Aaron Eckhart and other famous ex-Mormons

My friends and I stumbled upon this LDS seminary video from the early ’90s and I must share it with you! Look who stars in it:

That, my friends, is actor Aaron Eckhart (from “Thank You for Smoking” and “The Dark Knight”). Funny stuff. Turns out Eckhart was raised LDS, served a mission in France and Switzerland, and graduated from BYU in film studies. He no longer identifies as Mormon, however.

Just for fun, here is a list of some other ex-Mormon celebrities. I’ll add more as I find them.

Amy Adams

Eliza Dushku

Ryan Gosling

Jewel

Katherine Heigl

Paul Walker

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About Jon Adams

I have my bachelors in sociology and political science, having recently graduated from Utah State University. I co-founded SHAFT, but have also been active in the College Democrats and the Religious Studies Club. I was born in Utah to a loving LDS family. I left Mormonism in high school after discovering some disconcerting facts about its history. Like many ex-Mormons, I am now an agnostic atheist. I am amenable to being wrong, however. So should you disagree with me about religion (or anything, really), please challenge me. I welcome and enjoy a respectful debate. I love life, and am thankful for those things and people that make life worth loving: my family, my friends, my dogs, German rock, etc. Contact: [email protected]

19 thoughts on “Aaron Eckhart and other famous ex-Mormons

  1. Is it odd that the first think I noticed is the shot at the end is impossible? There isn’t a single spot that shot with the Ogden Temple could be shot from. (Sorry, native Ogdenism is showing :P)

    It does make me glad I never signed up for institute or anything else after graduating from high school.

  2. Man that is like my top 7 hottest people of all time list…
    Eliza Dushku and Ryan Gosling yum!

    Oh and Katherine has said she might want to recommit to Mormonism later in life.

  3. Two of Eckhart’s best roles are in two of the best American films of the 1990s — “In the Company of Men” (1997) and, extending the lacerating analysis to both sexes, “Your Friends and Neighbors” (1998) — directed by fellow BYU alum Neil LaBute, who also wrote the Foreward to a new translation of Lermontov’s “A Hero of Our Time”.

  4. Eliza Dushku?! Holy crap! I wonder if any of these current actors are still practicing.

    And I don’t know if anyone knows this, but Richard Dutcher, who is said to have given birth to the mormon cinema, has left the LDS church. I thought that would be an interesting fact to include ;)

  5. Uhm, does the fact that they left make them even sexier? I say hell to the yes. Mmmm.

    I had no idea. You always hear about the celebrity members, but never the celebrity ex-members. Obvs, but still.

    Thank you for this. Super sexy eye candy, for sure.

  6. Eliza Dushku was at the Mormon Women’s Forum Counterpoint Conference in the UofU student union yesterday (10/23). She was there to watch her mother, well-known Mormon feminist Judy Dushku, get an award. She hung out at the entire conference and listened to discussions of the future of Mormon feminism and the role of sex in the lives of Mormon women. She was gracious, involved–and even more beautiful close up than she is on TV. (Plus, she’s TINY. Really, really TINY.) Those of us who are “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans had a very hard time not geeking out.

  7. Very interesting. Katherine Heigl is one of my favorite actresses. I am 17 and LDS and while I don’t always make the best decisions I love the church and its principles. While it doesn’t matter to me whether or not a person is “Mormon” its awesome to know that they have some form of religion and morals (whether LDS or not). Makes me have way more respect for them then I already did.

  8. the most important thing to keep in mind about the beautiful, talented folks in this list is that they are EX-mormons. they might have been born into families that took them to church and through the lds upbringing, but when they had freedom of choice as adults, they chose to NOT be lds. it goes to show that the idea that your life will be crap if you leave “the church” is b.s.

    furthermore, i’ve noticed a lot of the lists online of “famous mormons” include a host of people who were only members for a brief time of their childhoods or have since left the religion as adults. how annoying would it be to be touted as a “famous member” of a religion that you are not a part of just to boost that religion’s profile?

  9. For me, the question of whether mormonism is true or not has become an aside. I joined the church 20 years ago, persuaded by a mixture of reason and spiritual experience. Since then i’ve served a mission, read widely, and found that there does appear to be a number of troubling facts in the church history – but recently i concluded, i simply don’t care.
    I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it up, or if he is telling 100% the truth. Mormonism was my last religious gambit – i grew up a protestant, and when i look at everything from born againism, to islam it makes mormonism look positively logical.
    For me, the conflict came to a head with the realisation that the church and the principles offer a really great way to live. I want to live in a peaceful and loving civilisation. I want to share my life with people who have the same values. I’m happy being LDS, happy going to church, because i asked myself who the better man was, the person who sought eternal life and did good and kept the commandments to recieve this reward, or the open minded person who could not confirm the truth but really wanted a better world, opportunity for all, and to love one another. I’m active because i respect the values, i love the culture, and yes i hope it is true as i don’t see any faith based alternatives out there.
    That aside, i’m convinced there is a supreme being. I’ve had too many odd statistically improbable experiences not to think something greater is going on out there. I hope it’s true, i want it to be true, but if it isn’t i’m not going to get lost in the debates, i’m going to live a happy life, love my family, do good to others, have ‘faith and hope’ in the existence of a God, and wish everyone else peace and happiness.
    As for the anti mormons that attack the church, i wonder why they waste their lives, what do they profit from such aggressive attacks. If it is false, leave it alone and let people discover that themselves – handing out leaflets outside the temples just smacks of obsessiveness. It made me wonder what kind of society they would have if the church announced it wasn’t true, and millions of Utah saints suddenly thought that adultery, corruption, theft, murder, gambling, drinking, drugs, and other such crimes were now on the table. Who wants that, would these people be happier? Not me, i love being LDS, if its true, the fantastic, if it’s not, well i’m happy. I wish you all well.

    • Darren A,

      I, too, was once in your shoes. I grew up in a devoutly lds household and was pretty content in the church for many years. When I started to learn about church history and study things on my own, I also had doubts. I thought that staying in the church while I sorted out my doubts, if but for social reasons at the very least, could do no harm. However, over time, I came to see what a drain ignoring my own inner voice of truth in order to follow the church was becoming. I felt like I was a compromised person and that sharing testimony was next to impossible without sacrificing a clear conscience. I read an old Tal Bachman interview where he said something about how wrong it would be to set the example for his son of not standing up for the truth by going along with the church, while doubting it deep down. Basically, teaching him to be a tacit liar. This struck a nerve with me. I’ve since resigned and although I miss certain positive aspects of the church (some of which you’ve listed above), I have never been happier and more at peace than ever before. I know standing up for the truth will always be the right thing for me to do.

      While you may not have found it in any of the religions you’ve searched through yet, I have no doubt that you will find a faith that suits you and that you find to be true someday…but I doubt you’ll be able to search for it while wrapped up in the busywork of the morg.

      Peace.

    • Daren,

      Amen to you. I care but then i don’t about some of the history stuff. Yes, logically, the church makes sense. There are things I do not understand and perhaps will never know. However, part of life is living with contentment and trust that all will work out. Part of the reason I go to church is because my wife and kids enjoy going. How can I deny them that opportunity if they want to go. Where my family goes, I follow to be with them…that is part of being a grown up. Do I learn and feel the spirit when I go, yes. My relationship with God is personal and I go to worship him not to satisfy some requirement for being LDS.

  10. I got here by searching for something about Amy Adams, and saw her name and LDS.

    What someone chooses to do with their spiritual life is between God and them. Like politics, religion should be a private matter, discussed by that person and whomever s/he may want to include. It’s not our place to gossip or speculate.

    I hope each pubic person finds the path they seek.

  11. I have come across this post completely by accident while searching for answers in a situation that my family is experiencing. My daughter is a National Merit Honor Finalist, #1 in her class, Mentor to incoming students, completely dedicated to her studies, her community and her friends. She does not drink, party or associate with those who do not share her values. She’s been dating a Mormon boy for about 10 months. She is a Christian, but not of the Mormon Faith. Her boyfriend shares her values and is a great guy – they care deeply for each other and are committed to having a positive relationship while they are in High School. They both know that he’ll be going on his mission trip after high school and will be attending BYU. They both know that their relationship will most likely dissolve once they are out of high school simply because of their separations. The biggest block to their relationship right now is the boy’s parents don’t want him to have a girlfriend for more than a couple of months. Their reasoning is “why spend time and/or money on a girl who isn’t going to be your wife?”. His parents are creating an atmosphere where this poor boy feels oppressed and unhappy in his family life because they’re so controlling and overbearing. He’s a normal teenager! What advice can I give him? I don’t want to encourage him to go against his parents wishes, but he’s miserable and just now found out he’s going to be forced to go to a Mormon councelor. Any help is appreciated, my heart is breaking for him and my daughter who are dealing with this during their senior year of high school.

    • I was in a similar situation, and the only advice i could give is that he is an adult, or soon to be one and at some point you need to start making decisions for yourself. I have made decisions that my parents aren’t happy with (military, people i have dated, running an atheist club at USU) but since my parents truly love me they accept my decisions, and that is all that matters. Parents love their children, and they may not agree with their decision, and they will suggest stuff that they believe will make their child happy but in the end its your life and you need to start taking responsibility. It may take time, but one of the core philosophy of the LDS church is love, and i do not believe any parent would abandon their child over something so trivial.

      We are the product of our experiences, each one touches us in and molds us into the person we are. My ex-girlfriend taught me many thing; How to love; How to compromise; How to hate. With out her there would be no way that i could love my girlfriend the way I do, or except her choice to move 20 hours away for school. Though my relationship with my ex didn’t work out, and caused me grief and pain, it was instrumental in creating the person i am today.

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