnostic years there was always a nagging that maybe you shouldn’t be doing this or that. When I first started socializing on Sundays and not going to church it was difficult to accept those changes. At first I thought it was guilt because I’m not following a religion. But after much contemplation it became apparent the guilt was from changing drastically from my upbringing. An English professor said it best “I am a recovering catholic”. I can now say I have recovered from Mormonism and can live my life without disguised prejudice and misplaced ideas of religious freedoms.