After converting to Mormonism as a teen and attending BYU, Haleigh Evert’s relationship with the Mormon church grew unfulfilling and complicated. After leaving the church for a time, Haleigh came back to the Mormon church, married in the temple, and started making videos and writing about her Mormon journey.

Haleigh eventually published the book “Why I Left the Mormon Church and Came Back,” which is still sold at Deseret Book today. Then, after years of promoting and defending the Mormon church, Haleigh read the CES Letter for the first time (just a month and a half ago).

In this episode we discuss Haleigh’s conversion, her reach on social media as a Mormon influencer, and her life now after reading the CES letter.

Show Notes:


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4:20 Haleigh’s mom gets baptized and she attends church
16:40 Breaking the law of chastity, bishop using patriarchal blessing and temple to increase commitment
22:08 Visiting BYU and feeling that’s where the Lord wanted her
30:08 Meeting RM at BYU then breaks up with boyfriend
34:20 Markers of undue influence and YW leaders influence to marry in the temple/follow pat blessing
51:55 Exposed to BYU students who party and trying to date while staying chaste
1:01:14 Trying to go on a mission, falling for non-Mormon man then being ghosted
1:14:11 Purity culture at BYU, feeling like God led Haleigh to AZ, losing faith
1:28:43 Complicated relationship with the church, sleeping with Elder’s quorum pres
1:38:00 Reactivating in the church and feeling hopeful
1:43:20 Meeting her future husband (CJ) and sharing her past with him (and vice versa).
1:53:56 Disciplinary council process and living out probation
2:22:33 Going through the temple and non-member family excluded from wedding
2:52:10 Married life begins and husband discloses sins
2:56:19 Going viral for talking about coming back to Mormonism and getting book deal
3:25:48 Preaching the joys of Mormonism while feeling unhappy at church, marriage unraveling
3:43:41 Other Mormon influencer’s post spurs empathy for different beliefs
3:54:00 Haleigh lists her problems with the church while she has space to reflect during COVID
4:12:14 Haleigh feels duped after reading the CES letter
4:27:53 Regrets choosing the church over loving people and changing beliefs
4:32:35 Haleigh and her husband struggling with different views
4:44:05 Final thoughts and an apology to those Haleigh influenced in the church
5:04:26 Bishop assuming there is no happiness now for her and her family outside the church
5:16:52 Path forward for Haleigh


  1. Ariana T May 27, 2021 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Wow! This sounds like an amazing interview… it’s a long one, so it’s going to take me awhile to get through it. But I could not be more excited to listen to this one😁

  2. Adam May 27, 2021 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Amazing interview. I personally can relate to your story . I had a faith crisis and went through a divorce not long after. You have such a great sincere heart and seem to always be trying to be the best person you can. I’m telling you from personal experience that right now must seem very difficult but life is starting for you. Great things are ahead. You are so beautiful inside and out. I’m sure this story will inspire thousands. Thank you:)

  3. Fatfinger May 28, 2021 at 11:59 am - Reply

    This comment may be considered sexist or inappropriate by some, but I can’t imagine that Haleigh ever had a problem getting a date any time or anywhere. She is freakin’ gorgeous!!

  4. Brent May 28, 2021 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Haliegh’s story highlights some of the issues that took me out of the Church. Like Haliegh, I was promised so many amazing blessings from my parents, my local leaders, the general Church leadership, my mission president, the temple ceremony, and my patriarchal blessing. But only if I submitted myself to the Church and did everything the Church asked me to do. I did it to the best of my ability, but the blessings were not really in my life. I thought I was the one who was broken.

    At some point, I wondered if the Church had promised me something they couldn’t deliver.

    Being interested in experiments, I decided to stop doing some little things I should be doing. Home teaching stopped. I didn’t worry about praying as much. Nothing changed in my life. Nothing bad happened to me. I then stopped paying tithing. I had a few beers. I took my toddlers to the zoo instead of to primary. Still nothing bad happened to me. In fact, several really good things happened in my life.

    I realized the Church took credit for anything good that happened to me and blamed me for anything bad in my life.

    I used to think food on sale was a blessing for my faithfulness. Then one Sunday morning, my favorite beer was on special. My experiment ended that day with the conclusion that the Chuch has no ability to help me navigate this life. Then I thought, “if they can’t even help me in my life now, what are the chances they know what happens when we die?”

    But the mind worm is deep – which is why I’m still working through everything that was put into my brain from birth.

    • Fatfinger May 29, 2021 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      —-“My experiment ended that day with the conclusion that the Church has no ability to help me navigate this life. Then I thought, “if they can’t even help me in my life now, what are the chances they know what happens when we die?”.———

      That is such a HUGE observation. That is at the core of everything believing Mormons do and think. It’s such an incredible shame that they, nor members of other similar churches, are will to let themselves actually/objectively think.

  5. Panhandle Rag May 29, 2021 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks Haleigh, for your story, even if it is long. My wife and I of 53 years, 43 attending Church, found that sex was much better out of Church for our first 2 years of marriage and even before marriage than when we were in the Church. Too much leadership guidance on the right ways to be intimate in marriage. We both were baptized the same year and dropped out at the same time, not from the CES Letter but from Mormon Think and Mormon Stories. My wife’s past sex life was very similar to yours but I was never bothered with that, though the influence of the Church made me concerned about that over many years.

    Like your husband, we found that no longer believing has its challenges with family. We adopted a baby girl from the Church, raised her as a strong Mormon girl but that strong relationship that we had with her began to evaporate when we stopped attending. A few days ago, after struggling with this problem for almost nine years, I wrote her a letter, with my wife’s agreement, saying that this is our last letter. We have loved her and always will but she thinks our no longer believing is hardest on her, that we are destroying her family’s eternal dreams. She like any of my former friends don’t think our decision was hard on us, but just think we have been deceived and that we want to sin.

    After no longer attending for a year or so we gradually came to the place where we are part of America’s 26% unaffiliated with religion and we are happier for our decision.

  6. VFanRJ May 30, 2021 at 8:32 am - Reply

    This past year Dehlin has put a label on the Church’s obligation to inform prospects and members about its history and operations … informed consent. This is an enormous blindspot for the Church and its apologists. During this past decade the Church’s motivation to talk provide information about its history was to “inoculate” its members, not to inform them. Their motivation came from self preservation, not from a moral obligation to inform those who I’m requesting money and time.

  7. Gideon May 30, 2021 at 9:28 am - Reply


    Thank you for the compassion and empathy you expressed towards missionaries with mental health issues that come home early. I would like to share a story about my best friend that nearly died on his mission. This story also illustrates how dangerous it is for parents to allow children to be indoctrinated by the Church.

    My best friend and his widowed mother worked hard to save money for his mission. He was called to a Mexican mission and soon after he arrived he starting having knee problems from tracting. When he told his zone leaders and mission president, they dismissed his complaints and told him he needed more faith to be healed. Of course, his injury worsened and he needed surgery. After seeking help again from the mission office, they fetched him from his area and locked him up for weeks in a dark mission office storage room. Worse than solitary confinement in federal prison, they refused him access to writing letters, phone calls or medical treatment.

    He eventually escaped long enough to make a call to his mother. It took immense work on her part to get the church mission office to respond. Eventually his mission president, without his consent, forced him to go to a unknown doctor. They offered him no choices or assurances to the medical competence of their doctor. After the surgery it was back to the cell in the mission office for ‘recovery’.

    My friend had great faith in the church, prophet and Book of Mormon. He had spent years preparing for his ‘glorious call’. The trauma of being ridiculed by his own mission president and put in solitary confinement caused him to have a psychotic break and he cut his wrists.

    As horrible as this story was, what happened next really revealed the nature of Church towards his widowed mother. When he returned early he was admitted to a psychiatric unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Even with his mother’s insurance, the cost was thousands of dollars more than they could afford. The Church and mission department refused to help. They financially abandoned his mother and refused to defray the costs. It was a silent excommunication of sorts for both of them. Now that he was no longer the fearless Saturday’s warrior and full-time missionary, they allowed the Widow and her son to financially languish.

    The New Testament is clear about the special place that Widows and their Children occupy in the teachings of Christ himself. In many ways, the money spent on my friend’s mission and his therapy represented the widows mite. It was everything they had (and more). In their desperate hour of need the suits and ties that call themselves Prophets, Apostles and mission leaders failed to lead by example and had little or no compassion for the widow.

    Soon after, his mother started rallying her church friends to help her petition the church for help, but the bishop, stake president and mission department refused. Only when she hired a lawyer did they finally and reluctantly agree to pay the balance after her insurance was billed. It took years for my friend to put his life together again.

    This experience showed me very clearly the dangers that exist for mothers and their children in being members of the church. The false reality and narrative the church promotes can cause psychosis against the the harsh realities of their abuse towards their own members. If the church cannot use people then those people, their welfare and lives mean nothing to the church.

    I am grateful to you and so many of John’s other guests for the way you all show so much courage and compassion even after going through so much struggle in your personal lives. Thank you!

  8. Exupery May 30, 2021 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Read CES. In March ? This is all very new to her and the interview was painful to watch knowing that the train wreck is ahead of her and not behind her. I hope she will afford her husband the same understanding she seeks, he was burdened by purity culture and the shame cycle too. “His issues” are not uncommon both in the church but also without as this generation is dealing with technology that has far outpaced society’s ability to adjust. The grass is not greener on the other side of the hill. Go slow in the decision process when children are involved. And remember, one sided counseling can’t help a marriage because it will always bias the counselor in your favor. Bring your husband to the sessions before making permanent decisions.

    Best wishes

  9. Rob May 31, 2021 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Loved this episode. The undue influence and lack of informed consent throughout her story was so relatable to my own experience. The cycles of shame and dependency that many of us were stuck in is heartbreaking. So grateful for her vulnerability in sharing her story.

  10. Peter Popoff June 1, 2021 at 2:26 am - Reply

    The Church is not a bad place to raise your kids. Just don’t take any callings. Church will only be two hours per Sunday. Mormonism can’t exalt you, nor can it damn you. If your husband is a good man, a provider, doesn’t beat you, doesn’t cheat, then you should really try to hang on to him. There is NO REASON to tell your kids that you don’t believe in the BOM, until they are old enough to understand what you mean.

  11. Exupery June 1, 2021 at 4:57 am - Reply

    I think the moderator was concerned about my first comment because it was too critical in tone, please consider this rewrite….

    The first phase of self awakening can be very difficult. I relived some of the pain I felt as I transitioned out of Mormonism as I listened to this interview, I can imagine the tough days that lay ahead for her. From my experience, it’s best to move slowly and allow others time to process their experiences at their own rate. We don’t have to leave behind any relationships simply because of differences in theological belief. It helps to remember that before our awakening, we were in the same worldview as our family who remain believing members. It takes a lot of time to process the changes , on both sides, but a happy median can be found on the other side.

    Best wishes.

  12. Chaise June 7, 2021 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Maybe I missed something and I don’t meant to offend. Are Haleigh’s books still being sold, and sold in church book stores? I hope that is not the case. The church uses the book to persuade those who have left to go back, and it gives hope to our friends and family that we will go back. This mentality is hard for those of us who have chosen to leave and constantly battle with those close to us about our choices and beliefs.

    I hope as part of her very sincere apology, she also takes the action to no longer be associated with her book.

  13. charles adams June 14, 2021 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Finally, a Brave Woman with common sense and a beautiful spirit; Read the Bible which is the only Truth

    • Doug Fox July 23, 2021 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Yes Charles, As Jesus put it “Thy Word is Truth.” This is what we all need, an eternal reference point — True Revelation from God — by which the human mind can properly interpret reality. It gives us a solid place to stand when God reveals Himself and His creation to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. If anybody, even an angel from heaven (i.e. the good guys) comes along preaching another gospel, let it be accursed!

  14. Sam October 9, 2021 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Haliegh,
    Thank you for sharing your experience, and so openly. Life is adversity imbrued by malice. It’s the sum-up of this world, regardless of station, wealth, or status…so…even with all the painful cruelty, harsh wrong done unto you – which is considerable and very heartbreaking to listen to – I would take your story any day.

  15. Roger January 18, 2023 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Haleigh, you are a sweet girl, but I’m afraid that you are jumping from one cult into another. Relationships on the rebound can be problematic. Take it slow

  16. Randall Craig Wall September 24, 2023 at 12:00 am - Reply


    We left the LDS church Easter 2023…

    I have served two missions and my wife one and I have been a branch president, Young Men’s, Elders quorum president, High priest group leader etc. and have held most ward level and a few stake level callings. We have had dinner with the Oaks and Rasbands and my kids played with apostles’ grandkids.. Fully immersed in the LDS faith.

    We couldn’t find anywhere to hang our hat as far as gospel truths in the LDS faith. They hide, change, or lie about history and excommunicate those like Michael Quinn who bring it to light.

    I spent about six years (3.5 seriously) studying the church theology, history, and did so with a number of historians looking at original documents, not just books or CES letters and there was nothing that I could hang my hat on as true.

    My family has withdrawn and doesn’t quite know what to do with me at this point. When I showed my father the 1904/06 senate record where Joseph F. Smith said it was “custom and not a revelation that selected an LDS president” he yelled at me saying “Why are you showing me this?!”

    We are happier than ever because we are free in Christ. I still wear the garment tops because hey, they are comfortable and long. But we were baptized into the Seventh Day Adventist faith last Saturday after more than 9 months of study and their having we felt the best Christian theology.

    We are glad you didn’t become an atheist.. God bless!

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