Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Do Mormons leave the Church because they ‘got offended’?

Offended

As many of you know, last year I embarked on a major research study of four generations of Mormons and former Mormons. With the help of a number of social scientists, especially Benjamin Knoll, I’ve been able to gather nationally representative data that begins to shed some light on a number of questions that pertain to Mormon life today—including why approximately one-third of people leave the Church.

Do these people leave primarily because they’re upset by historical inconsistencies or problems, like Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy or questions about seer stones? I’ve heard this explanation from many people, especially those on the left who see the Church’s fluctuating approach to those complex issues as a sign of deception.

Or do they leave because they got “offended” by something someone said at church? This is the narrative Elder David A. Bednar focused on in General Conference a decade ago, and it’s been a prominent feature of LDS internal discourse ever since. I hear variations on it often, usually from current members who are explaining why people they know left the Church.

Well, guess what? Statistically, there is some merit in both explanations.

But for younger Mormons and women, there’s considerably more in Bednar’s approach.

We surveyed 541 former Mormons (in addition to more than 1100 current Mormons who did not, obviously, receive this question). We asked them to name their top three reasons for leaving the Church, choosing from nearly 30 options that were broken down into two main categories:

  • Doctrinal/institutional reasons (concerns about the Book of Abraham, say, or the lack of financial transparency about what happens with tithing money) and
  • Personal/social reasons (like being excluded, not feeling able to trust the leadership, or losing a testimony of the “one true church”)

Overall, personal and social reasons dominated the list rather than specific doctrinal or historical problems people had.

In the sample as a whole, the top answer was “I could no longer reconcile my personal values and priorities with those of the Church,” closely followed by “I stopped believing there was one true church.” These findings are very consistent with a 2016 PRRI study of the “Nones” (people with no religious affiliation), whose top reason for disengaging from their religion was simply that they stopped believing its teachings.

Generationally, there were interesting and significant differences. Among Millennials, the top five answers were:

  1. “I felt judged or misunderstood.”
  2. [tied for first] “I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth surrounding controversial or historical issues.”
  3. “The Church’s positions on LGBT issues.”
  4. “I could no longer reconcile my personal values and priorities with those of the Church.”
  5. “I drifted away from Mormonism.”

#3 is, to me, especially interesting. LGBT issues did not even crack the top ten for former Mormons over age 52. For Millennials it was the third most important reason for leaving, and among Gen Xers it was sixth.

There’s also a gender divide. Women are almost twice as likely as men to say they left Mormonism because they felt judged or misunderstood. In the overall sample of all generations, 40% of women cited judgment as one of their top three factors, while only 22% of men did.

So there’s some ballast to Elder Bednar’s assumption that many people leave Mormonism because they become offended. However, I take issue with some of the trivial examples the Church provides for what this might look like. Here are three examples Bednar gave in his 2006 Conference talk:

  • “Several years ago a man said something in Sunday School that offended me, and I have not been back since.”
  • “No one in this branch greeted or reached out to me. I felt like an outsider. I was hurt by the unfriendliness of this branch.”
  • “I did not agree with the counsel the bishop gave me. I will not step foot in that building again as long as he is serving in that position.”

Compare that to these write-in reasons that some female survey respondents provided when they were given the opportunity to explain more about why they left Mormonism:

  • “When I was divorcing my husband because of abuse and infidelity, his temple recommend was renewed, even though I knew he was drinking and sleeping with prostitutes (and beating me and my children . . .). I was not allowed to renew mine, because I might fall again before I was married.”
  • “Death in the family and no real empathy.”
  • “Lack of assistance for domestic violence and automatic support for the male abuser.”
  • “As a woman in the military I was treated coldly and shunned by most of my peers as if what I was doing was wrong.”

Were they offended? Clearly. But were they not justified in being so?

In the Church, the accusation that “you’re choosing to be offended” is trotted out to diminish others and explain away legitimate grievances. Dr. Julie Hanks wrote a very balanced article on this for Meridian Magazine last year; as she put it,

It seems that all too often, the “choosing to be offended” card is used to judge, invalidate someone else’s experience, to shame or chastise him/ her, and perhaps even to effectively end discussion. It can also be used as a shield to avoid self-reflecting on whether or not we’ve acted offensively and need to make amends.

Sometimes, she notes, someone “choosing to be offended” is actually a healthy and emotionally appropriate response to a harmful situation.

One of the many things that Millennials inside and outside of the LDS Church can teach us is that there’s a lot of wisdom in Christ’s admonition to “judge not, lest ye yourselves be judged.”

If we don’t heed that wisdom, the Church stands to lose even more of its brightest and best.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

65 Comments

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  • All five of your top reasons for drifting away apply to me. I have felt judged and misjudged at Church for most of my life. I grew up in a home that was socially and politically liberal and yet Mormon. I got heat at church for my parents’ liberal views. I tried as a young adult to be a “better Mormon” by adopting more socially conservative social and political positions. I genuinely liked Ronald Reagan and did not like Jimmy Carter as a young adult, which made that easier during the Reagan years, but as quickly as Reagan was gone, so was my enthusiasm for social and political conservatism and I started drifting back.

    Having a mixture of liberals and conservatives in my extended family found me agreeing with the liberals and disagreeing with the conservatives more and more as I got older. Your top 5 reasons for leaving the Church could be a chronology of my disaffection with the church. I have LGBT cousins who are far more important to me than what the Church claims on the issue, and I have read the report in the media on the Dehlin-Bradshaw studies, showing how wrong the Church has been on the whole “pray it away” nonsense that is still their policy toward LGBT. At this point, I am proud of my LDS heritage but do not see a reason to ever return to activity in the Church, and I am a baby boomer (age 62).

  • Having grown up in a religious (not Mormon) household with parents and siblings who proclaimed their belief widely I feel that the temptation to downgrade the potential for an aggressive response caused by one’s answer to “Why do you not believe as we do” can be considerable.

    How much easier to say (and subsequently to convince oneself) that some anonymous person upset me rather than, however it may be dressed up, I think your beliefs are daft. Many will want to continue the mutual support of family and friends and will be naturally reluctant to push them away unnecessarily. By moving the reason to an outsider the family is less offended and the damage to mutually precious relationships may be minimised.

    I wonder if the researchers allowed for this shift of responsibility, and if so how they accomplished this,

  • I found myself effected by the history, however the behavior of other Mormons had an effect also. Not necessarily behavior directed towards me, but just “herd” behavior of fearful politics and superstition. But really for me? We are an evolved bi-pedal hominid, Adam and Eve never existed, therefore there was no fall and no need for an atonement or a savior figure. This is a very simple “for this there comes this” for me, and not sure how anybody gets around it.

  • I haven’t left yet, but the November 5 LGBT policy has “broken my shelf”. And I know that unless the Church changes in this area, my children won’t survive. For them, homosexuality is a non-issue.

  • I’m disappointed and confused by the way this question was structured. I don’t feel as though “losing testimony of the ‘one true church'” should have been counted as a personal/social reason, rather than something historical/doctrinal. For what reasons do people lose their belief if not for historical/doctrinal reasons? The false division will skew the results.

  • Mormon is a man made belief founded upon the wind in trying to imitate the Word. There is one Gospel and only one God, whereas the Mormon tradition has deceived the true believers in following after a book founded upon man. The Sacred Scriptures belong to the Root of Jesse and the Offspring of David, for there is no other.

  • I was a convert to the Church at 16, although I wasn’t baptized until 18 because of lack of parental consent. My father was very abusive of me throughout my childhood. I was loved into the LDS Church. My best friend in high school was LDS. Most of my classes were filled with kids from the local ward and the second I showed the littlest interest, they were all my posse. One day I walked into a class and a book-sized white gift was on my chair. A few of them had chipped in and bought me my first copies of the Standard Works. They meant more to me than gold and I kept them many years.

    I moved away my senior year of high school to escape my father’s abuse. I started attending the branch where I lived and was baptized in the Gulf of Mexico on my 18th birthday. Two weeks later I was ordained a priest. When I graduated I moved to Utah, temporarily with the parents of one of my missionaries and later for over a year with an LDS foster family that gave me loving parents and 6 brothers and a sister.

    I was ordained an elder at 19 and called to a mission in MT & WY at 21. As an RM I stayed very active and worked hard to be involved with the Young Adults program in my So Cal Stake. I completed an AA degree in Mortuary Science and then a BA in Behavioral Science. When I completed my BA I was hired by Deseret Industries and supervised a department of mentally & physically handicapped adults.

    I received a Patriarchal Blessing. I received my own endowment in the Salt Lake Temple and have done more baptisms and endowments for the dead than I can count. I’ve attended the Provo (still my favorite for its design), Logan (pre-remodel), Manti, St George and Los Angeles Temples so many times I can still recite much of the dialogue by heart. I was even asked to consider a call to be a Temple worker.

    But I had a deep secret. Since I had been 5 or 6 I knew that I liked other boys and preferred a boyfriend to a girlfriend. That was why my father was abusive to me and why the LDS Church eventually excommunicated me. The moment everyone whom I had loved found out that I was gay, it all went to hell. And even though I hung around and was re-baptized, nothing was ever the same. I was treated like a pariah by most YAs, YWs knew I was gossiped about, said to be gay and wouldn’t even go on a group date with me. Every time an RM or another YM attempted to be my friend, busybodies had to run whisper in their ear (including adult priesthood holders) to stay away from me because I was only being friendly in return to groom them to eventually seduce them.

    A Church “psychologist” told me that I was attracted to men because, in my mind, I believed being involved with men was less sinful than being premaritally involved with women. He encouraged me to move somewhere my previous excommunication wasn’t known and date women and get married and I would be cured!

    The ostracism caused me excruciating mental, psychological & spiritual pain and prompted me to deeply reexamine why I became a Mormon. I had to admit to myself that it was because I felt loved and accepted, not because I was deeply committed to the esoteric aspects of the Church’s theology and history. I could recite a sincere & convicted testimony to contacts in the mission field and later at a Fast Meeting, but I realize that it was a rote profession of faith because it was what I needed to say to be on the inside.

    I had studied Behavioral Science (psychology, sociology & behavioral minors) to primarily understand myself. I now believed that I wasn’t disordered or a victim of the Fall. That my sexuality was part of the natural diversity of Human kind, in essence that there was nothing wrong with me. And I decided that to live a healthy and happy life that I needed to leave the LDS Church and embrace myself as a child of God who loves and accepts me as I am.

    I left the Church at 27, but was still called to a religious life. I went to graduate seminary and received a Master of Theology (4 year) and have spent many years ministering to the LGBTQ community in the Metropolitan Community Churches. I have also outlived two-long term relationships. In my 30s, between my two relationships I legally adopted a teenaged boy as a single parent. He is now 45 years old. Last week I celebrated my 63rd year.

    I still hold a deep fondness for many of my LDS former friends, but they aren’t interested in any sort of continuing friendship on any level. Last year I contacted someone whom I had loved very much during my years in the Church and had felt very close with. He had been away at BYU when things fell apart for me and wasn’t part of what occurred. When he answered the phone and realized that I was calling, his words were, “I’m surprised that you are still alive. I thought that all of you faggots were child molesters and either died in prison or of AIDS.” Then he hung up.

    I think that I would very much fall into the group who left for personal/social reasons, in spite of also having a historical/doctrinal aspect.

  • I think “personal/social reasons” are the most valid of reasons, despite the implication of Bednar’s talk. Every organization has its historical flaws. What’s important is its effect on one’s life now. If an institution isn’t adding to one’s life in a significant way, or especially is having a negative impact, it should be eliminated. It’s the most rational response, far more rational than obsessing over whether Brigham Young was racist.

  • It really comes down to two things I believe at the heart of it all : testimony and community. You go to church for one of those two reasons or both. When both of those fall apart there is simply no value in continuing to attend. If your testimony breaks down but you still have a strong community and tribe you are likely to still find value and stay. If you have a strong testimony but no community you’re likely to find value and you stay. When there is no community and no testimony there is no point – simple. All the other stuff breaks down why we lose our testimonies or why we lose faith in the community.

  • Truth is that there’s probably no god(s).

    Unless you have some irrefutable evidence for your religious belief (if so please share it) it is as irrational as the belief you decry.

  • Your story hits home. A lot of LGBT Mormons and ex-Mormons speak of being gossiped about within the Church over their sexual orientation. That’s why LDS Bishops should have to give a disclaimer about confessing anything personal to them; they are the worst gossipers in the world, if they choose to be. And the Church gives them carte blanche on the issue, so long as they claim that gossip was God-inspired.

  • Thanks for the usual anti-Mormon intrusion of holy roller patent-medicine Jesus talk. That sort of Wal-Mart religion gives actual faith in Christ a bad name.

  • Thank you for your posts. I make a point of reading them every week.

    BTW, being Mormon doesn’t stop at the exit door, not when it’s a multigenerational thing. It’s funny how even knowing about the rock in the hat does not keep me from liking Joseph Smith, whether he was a genuine prophet or just a clever con man. The new NBC re-imagination of the Wizard of Oz shows that America has empathy for the con man with a heart of gold. That’s something the detractors of Joseph Smith never quite understand. Thus, Joseph Smith’s story shaped my family history, plain and simple. He’s as much a part of my heritage as my actual ancestors are.

  • Your story is a very sad one, but you have come out of it a whole and healthy person, I hope, and seen the lies and fraud for what they so clearly are.

    I knew I was gay when I was three. I didn’t know what it was or what it meant, but I knew who I was. That “Church psychologist” was just too full of his own unwarranted faith in his highly imaginary superiority to actually educate himself.

    what your story does demonstrate is what I have been saying for decades, and have seen almost no contradictions to. This is all about a vicious, ancient, durable, and extremely deep seated prejudice, given the thinnest veneer of respectability by insisting it’s about gods word and sincere religious belief.

    It is not and never has been. Nor is it about morality.

    What is it about? It’s about how much the very subject of homosexuality frightens, fascinates, tantalizes, horrifies, titillates, arouses, attracts, offends, intrigues, moves, activates, and obsesses, oppresses, suppresses, depresses…

    a whole lot of heterosexuals…

    and a lot more homosexual-hating homosexuals who desperately wish they were heterosexual, but will never be…

    and who will do everything to deflect attention from themselves by attacking others, to exorcise their own demons by pretending that I am possessed. .

  • I was born into a Latter-day Saint home. My parents were mostly inactive during my formative years. I was active, served a mission, and married in the temple, excluding my parents. Later in life the fear, guilt, and shame of church participation became too uncomfortable to keep attending. I read a few books and learned “how” to think, instead of “what” to think.

    Wouldn’t is be great if there was a church culture whereby the leadership regularly encouraged members to “study it out” for themselves if it be right. A leader could say, “Read the scriptures and various books, talk to different members, non-members, and former members about their viewpoints. Ask people why they joined the church, didn’t join the church, or left it. Pray about it and form your own conclusions.”

    For too long I neglected my own conscience in favor of submitting to other people’s agendas they wanted me to live by and I replaced my judgment, conscience, and intellect with theirs. Eventually integrity meant more to me than conformity and pretending. I knew I had to face the hard truth instead of hiding from it so I choose to follow my own conscience, reasoning, and insight rather than preconceived notions, consciences of others, or traditions.

    Just because church leaders say things over the pulpit in general conference or that a book of religious scripture says certain things doesn’t mean one should roll over and accept them. In my opinion, part of gaining a “testimony” of the truthfulness of a church and its doctrine is vetting current and former church leaders and church governance for integrity, honesty, reliability and credibility. When there are mistakes, miscommunication, poor policy, etc., they should be proactively acknowledged and be transparent, instead of being hidden by a façade, spin or half-truths. Otherwise, it’s blind faith.

    My beliefs and moral compass are just as valid and important to me as I bet another person’s are to them.

  • I think the exit door from active participation is easiest for people with a strong sense of their own moral compass. I feel a sense of loss from leaving the Church, but no guilt or remorse. My moral compass works just fine all on its own without the judgmental preaching (or the boring sacrament meetings) that go with church attendance.

  • Mormonism offers but does not always live up to the promise of “community.” That’s why there is such an alarmingly high rate of teen and LGBT teen suicide in the state of Utah, and with similarly alarming rates in other neighboring states with very high LDS populations. The shunning that replacing communal embrace when someone “strays” from the Mormon sense of the “straight and narrow” can be shattering to anyone trying unsuccessfully to fit the Molly Mormon mold. And that mold is never a good fit for someone who is socially liberal or LGBT. My two sons, both social liberals, told me as young adults that they could not see me staying with the Church because they saw me as “too sensible” of a person to keep trying to live the “lie” of it all. It took me about another year to come to the same conclusion myself.

  • On the contrary, I thought the whole survey was carefully crafted to allow the widest range of responses without trying force or pre-shape the response. It seems to me that you really object to impartial wording on the notion that language about the Church can only be laudatory or pejorative, and that language that does not praise Mormonism is therefore automatically pejorative by not being laudatory. But it was, in fact, just neutral.

  • Why?

    If you know there is no genetic evidence of the native Americans being of Semitic origin, if there is not the slightest archaeological and historical evidence (and there isn’t) that the BOM was every anything but a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing, then that is indeed not a social/personal reason.

    But if that conclusion then leads you to reject the faith– something Deeply personal, and expression of innermost you– that you though represented the truth, that would seem to me as about as personal as you could get.

  • Now if you are going to get all scientific and everything….

    Facts. You can prove anything with facts.

  • It seems the main reason church leaders trot out “they were offended” is because these are people who may still return to church. Those who leave for personal (values or perspective), doctrinal, or historical reasons are most likely not going to return. They are as convinced the church is not what it claims as members think it is.

    So, wouldn’t people who self-describe as former mormons most likely not be in the “offended” category? Or if they were, they’ve long abandoned that position. Would this survey capture the “offended” group? In Dehlin’s survey he found ~4% in the offended group, did you find similar?

  • I was discussing with my wife this issue of people leaving the church. Disclaimer: after 50 years in, participating at all levels including significant leadership callings, we voluntarily resigned our membership. It was like a fresh wind had blown the smog out of our lives and we have been MUCH happier since.

    Certainly there are good people in the church. But I would not credit the church for their goodness. It comes from within themselves. I also think there is a significant amount of schadenfreude among members when somebody doesn’t toe the line and there is either church discipline or other perceived negative consequences. I’ve seen so often the sad shaking of the head and the inevitable, (and in this church) cliched, cluck-clucking about consequences.

    It shakes many members’ worldview when people leave and are actually happy and successful. I don’t pay tithing and to the dismay of members, I’m doing better now financially than I ever have. Many members think (hope?) that everybody who leaves winds up like Korihor and literally or metaphorically gets run down and squashed. Russ Ballard’s condescending talk about “where will you go?” suggests one can’t do better than stay in the church. Pure pablum and nonsense. And it comes from a person who isn’t any more clued in than you or I. It is only church tradition that makes his opinion seem more important than it really is.

    Folks, there is a big beautiful world out there. By almost any measure the the world is getting better, contrary to what the “inspired” leaders say. Just to go to exmormon Reddit and see all the selfies people are submitting who have left the church. Such beautiful and happy people.

  • “Certainly there are good people in the church. But I would not credit the church for their goodness. It comes from within themselves”.

    And many in other churches and other religions (and even many outside all religion) as well – and yes – the evidence is clear – it comes from themselves.

    “Folks, there is a big beautiful world out there.”

    and my experience is that it can best be appreciated without blinkers (blinders?).

  • David,

    I’m so sorry. I’m saddened to hear about some of the church members that treated you so unkind. I am also a gay Mormon. I am active in the church and was able to reconcile my personal beliefs with church teachings, but I also believe that each person must walk their own path. You are a child of God and you are loved and worthy of love. Although your experiences have been hard, I am happy to read that you are still seeking a relationship with God and seeking to minister to those in need. God bless.

  • Your observation reminds me of an old joke about synagogue attendance that may be useful here: Mr. Goldberg goes to synagogue to talk to God; Mr. Garfinkel goes to synagogue to talk to Mr. Goldberg.

  • As with most autocratic, hierarchical denominations, to get out is hard; to stay out is very, very easy.

    I speak as one who has wrestled many many years with my membership in the other “One True Church.” (Aren’t they all in their own eyes?)

  • Huh? My objection has nothing to do with the idea that language about the church must be either by pejorative or laudatory. Rather I object to the idea that stopping believing in the church as true can be separated from historical issues and labeled exclusively as a social/personal concern.

  • But your comment proves my point. If knowledge of an issue of historicity is what then leads you to make a personal decision to stop believing, then that’s a two-step process, and it cannot be exclusively labeled as a personal/social issue.

  • Too bad. I still believe in Joseph Smith, even with knowing about the peep stone in the bottom of the hat. I just don’t believe the current leadership of the Church has kept faith with Joseph Smith. I got taught to look down my nose at the Community of Christ (RLDS Church) as a kid, but the fact that they believe in Joseph Smith while being socially progressive shows that Mormonism and social progress do not have to be mutually exclusive. The SLC Church has had to own up to the ban on Blacks in the Priesthood as stemming from Brigham Young’s bigotry, not revelation from God. Refusal to ordain women or to be inclusive of LGBT could easily just be more of the same uninspired, closed-minded bigotry, since both issues are not issues in the Community of Christ.

  • I am one of those who does not currently participate in the church because I was “offended.” I appreciated this blog post. I still believe in God and the Book of Mormon. I still believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. I still believe that the leaders of the church have the authority to make policies and direct the church. What I struggle to believe is that they have inspiration from the Lord. I have lost trust in the leaders of the church at every level. I follow what I feel in my heart.

    I read the comments by people who say facts prove the church is not true and I think they are being just as closed-minded as the people in the church who believe the church leadership is never wrong, has never been wrong and will never be wrong. I note that their opinions are not particularly diverse and conform closely to the opinions of some people who have never belonged to the church. It looks to me like they are just as conforming as many who stay, in spite of the claims of superiority by some of them. Apparently no one escapes being human.

    My struggles with the church have to do with how I have been treated and how others have been treated. I agree with the doctrines, but disagree with the way they are prioritized, although I appreciated President Uchtdorf’s message in the January 2017 Ensign, in which he said we should put love first.

    My biggest struggles, like some of your commenters, have to do with the way local members of the church reacted to me before and after I left my wife. While the details are personal, it is possible that my marriage would have been saved if it were not for the actions of my local leaders. It is not likely, but the possibility does exist. This makes it particularly difficult to hear how the family is the most important thing in the church. My family definitely was not. It is even more clear that the effect their decisions had on me was irrelevant to my leaders. I was not silent about those effects. I was just dismissed and ignored. And I had believed they were my friends.

    After I left my wife, I found, not unsurprisingly, that many people were angry with me. Some will still not look me in the eye. Many people still believe they know everything they need to know to be able to decide if I did the right thing or not. I do not feel judged. I feel misjudged because people believe things that are not true. I started attending another unit, but found that I could no longer enjoy being at church the way I had before. This was a result of a variety of factors.

    I found that my Sundays were more pleasant and my weeks were easier if I did not attend. A few months ago I stopped attending entirely and I have found that my feelings about God, which had suffered considerably, have gradually improved and my relationship with him is healing.

    I am not opposed to returning, but I am not sure what circumstances would prompt that. It might be next week. It might be next year. It might be never.

    I am confident that I am on the path I need to be on. I find it a bit irritating when people talk to me as if not attending church were one of the biggest sins or mistakes you can commit, especially given the things I have seen and experienced at the hands of temple recommend holders. No one is showing up at their house calling them to repentance or encouraging them to change.

    In sum, saying I was offended is rather inaccurate. Offended is not the word. I was genuinely hurt. I still am. I am recovering from the things I experienced, but that healing did not begin until I quit attending. I am now reconnecting with what I used to believe, as long as you don’t include confidence in the leaders of the church, since that is unlikely ever to return.

    As a general rule, I think we ought to trust people to make their own religious choices. One of my sisters has left the church and religion completely. She is doing quite well. I trust her and my family members who are still in the church to manage their own lives. I think the most important thing is the kind of person you are, and the most important part of that is how you treat other people.

  • I have to say after rereading the article and comments, this article still really hits home. My personal journey through and away from activity in the Church hits on a lot of the themes discussed both above in the article and below in the comments (and not just in my own).

  • I’m a Non-Mormon (A “Gentile” as Mormons pejoratively refer to us) but I’ve enjoyed Ms. Reiss’s articles here immensely. I know a little bit about the LDS since my uncle is a Big Poohbah in the leadership there. He became LDS when he met my Aunt while serving in the military, and, upon learning she was only interested in continuing a relationship if he became LDS, he did. I KNOW IT HAS BEEN GOOD FOR HIM AND THEY ARE GOOD PEOPLE. I think the sticker goes back to the whole old “one true religion” BS: every religion is true and every religion is false and doctrine is BS and community is the prime motivator of religious affiliation. Phyllis Tickle believes Mormonism is going to become the fourth Abrahamic religion. We’ll see. If they continue to live in the past what with the white shirts and oppressing LGBTs and all, that may be a hard row to hoe.

  • The interesting question for me with this research is whether rates of disaffection and departure from the Church are really higher now than in past periods. It feels like they are, but I’ve learned those sort of intuitions are often wrong. Are you looking at that question at all, Jana?

  • Read mormonandgay.org if you want current information about the the LDS/LGBT thoughts, even if you see no reason to return to activity.

  • I will check out your link at some point. I keep current on what the Church says on current issues. Contrary to the standard G.A. mantra, being Mormon is a lot more than going to Church or keep a temple recommend current. There is a cultural component to it that affects a person’s extended family and their place in it. But active LDS are always looking for the right words, right angle of discussion to pull less active Mormons back into activity, never considering the possibility that activity in the Church itself can be a big part of the problem for people who don’t fit in.

  • The doctrinal/historical issues are issues dealing directly with the legitimacy of the truth claims of Mormonism. If you are aware of these conflicts but still believe in the truth claims, then you’re either being intellectually dishonest with yourself, or you don’t really understand the issues and their condemnation on the truth claims of the church.

    “Loosing a testimony” essentially means you’re not convinced that Mormonism satisfies or meets its truth claims.

  • Thanks for feeling the need to judge and “enlighten” me. I generally reject judgmental offers of help and being most false judgment being disguised as an offer of “help.” To misquote Indigo Montoya in the Princess Bride, “I have known too many Evangelicals.”

    Personal attacks as offered “help” always come down to accusing a person of either being a conspiring “wolf” or a dumb “sheep.” That need for vilification and binary “either/or” choices are the hallmarks of Hallelujah Hypocrisy to me.

    The bottom line is, I reject your need to judge me and offer judgment as help or “clarification” of anything. I’m not sure any organized religion meets my personal needs, but I intellectually also recognize that people I personally value may feel otherwise.

    I have great contempt for all things Evangelical, but I also like and respect people who go to holy roller churches and who feel doing so is core to their self-identity. So, I keep my harsh thoughts about their churches to myself, valuing them over what I think of their religion. I save such thoughts for the relative anonymity of online discussion threads, like this one.

  • We’re on our way out. Observers might say we’re leaving because we were offended, but being hurt by the Church can understandably be a catalyst for growth and therefore, for some, disbelieving it.

    In our case, the stake president apologized for his own actions, those of the bishop and ward members. The apology really helped me heal from the pain of the offense. But then I realised something was off.

    The experience involved us being in the line of fire of a pathological and manipulative liar. This man, also a ward member, can be charming and smart, can say insightful things in Sunday School and has friends who cite his spiritual gifts. Because of his deception, the leadership withdrew my and my husband’s temple recommends on separate occasions.

    So in retrospect I found I was dissappointed that he fooled leaders who should have been more discerning…the bishop even ignored the eye-witness of a trusted third party when the man became violent. I also learned more about good versus evil: this man can do good. But imo he has deliberately and knowingly done evil things, lying about facts about important things that hurt others, all without ever admitting his lies or apologising.

    I asked myself if I could sustain this man if the bishop proposed him for a calling. No. What if the stake president called him? No. What if he was proposed as a new apostle? Emphatically, absolutely no.

    Raise your hand if you guess where I’m going with this.

    You see, most my life I knew Joseph Smith was not perfect. I gradually learned he had likely done some bad things. I know he lied to the state, and Church membership and deceived his wife about important stuff that could hurt people.

    So in essence, this experience with a ward member taught me that I would not sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet. Knowing what I have seen, I no longer believe he spoke with God’s authority.

    I learned from being offended.

  • You don’t choose to be offended if someone offends you they offend you.
    It’s like I punch someone and tell that person don’t cry. Mormons go to church for nothing they haven’t matured as to the things of God

  • The LDS church is a religion made by a man for men & is an absolutely patriarchal society with no place for women to attain the highest ranks. There’s no REAL support for women who don’t rely on a man to take care of them. The good-ole-boys network works only for the men. Ive never been told about a real job other than minimum wage, p/t jobs that housewives like to prevent boredom. I have to support my family myself. I don’t get the luxury to take a p/t job “just for fun.” I come from a family of strong, independent women who have made it always, on our own, despite unfaithful, substance & family abusing husbands (even men from church).

    The church revolves around the priesthood & is a patriarchal society. Since women can’t obtain priesthood what’s in it for me? I work & have a career. I’ve never relied on a man to support us. Having the priesthood in my home is about as relevant to me as learning Chinese. They’ll accept my full tithe but yet I can only be “just a woman” with no chance of ever attaining the highest ranks? I can be in “relief society” which cares for families- great! But I need to support my own first.

    Women are merely accessories & baby-making factories for the men which leaves women & children vulnerable to a husbands mood that day. God wants ALL people to be loved & supported. What value is the priesthood to a single mom or a 21st century, educated, working woman? Sadly, it’s great if you’re a man & not the same huge support network for women & REAL woman’s issues. If I want a pie recipe it’s great but I don’t get the luxury to makes pies on a whim.

    The role of women has evolved in modern society, like it or not. It’s time the church evolve with it.

  • I was raised Mormon and started questioning the doctrine in high-school seminary after we had a discussion about polygamy. I started doing more research and I was disturbed by how much information I found about the church’s history and how they try to white-wash all that is damning. Then they tell you it’s a sin for looking at any resources outside of what is “church approved”. I officially left the church 5 years ago, but it had nothing to do with being offended, It’s because I came to realize I was in a cult.

  • I have many reasons that add up to my big disconnect from the church:

    1. The Church getting directly involved in politics to cause a legislation of “morality”. Be it LGBT issues, casinos, etc. I watched the church go very political.
    2. Shady, very shady, business dealings, especially in Utah and real estate deals in SLC.
    3. Still can’t reconcile history and revelations and why the church is given a commandment but then declares it null and void because of political pressure.
    4. The ever changing Temple. “Hey, look, that Endowment thing has become kind of an embarrassment, seems a little out-dated, We’re going to make it more fuzzy.” God sure does change his mind a lot, it’s as if He needs to hire a better Staff.
    5. After my divorce, getting that letter saying my sealed ex wanted to marry someone else, would I release her and let the angels sort it out in the here after?

    I now believe that the truth of the True Church died. I believe while it still exists, it is not in any organization, The Church is gone. I believe that Brigham Young set the process in place to destroy the organization. That he was a racist and sought after power and taught a different gospel than Joseph, that he DID NOT have blessings of God and was NOT a prophet. I believe the heir to the Presidency of the Church, was lost in the human power struggle after Carthage. The Brighamites are the false and deadly branch.

    I believe that you can get close to the truth, but you do not get the truth from the LDS. The temples are mere shells and have become abomination where the gospel is no longer found. Not a temple built after Joseph is a true Temple of God.

  • Good points raised. All priesthood leaders should acknowledge better that people are rightfully offended and ask for forgiveness, and preach repentance. Some men and women need to be better at this way of communication. Church leaders for sure. And all members. That is why we attend. To learn these things.

  • I disagree. I think your generalization is based on false sweeping accusations. I know 100 men and women in my ward alone that are very mature in the ways of God. And consequently, life.

  • Wow. That is an interesting take on learning about Joseph Smith. My mother has a special place in his heart for him, and luckily never knew the modern day jerk of whom you speak. Sorry that he was that bad and apparently supported by those in authority.

  • So are Jewish people who refer to non-Jews as Gentiles using the term pejoratively?
    Many Christians have been fighting mad about them for two thousand years. And many non-Jews before them, for thousands of years.

  • I see your points about success, but my personal faith is ultimately provided by the merits and virtues of Jesus Christ, submitting to His will.
    But we all have different ways of applying facets of happiness and devotion. Best of luck.

  • It can be a crushing Eureka moment. My believing parents are very mindful, see plenty of fault in the church and I think they are quite open-minded, but it’s still, that’s not the same as seeing the bubble from the outside. At their ages I think the cost would be very steep.

  • Yes, being divorced from the trust in human leaders, those in whom we have put so much hope and good will is a hard or crushing thing.
    Each of the presidents of the LDS Church have been human and fallible, and some have made faulty decisions. But if we take that to mean that they are deceptive, misguided, diabolic, or simply wrong in all things important related to their callings and mantles of authority, then the cause does seem lost.
    So much based on lies, as it were.
    If so, maybe politics is humanity’s hope? Economics and business? Science? Art? Humanitarian organizations, secular philanthropies…
    They all combine to make up our modern world, but some are convinced that there are divinely led and leading ministers of God, moving forward despite human frailties, faults, prejudices, and mistakes.

  • Regarding modern church leaders, imo the system of living memory has been so well-established, including the psychological mechanics, that they might all have very good intentions. FTR.
    But I have come to accept to not trust one person or institution with such heavy matters. I believe in hopeful skepticism and mindful kindness.

  • “So are Jewish people who refer to non-Jews as Gentiles using the term pejoratively?”
    Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. However, “Gentiles” was their term. Mormons merely appropriated it to distinguish between themselves and others not in the craft. In their writing like Ensign magazine they use the term exclusively to dismiss those so labeled.
    As for the rest, that is certainly true, and is so for the American saints as well, and in both cases for good reasons – often they weren’t good neighbors. Both are examples of the absurdity of the concept Deity has any chosen tribe.

  • I am interested in learning more about the top reason people leave the Church:

    “I could no longer reconcile my personal values and priorities with those of the Church”

    What are the specific personal values and priorities doe people have a hard time reconciling with the Church?

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