Post Mormon group supports those who leave LDS church

Dixie Sun, Utah/March 19, 2008

People who have decided to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may feel relieved when they have an organization to lean on.

People who have decided to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may feel relieved when they have an organization to lean on.

Jeff Ricks founded the Post Mormon organization in 2002. Ricks was an active member of the church for 30 years. He had complete faith in the church, served a mission and was married in the temple. At age 40 he started questioning the church and made the decision to leave in 1993.

"When I walked away from the church, my Mormon friends scattered, and I didn't know how to make friends with people who weren't Mormon," Ricks said.

For nearly 10 years, his network of friends was gone. During the Winter Olympics in 2002 he found a discussion forum online for former Mormons. He followed the discussions and eventually met up with the group for a party. Ricks said during the party he felt instant rapport with everyone and was relieved to meet people with whom he could connect after so long.

"I went out in my car to go home, was about to start up the engine, and I just broke down crying," Ricks said. "It felt so good to finally find people who understood."

The years of feeling alone and the emotional experience at the party gave Ricks the determination to start an organization to support others who have left the church. He met up with members of a support group in Ogden who asked him to help them start a Web site. Ricks began working on it and decided he would start a group in Logan and be a part of the Web site. He also wanted to encourage people to start groups in their area.

After the groups in Logan and Ogden started, groups began in Phoenix, Seattle and Portland, then the growth of the organization plateaued. Ricks said he decided to revamp the Web site and make it more interactive with comments and discussion forums, and things began to take off.

In 2005 he recruited a board of trustees in order to organize a non-profit corporation; that led to tax exempt status, and donations were put toward advertising. Plans were then placed on hold for Rick's health.

After a year Ricks got back to working on his organization and started receiving funds. His first large donation enabled him to post the first billboard, which was placed in Logan.

The local paper printed an article about the organization, and the Associated Press picked it up so the article appeared in multiple newspapers in different states.

Ricks said the impact of the article across states really got the organization popular. Post Mormon is now organized into more than 40 chapters throughout the world. There are several in Canada, four in Europe, and one each in New Zealand, Australia and Ecuador.

The mission statement of Post Mormon is to provide and maintain systems that facilitate the growth and development of a safe and supportive community for those who leave or are considering leaving the Mormon church.

"We are not about pulling people out of the church," Ricks said. "Leaving the church is very difficult on families. We push people back in and tell people to take their time, no hurry, and to bring their spouse along if possible."

Jonathan Ellis, a junior art major from Fredonia, Ariz., left the LDS church three years ago. After leaving the church, Ellis said he spent a lot of time feeling alone and was depressed and confused.

"I felt very relieved that I had managed to liberate myself from a very sheltered and bigot organization, but it was difficult leaving the thing that had always given me direction," Ellis said.

Ellis said he recently discovered Post Mormon after seeing the billboard.

"I've since joined their online community, hoping that my understanding and compassion may ease the suffering of others as they leave the Mormon church," Ellis said. "I believe Post Mormon's greatest strength is its care and concern for people who are going through painful rejection from an organization they once respected, and the social and political ramifications they experience in their lives."

Brad Biedermann, spokesperson for the St. George chapter, offered advice to students who have left the church.

He said students should take the good things they have gained from their religion such as a healthy lifestyle and commitment to family with them.

He also suggested thoroughly studying the issues facing the church from both the church's perspective as well as the Post Mormon perspective.

"Enlightenment is painful and is much like going through a divorce," Biedermann said. "Be patient and allow yourself to heal and grow."

If people want to help the organization, donations are always accepted. Ricks is also looking for people who have professional, legal and Web development experience.

St. George chapter meetings are held the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 850 S. Bluff St.

There is also a library of books available to check out at the meetings.

For more information, visit

"Perhaps the very knowledge that [post Mormons] are not alone will ease the suffering of those leaving the church," Ellis said.

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