• Leaving the Saints

  • How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
  • By: Martha Beck
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (493 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Leaving the Saints is an unforgettable memoir about one woman's spiritual quest and journey toward faith. As "Mormon royalty" within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church's high elders, - known as the apostles - and her existence was framed by their strict code of conduct. Wearing her sacred garments, she married in a secret temple ceremony - but only after two Mormon leaders ascertained that her "past contained no flirtation with serious sins, such as committing murder or drinking coffee". She went to church faithfully with the other brothers and sisters of her ward. When her son was born with Down syndrome, she and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Provo, Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace them.  

However, soon after Martha began teaching at Brigham Young University, she began to see firsthand the Church's ruthlessness as it silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church's most prominent authorities. This book chronicles her difficult decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply.

This beautifully written, inspiring memoir explores the powerful yearning toward faith. It offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world's most secretive religions while telling a profoundly moving story of personal courage, survival, and the transformative power of spirituality.

©2005 Martha Beck (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The book is full of Beck's laugh-out-loud hyperbolic wit and exquisitely written insights." (Publishers Weekly)

“Martha Beck’s riveting memoir teaches us more about love, spirituality, trauma, truth telling, and hope than all the self-help books combined. It is one of the bravest, most achingly honest books I’ve read in years. Leaving the Saints is a priceless gift.” (Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger

“A courageous, touching, and beautifully written spiritual journey of the heart. I applaud Martha’s candidness and perseverance in her steadfast pursuit of the power of love.” (Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Positive Energy and Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing

What listeners say about Leaving the Saints

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Review by a non-Mormon

If I were a devout Mormon woman, I would be seething over this book. However, I am not a Mormon and still feel quite upset with the way this author takes her "dirty laundry" out for the whole world to read. She implies that the Mormon church is the one that made her father (supposedly) abuse her. I can't think of any religion that has a perfect history. This lady takes things too far. She is sarcastic and is constantly reminding the listener that she has a Ph.D., as though this legitimizes her claims. I feel sorry for her family. She does the craziest things (like chopping down trees in the middle of the night), while her husband and small children are neglected. If Mormon men were so horrible, why did her own Mormon husband put up with her antics? I wanted to listen to this book before visiting Utah to learn something about the "Saints." Instead of siding with her, I think I actually disagree with her. Who knew? Her 9O yr. old father shouldn't have had to put up with all her accusations at that age. It sounds almost evil of her. Her diatribe pleads with the listener that abuse victims should be open about their history, even if it took place decades ago. As the daughter of an abused mother, I wish she never had told me what happened to her in her youth. It never helped me, it only made me angry, and it didn't help my mom either. She grew more depressed in her older years by reminiscing about her horrible childhood. Get the therapy and then REALLY forget about it, I say! Don't live in the past, Martha!! Live, let live and enjoy what you have in the moment.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Superb FICTIONAL account

One star for the effort.
I became skeptical when her "repressed memories" were discovered. How many psychologists lost their licenses to practice or are in prison for this "diagnosis?" These "repressed memory" cases in the 1990s were debunked by qualified Psychologists shortly after they became vogue and ruined hundreds of innocent peoples lives.
I'm no expert in theology but this is an apparently another in a long list of intellectuals who is incapable of living the tenets of her religion and, rather than simply choosing another direction in life, has chosen to twist truths and cry "poor me" in an attempt to discredit the organization.
Come on Ms. Beck, move on and write something constructive.

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Decide for yourself

I found this to be a riveting story and as a third generation Utah Mormon I found her depiction of Mormon culture to be right on. I was raised in Utah, graduated from BYU and served a mission for the LDS Church, and in my opinion, Martha Beck is just telling it like it is. Anyone wanting a glimpse inside the faith will find her account interesting and perhaps disturbing, but just because you don't like the message why shoot the messenger? I found her personal revelations believable and backed up with strong physical evidence despite family denials. I think people should listen to her well written story and decide for themselves.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't Bother

This book is a pitiful attempt by a disgruntled ex-mormon to place the blame for her own shortcomings on her religious upbringing. It is nothing more than sideways slap at the Mormons. Don't waste good reading time on this book.

41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

What does her family think about this one?

A quick search at google for "Martha Beck's family" will retrieve her 7 siblings response to her book. They all seem to disagree about this being classified as non-fiction.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

A review from a non Mormon who hated this book.

I'm not sure why I listened all the way through this mess of a book. It is full of new age woo, and Martha is no more reasonable (and probably less trustworthy) than your average Mormon who thinks that Joseph had the Book of Mormon translated directly from gods gold plates. I highly doubt that Martha was abused by her father no matter how much she "believes". This book is about 95% Martha's self obsessed drivel and about 5% interesting info about the Mormons and her Mormon life. Pass, and save yourself hours of your life and a few bucks to boot.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Why the split in ratings?

I found the book enlightening and a little scary. Riveting story, effective and engaging narration. In short, exactly what I seek in a recorded book.

I'm also not a Mormon. As a reader/listener of this book without an ax to grind, I wonder about the negative reviews I saw here. Was there a separate agenda? Hard to say, but worth consideration.

Order the book and decide for yourself.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, honest, sad, wonderful

Mormons won't like this book but it's absolutely brilliant and honest. This is an insight into the Mormon church that the world needs to know. Maybe they'll make some changes based on Martha's honest story.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 06-04-05

Who's next on Martha's List?

I had to get this book just to see for myself; Ms Beck accuses her father of the most vial and evil things a man could do to his child. I had to investigate her story.

In her initial chapter, she writes several times of her total confusion, total doubt and totally not knowing the truth and then tries to convince the world of the truth in her words. Who in their right mind would follow a woman who admittedly lied about her faith and trust in God over and over, and in the same breath repeatedly admits she can?t separate truth from fiction? She's not credible.

I listened to her story only because of who she was in the LDS community. Forget that she's lost her pathway in the Church and that someday, when truth matters, rather than her popularity and money, the forgiveness of the earthly father, whom she so evilly abused with these lies and accusations may be important enough for her to finally tell the real story.

You'll find some truth about the Mormons mixed with these stories but it is all twisted up with her story-telling so don't take anything to the bank on Mormons.

Since she's published her book, her ENTIRE family has publically stated that her story is total fiction. Which is where I'd have to put my trust.

Some of her stories are "funny" but when you measure them up against the harm she did to her family and most of all her father, in his final years, it's only sad story. My hat's off to her family for keeping the cork on this bottle until now, but given what she's done to dear old dad ... each of them had better look out too.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Honest and guttsy

Martha Beck's personal story was gripping and fascinating. I suppose she will be shunned by her family for her honest account, but it needed to be told. I admired her exploration and objectivity in discussing secret family matters. Thank you for writing when most people would have stuffed it in their emotions.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Pen
  • 12-27-18

Beautifully written memoir on overcoming trauma

This book not just about surviving abuse and the consequences of a traumatic childhood, & not just about the inner workings and foundations of the Mormon church, but is very much about finding the paths of healing, grace, courage, forgiveness, love, inner growth, spirituality and truth.

An uplifting, encouraging and magnificent book about learning to trust in oneself.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David J James
  • 12-18-20

Writing from the perspective of an

Evangelical, Trinity believing Christian. I have looked at Mormonism a number of times and one thing I have noted is how, unlike lapsed members of some other cults and sects outside the church, they do not tend to become Christians.

Therefore when I saw the title "leaving Mormonism and finding my faith" I was hoping that Martha would be an exception and would now be in a mainstream Christian church.

I was not surprised but only disappointed and confirmed in my observation of the phenomenon when it transpires that Martha has come to a faith rather informed by Buddhism and other similar areas of thought than the Bible.

This book is of value to the Evangelical reader anyway as it shows us more from the inside how the Mormon religion works and what it really is, and how we need to watch out in our own churches not to make similar mistakes.

Beyond which this is a harrowing account of child sexual abuse and denial by the perpetrator, which I don't presume Mormons have any monopoly on. Be ready for that, if you want to read this book.

On the plus side it was a well narrated and we'll written book with an idiosyncratic but enjoyable style of writing with many humorous observations. It was the kind of humour in adversity one usually associates with Jewish culture. I certainly enjoyed that part, as well as new information on what it is like inside which was largely confirmatory of accounts other ex Mormons have given but which at first hand seem like exaggeration but clearly they are not.

The devil had a field day on Joseph Smith a bit like he had on that other receiver of dubious revelations Mohammed. Interesting how many parallels there are, including polygamy and violence. The end of it all is, when Mormons see how duped they have been by the phoney revelation, they are inoculated and cannot be reached easily by the true revelation, writing this remember mainly for other Christians. So they need our prayers and our love to get them into the fold of God when they have been so traumatised by a false Church and its weird teachings which nonetheless are intertwined with Christian scriptures, teachings, even our hymns, that they have autoimmune reactions against Christianity also. And that's exactly what the devil was up to when he whispered in Smith's urim and thummim-like ear.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee
  • 01-16-13

spiritual and psycohological autobiography

I knew nothing about Mormonism or Martha Beck before listening to this audiobook, though I've since gathered that she is well known in the US - unsurprisingly with notoriety in the Mormon world. I chose it out of interest in the spiritual autobiography of which the subtitle indicates.
What the title doesn't indicate is that the book is as much about sexual abuse as it is about religion and faith. Had I known this I wouldn't have chosen it, but though I was shocked and upset by the content on this subject, I'm glad I listened to this book because it's not just about surviving abuse and the consequences of a traumatic childhood, nor just about the (also disturbing) inner workings and foundations of the Mormon church, but is very much about finding the paths of healing, grace, courage, forgiveness, love, and truth.
I think Martha and I would have to part company on some of the New Age-y aspects of spirituality that the synopses of some of her more current books indicate, nevertheless, I found this book spiritually uplifting and challenging and I'm glad I listened to it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • CD
  • 04-16-11

An interesting and well written book

This book is very interesting and for someone who knew almost nothing about the Mormon religion, it was fascinating to hear about it and my attention was captured all the way through. I would discourage anyone considering reading this book from reading the whole synopsis as it gives to much away - it spoils some of the shock and surprise and that is a pity.
The book is wonderfully narrated and that makes it probably an easier book to listen to rather than read since the author tries to explain some complex religious ideas and discusses her very intense thoughts. There is a lovely thread of humour that runs through the book and I would recommend this book to people who are looking for an eye opening read that is very well written.

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