This presentation, recorded in 2006, covers some of the reasons why people leave the LDS Church, and what family and friends can do to help.
Succinctly, it is all about being illusioned with something that is not real or true. Too often every member’s view or testimony is based on something like Paul Dunn’s stories.
Bet you a couple donuts more members have read the ‘Work and the Glory’ than any other book or set of books in the last number of years. Mormons are lazy as to their own history, intellectually sloppy in many cases and their only connection is really one of a cultural sort. There is a lack of the real work on a personal basis. Did not Bushman write one of the main reasons for his ‘Rough Stone Rolling’ was to educate those poor unstudied BYU graduates who come east and then flounder when faced with a little liberal philosophy and criticism?
J. Reuben Clark observed sixty years ago we were as a church intellectually lazy nothing has changed.
When a “tough” article, program or whatever including a snub from their bishop or file leader then they become disillusioned.
I, like you, have seen many come and go including friends and family members.
No one ever said it was supposed to be easy, but the responsibility is really ours. We won’t find it in attending Church each week either. Pres Lee’s correlation program and Brother Packer’s supervision have assured us we will only ever read the ‘for the faithful’ versions of our own history.
My great grandmother was Josephine Rosetta Lyon Fisher, supposed daughter of Jos. Smith. Her mother was Sylivia Porter Session Lyon and was simultaneously married, polyandry to those unfamiliar with the term, to three men including the Prophet. She was part of the second anointed group in Nauvoo. None of that bothers me in the slightest and does not prevent me from teaching my Deacons each week or twice a week filling shifts at the Bountiful Temple as an ordinance worker. Neither did it or anything else keep me from serving as a bishop in my ward for 5 1/2 years before, out of boredom, my wife and I let for a Spanish Branch where we are learning the language and loving those who are los hijos de Lehi y Dios.
So much for my ramblings. May you and yours prosper in ’08.
Hi, my great grandmother was Josephine Rosetta Lyon Fisher, through Irvin Fisher, her son too. I discovered that one day while doing my family history. Not because of that solely, but I have left the church since then. But I still love studying and meeting old ‘cousins’.
“None of that bothers me in the slightest ”
Perhaps it should.
April 26th, 2007.
And I read absolutely everything ever written that had the seal of the First Presidency and Quorom of the 12 published in my lifetime.
After that I had to go back and look at a lot of stuff that had a whole new light after that.
You are correct that many people leave the Church because they hear the stuff that you mention in your presentation. The problem is that a lot of the stuff in your presentation is half truths or even complete un truths.
For example, you state there is no geographic evidence whatsoever of the Book of Mormon, that there is no evidence of horses, etc. – but there are volumes of evidence that have been published (and you know it!).
You say repeatedly that “you can’t explain away” a lot of things you mention. But the half truths you mention certainly *do* have an explanation when the other half of the story is known. For example, you say there are thousands of errors in the Book of Mormon that were corrected. Well, there were a number of corrections, but most were punctuation changes and simple text changes that were introduced when the original manuscript was copied by hand. Many of the changes were actually bringing the text back to what it originally was in the original manuscript (vs the printer’s copy where errors were introduced). Many of the other changes were adding chapters and verses. So maybe you call that “explaining away” the “errors,” but I call it gaining a more full understanding of the issue and realizing it’s a non-issue.
People who believe at face value the one-sided explanation of the issues in your presentation are the same type of people who would have believed that Jesus Christ himself was not the Messiah because he was from Nazareth (instead of Bethlehem). Wiser people dig deeper and try to find out the full truth and *all* the facts.
Believe it or not, God also allows leaders of the Church (like Peter) to make mistakes. We have to take those mistakes in context and determine whether those mistakes and thoses weaknesses of men/women undermine the Gospel itself. Should I not believe in Peter’s calling as an Apostle or a prophet because he denied the Lord three times?
The bottom line is that God himself knows whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be — the Restoration of the original Church established by the Savior Himself to prepare the way before the Second Coming. That’s an awesome claim, but God will tell anyone the answer if they sincerely ask.
There *are* millions (and growing) who have received an answer from God that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s restored Church through an unmistakable manifestation (and ongoing manifestations) from the Holy Spirit. The profound peace, joy and strength that comes from living the principles of the Restored Gospel are also witnesses that The Restoration was and is real — truly real, despite any challenges or weaknesses of men and women who played a part in its restoration.
Not all the people who leave the Church do so because they’ve stopped believing it. I would say the majority leave or become “inactive” because they decide they don’t want to (or can’t get themselves to) live the principles and high standards of the Church. (When someone stops following a diet, does that necessarily mean the diet is not true?)
Many of those who “leave” the Church actually still believe the Church is true because they have had a witness from the Holy Ghost that they can’t forget or deny. When they were living the Gospel, they also experienced firsthand the peace, happiness, and spiritual strength.
Based on your logic, truth comes from God – and the Holy Spirit provides the ultimate answer to truth. To carry this further – the Holy Spirit has born witness to me that the Church is not true – or at least true in the sense that you want it to be.
The problem with a faith based completely upon the evidence of the Holy Spirit (or evidence at all) is that you have to keep explaining why some things do not match. The suicide bombers must have had quite the powerful experience from God to do such horrible things. The Pentecostals are powerfully moved by the Spirit, and Mormon’s are confident their witness is the true and authentic voice of God.
Sadly, you are at a point where discussion is pointless and without basis. I once believed as you do and came up with plausible answers to questions facing the church. But, just like those apologists who focused on a geocentric universe, at some point the body of evidence becomes too strong.
It was comfortable knowing everything and is stressful knowing little. But, regardless of your claim, I have never been so happy. You might be telling yourself: “wickedness never was happiness” but that is far too simplistic of our mortal existence.
I am honestly trying to reconcile my faith, even though I cannot even espouse the existence of God. I’m trying to understand how to have faith, but not faith based on evidence. Faith that is based on evidence will ultimately fail. I define myself as atheist by intellect, agnostic by philosophy, Mormon by tradition, and morally guided by the golden rule. I attend Church every week and hold a calling, but I cannot believe in God.
Illuminate me if you will how to have authentic faith? Alma 32 will work for any denomination or religious tradition. I’m positive that if you focused with all you energy and prayed to know if the Koran or Upanishads are true you would get an answer similar to any you have how that the Book of Mormon is true.
How do you believe without evidence?
Please provide for all of us some references to the “volumes of evidence” supporting BoM archeology that have been published and that John is so knowledgeable of. I would ask that your sources be from a non-LDS scholars with some peer review process employed.
I’m making an honest request, the studying I’ve done has produced volumes of evidence but not in the direction you seem to be alluding to. If indeed John’s presentation is full of half truths, as you’ve stated, I would expect you to be able to back that up with more than just your opinion or the opinions of other faithful LDS scholars with obvious reasons to have a bias.
I normally really enjoy your input, but your “should” comment is confusing. Is WP (or anyone for that matter) supposed to adopt your opinions or feelings?
Just wondering (sincerely). I suppose I hold more intellectually-minded people to a higher standard, i.e. to not impose their values on others, something that the word “should” does.
Maybe I’m just getting defensive. : ) I just appreciate it when we are all allowed to feel how we want to (in this case about the church).
And a note in general–I used to go by “adam” but that seems to be a common name (duh).
The Book of Mormon archeology debate is really quite boring. From an orthodox point of view, you are “supposed to” know its true from the witness of the Spirit, not from science. From a liberal point of view, as a piece of literature it can still have immense value.
In my opinion the presentation does not really even point out the hardest issues, and it is a couple years old anyway. I know John has evolved a bit in his understanding, and I think he even articulated some harder issues in his essay on how to stay in the church.
The apologetic approach often criticizes a critic for taking a quote or passage of something out of context. However, I think they also take those contextual situations out of context of the whole body of evidence on an issue. Maybe on a particular aspect of Joseph Smith it is up to interpretation and can be fairly viewed either way. Perhaps when accompanied by the good feelings of the Holy Ghost it sways the interpretation towards the positive. However, when you go through and start to add up the many things that require this kind of evaluation, and combine those “explainable” things with the things that are not explainable and invoke the “leaders are allowed to be human” response, the whole thing become really hard to handle anymore.
Its really hard to approach this reasonably from the inside. Your whole world revolves around the truth claims. Your family, all the time and energy both temporally and spiritually that you have given. It is a lot to lose. For many people it is an investment as deep as your marriage, and the idea of that partner not being what you thought is paralyzing. These are the motivations for both the apologist AND the one who leaves. The apologist fights hard, sometimes even with verbal violence, because they don’t want to lose the virtue of that “spouse”. The one who leaves feels like the virtue is gone and they have been betrayed just like if their spouse lied and cheated and lured them into the marriage based on an incorrect image.
Keep in mind that the point of the presentation is not to convince anyone that the church is guilty of crimes against those that leave. Just to make you understand how those people feel so you can find empathy and treat them with tolerance and love.
It often seems like critics of the Church are those expect Church leaders to be infallible and doctrine never to change. Many Latter-day Saints’ beliefs are more flexible than that, taking into account that Church leaders are still human with myriad weaknesses, shortcomings, and prejudices, and that Church policy is not always Revelation as found in D&C 138. Even Latter-day Saints who maintain such a flexible (and thus healthy) view toward their faith, however, often tend to be too inflexible when it comes to Church culture or non-doctrinal traditions, ways of doing things, methods, or processes in the Church(e.g. white shirts, beards, suits, corporate culture, to name a few). Treating the Church as a corporation can be more damaging to people’s faith than what critics claim are irrefutable historical conclusions about early leaders and/or policies. All Latter-day Saints can do better to make the Church a truly receptive environment for people suffering physically and in spirit, and for people to examine the depths of their souls and expand on them in a comfortable and supportive environment, which should include open discussion of doctrines and policies. Much of this does occur in the Church, much to the contradiction of what many critics would have everyone believe. But in many cases an environment develops that is less conducive to such soul-searching and development when people become too attached to essentially meaningless cultural traits that have accumulated in the Church.
True stuff. Thanks, JohnF.
In my defense, I did say “perhaps.” I was simply expressing the idea that to not be bothered at all by polyandry in the early church is a bit odd, and might be a position worthy of further reflection. “Perhaps it should” was a pithy way to express that idea. I do not mean to suggest that everyone is obligated to be bothered by polyandry. It does seem odd to me, though, that someone in today’s world would NOT be bothered by polyandry, in the same way that it would be odd to me if someone said “my great great grandfather owned several slaves but it doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Thanks for explaining that–maybe the key here is what “bothered” means. Is it enough to cause someone to leave the church?
A lot of things related to the church bother me (mostly historical, some current). All the negatives don’t compare to the amount of positives I’ve received from my membership. I do realize that for many that is not the case, however.
As an aside–polyandry doesn’t bother me any more than polygyny does. They both bother me. : )
Good point, shenpa. I am not saying it should bother someone to the point that they leave the church over it. My heck, I haven’t even left the church yet, and I’m bothered by a lot more than polygyny and polyandry. I don’t know that there is any one thing or combination of things that “should” bother someone enough to leave. I think the threshold is an intensely personal one and wouldn’t presume to try to make that decision for anyone but myself. In that way, I agree with John Dehlin that there are ways of dealing with the negative, bothersome stuff and stay in the church. I don’t have an agenda to get anyone to leave the church. I do think it would be healthy for members of the church to grapple with the difficult issues rather than dismiss them blithely as non-bothersome. And I think the church would be a better place if both leaders and lay members did more of that–more of the kind of stuff that goes on here at Mormon Stories and around the Mormon blogosphere.
Not a good comparison Equality between slavery and my polyandrous great grandmother. Slavery implies lack of agency whereas Sylvia P. Sessions Lyon had a choice, she had three choices. She was very close to the Prophet, likely intimate even. The reason it does not bother me as Shenpa pointed out there are just too many positives, the many spiritual dividends in my life tat result from full activity. Further, I assure you I have grappled and struggled with many issues of faith over the decades of my life. I am very much at peace with Church history and my family’s history.
I think D. Michael Quinn, the “DNA Mormon”, and likely the best living Mormon historian, is an example for anyone who has studied history and remains a believer. Maybe it is in my genes…
Devin, please consider what faith is and how belief works…
You ask, “How do you believe without evidence?” Is not faith an evidence of things NOT seen? Does that not imply there is not to be evidence?
Reinhold Neighbur suggested as Christian believers we must have a subjective experience and a positive one. It is very subjective.
Thank you – I agree that faith has to be subjective, but whose faith really is subjective in their minds?
It is challenging for me to distinguish faith from evidence given the fact that our theology has the concept of evidence as the basis for belief. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be evidence that the Bible is true. If you don’t believe me that evidence is connected to our faith, consider an article from the Ensign this month which goes through all the wonderful evidences pointing to the existence of God (Our God Truly Is God By Elder Douglas L. Callister Of the Seventy). Callister even misquotes Darwin asserting that Darwin believed that the eye could not been formed through natural selection when he was really showing that this complex organ can also be accounted for.
I think there is something out there called faith, which is reasonable and yet exists without knowledge or evidence. People continue to believe in the face of evidence, but often times I see them supplanting the evidence from the spirit or their personal relationship with the divine as trumping evidence that comes naturally to humanity. Spiritual evidence bothers me because George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, the Pope, the Prophet, the Evangelicals, etc. etc. etc. all claim spiritual evidence to justify their actions and beliefs and then condemn the other as being led by the evil one. (Even allowing for other faiths to have a portion of God’s spirit condemns them because a portion in not complete, which seems to be a requirement for salvation.)
I just don’t think God cares about the truth. If God cared about the truth and really wanted us to have it, he/she/it would do something about it. In my opinion, at the moment, if there is a God, and we are biologically designed to believe (as some would suggest), then the point in belief is not correct behaviour or doctrine but the very fact to think about God, which in hand will cause us to think about our behaviour towards others and how it affects them. So, do I have faith? I don’t know. But, my wager is to do good as far as I understand, which means at times rejecting the dogma of religion and taking the chance that my good will be perceived wrongly both now and in the future.
I am very content Devin with the notion that God loves us each to a degree we cannot fathom or understand. We must however temper our interpretation of life and juxtapose this love with the immutable law of agency. A Buddhist once told me there are as many paths to the top of Fujisan or Mt. Fuji as there are schools or ways of seeking enlightenment. Too often we as sectarian M’s and Christians want to narrowly define who the elect, or the Saints. We do error in this, I believe, as we vainly attempt to circumscribe God’s love for Mitt bashing Mike Huckabee, atheists, evangelicals, even Jihadist Muslims among others.
God is truth. We just, however, as Paul observed “see through a glass darkly.” Just so much we do not know! Consider in another vein Devin that only something like 4% of the universe in visible or detectable. The rest is dark matter and dark energy. One could argue the disciples of science, astrophysicists, including Stephen Hawking because they have not adequately presented to us clearly the matter of things we should therefore reject science to some degree. There is not unified field theory. Einstein failed, even on his deathbed he vainly tried to complete his life’s work.
I think it was Lord Rutherford who asked, “Can you teach physics to a pig?” Are we limited in areas of both science and religion in understanding the hard questions, some of which you raise regarding faith? There were not a lot of things I never agreed with Elder McConkie over except when he said we have all that we need to know to achieve salvation and exaltation. I accept that. Perhaps aspects of religion, mine included, are as advanced as a college course in physics and maybe I am but a simple pig luxuriating in the cool mud of Mormon theology during this hot season we call mortal life.
A careful review of our history (Mormondom) assures any honest student that it is filled with contradictions, paradoxes, conundrums and contradictions, even our leaders having warts and flaws. J. Reuben Clark spoke about a sixth sense, one of faith, that kept his intellect in line with his faith or the limitations to it. Likewise a review of conference addresses by the Brethren suggests there are contradictions as well. Strong personalities waged and moved the lines and trenches over the decades regarding issues of science. Largely, the winners were those who outlived their adversaries, i.e. Jos. Fielding Smith and his son in law versus Roberts and Talmage among others.
In conclusion Devin this is a grand adventure or luxury of discovery for many of us who have the time to ponder the imponderables. We have the time to do so because we do not have to scratch out our meager existence in some draught plagued hard pan somewhere in a third world country. Enjoy the process and continue your efforts.
You are practicing bad apologetics as outlined in the presentation. You might want to reveiw your facts again.
To john F.:
Hear, hear! Very perceptive and germane.
John’s presentation addresses the issues faced by once believing Latter-day Saints, who come to believe that Mormonism is based on fallacy. “Ex-Mormon”, or some variation of it, are how they common refer to themselves.
I’m a little confused by the slide and discussion at the beginning, explaining that 2/3rds of those on the rolls of the church do not in any way participate in the church. In my experience, Ex-Mormons make up a small minority within this 2/3rd. The vast majority fall within two groups:
-People raised in Mormon families, baptized at 8, but as adults do not consider themselves Mormons. If anything is drawing people out of the church in droves, it is the allure of the secular lifestyle currently embraced by most Americans and Europeans.
-Those who have no dispute with beliefs of the church, but who do not feel that the meetings have enough benefit to them personally to make it worth the effort to attend.
I’m not trying to say that the Ex-Mormon is insignificant. The worth of every soul is great. But I think that the presentation could easily lead people outside of the church to believe that the number of people renouncing Mormonism (whether publicly and officially, or in a private and personal way) is much greater than it actually is: a blip here and there, to borrow a phrase.
John explains that becoming an Ex-Mormon is the result of some seminal event in the person’s life. I agree with this statement, but I completely disagree that this event is learning of some disturbing piece of information.
Whenever I have known someone who was happy in the church, but “had their testimony shaken”, they invariably come up with some rationalization. “Bad apologetics”, as John calls it, provides reassurance to many Mormons in a crisis of faith.
For those who I have seen leave, a breaking point leads to no longer wanting to be a Mormon. Feeling abused by a Bishop (often with legitimate cause) is the most common issue. That person who had previously run away from people passing out anti-Mormon literature will head immediately to the local Evangelical Christian bookstore, and soon thereafter will be regularly posting angry rants on “Recovery From Mormonism” internet forums.
Our best response is to leave our door open. When we repeatedly knock on theirs, they feel we are trying to badger them into staying. Disciplinary council action, regardless of the person’s new lifestyle, will only burn their bridge back to fellowship.
Are you the Gary Moore from San Jose who was on Rich Anderson’s BBS? Or are you channeling the late game show host? Or neither.
And some people just leave the church because been a good mormon is hard work.
“And some people just leave the church because been a good mormon is hard work.”
I suppose that is possible. I think Ted Lyon made a similar comment about the Chilean saints in his podcast. But this idea does not comport with my experience. In the last two years, I have met in real life and had online discussions with hundreds of disaffected and post-Mormons. I have yet to encounter one who became disaffected or left the LDS church because being “a good mormon is hard work.” Perhaps the folks of whom you speak are just so lazy that even getting on the Internet and participating in blog and message board discussions is simply too difficult, so they are not represented in the sample of people with whom I have been associating.
It is frustrating for me to see comments like the ones made here by jayspec, john f., and Gary Moore. One of my purposes in blogging and participating in discussions online about Mormonism is to help foster understanding between devout Mormons and those who have become disaffected or left the LDS church altogether. I would really like the devout Mormons to understand that the myths that are perpetuated in quorum meetings, Sunday School, Relief Society, in PECs and Ward Councils, and yes, even at General Conference concerning the disaffected are just that–myths.
There are many reasons people become disaffected, stop going to church, and/or resign their membership. The idea that people leave because “being a Mormon is too hard” or “the Bishop offended them” or “they committed adultery and just want to justify their sins” or “they were hoodwinked by anti-Mormon material from bitter apostates and/or evangelicals” is so far from the mark for the people I know and associate with in the Disaffected Mormon Underground (DAMU) as to be something of a running joke among us.
As long as believing Mormons refuse to acknowledge the real reasons people become disaffected and leave the church, they will continue to be unsuccessful in ministering to them and all parties will suffer, in my opinion. It is surprising and a bit disappointing to me that people who have watched this presentation, listened to the podcasts here, and spent a substantial amount of time in the Mormon blogosphere (both DAMU and Bloggernacle) continue to express the tired cliches from the correlated curriculum concerning so-called apostates.
In the interest of constructive dialogue, I will admit that I have at times witnessed a similar tendency on the part of some ex-mos in refusing to accept what faithful members say about the reasons they continue to believe in the church. I have seen exmos say things like “oh, the Mormons SAY they are happy, but they really can’t be” or “those guys can’t REALLY believe–they are just faking their belief–they MUST be able to see through the deception”; etc. If we can’t believe what we say to each other about why we believe or why we leave, there can be no real communication. If someone says she believes because of x, y, and z, we should deal with x, y, and z and not argue that they really believe because of a, b, and c. Likewise, if someone says he does not believe because of d, e, and f, the faithful ought not argue that he really doesn’t believe because of u, v, and w.
I would say that rather than actually renounce Mormonism, such people usually fall within the second group I mentioned.
I’m from the Bay Area, but not San Jose. I was active in LDS related BBS discussion forums in the 1980’s, particularly the Fidonet Mormon Echo. Now that’s going way back!
Yes, I would agree with that. I should have said stop participating rather than leave.
Welcome back, you actually remembered the real name of the mail list. I am impressed. We are no longer in the Bay Area but are in Colorado.
[…] #111 Why people leave the LDS church, and how we can help. sisterseers @ 10:19 am [filed under Mormon journey tagged Required listening/reading […]
I just watched the presentation, I am one of the X-Mormons that are described and yes John I became that way as a direct result of deeper study that was intended to make me a better teacher.
I must say that I reacted with a strange sense of De Ja Vou at Adams commentary….It could have come word for word from mouths my “friends” “Leaders” “Mentors” and even relatives almost 30 years ago.
In many ways you do not loose your faith, that can remain as strong as ever but it becomes almost impossible to do with the confines of the Tribe due to the never ending attacks by the Adams of the Church. I can tell you from personal voyage that there is no shortage of Adams in any organized church, they are all too common.
Thanks for doing te presentation your words are encouraging.
[…] do we help these fellow Saints? We can follow the advice of John Dehlin in this podcast of a 2006 presentation. We can be sympathetic, understanding, and non-judgmental, reach out the hand of fellowship and try […]
I guess I don’t understand how someone can become acquainted with all of these misrepresentations and still feel OK with the church. I was raised by very strict parents to literally believe all of these things and my entire reality was based on these things being true.
Now that this has been shattered for me, I’m dealing with a lot of hurt and anger and frustration about the ongoing denial of the truth. Since faith is supposed to be placed in something that is true but unseen, it cannot help a situation when you are asked to have faith in something that is a lie.
There is something that bothers me about the statement in which you say that the Spirit told you that the church is not true. I beleive that God does not lie. Why would he tell some that it is true and some that it is not? I beleive that he doesn’t. I have thought abou this alot. I am a convert and have journeyed through many other faiths. I believe that truth does not change and that if the gospel was not true, that in my very sincere search I would have felt that. Why would God lie to me? I don’t think he did or does.
I also find it interesting that John talks mainly about the church and its problems,the church is not about people and things, it is about God and his teachings. If you stake your faith in the people and the history and whether or not the plates were burried in a stump or a hole, you will never know if the gospel is true or not.
Just watched the presentation on youtube. Good stuff. My girlfriend and I watched together and both found the presentation fair and balanced. O’reilly couldn’t have done it better (but no really im being serious, O’reilly aside).
One difference between my story and the story outlined by the person who made the video (whose name i don’t know – is it the John posting here?) is that I first became an atheist and then was forced to accept that the church was not true (given that god doesn’t exist) despite my emotional desire for it to be true. I guess you would say that the seminal event in my life was asking the question for the first time in my life “what if God doesn’t exist?” and realizing that everything made more sense that way. This question was raised based on my studies of the factual findings in fields of geology and evolutionary biology, cosmology, etc.
The main reason i didn’t stay with the church even though it could have potentially been “good” despite not being “true” was that I fell in love with a girl who was raised in a similarly exclusivist religion, that of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, and together we realized that both our congregations were equally being effected by the spirit but both could not be true. This led me to consider that this “positive effect” of religion could be purely psychological. I went on to research that and found the arguments convincing (start with Daniel Dennet, “Breaking the spell: religion as a natural phenomenon”).
It was only after all of this, when i was a self-confirmed atheist, that i realized i still “NEW the church HAD to be true.” I didn’t doubt that this was because i was raised knowing it was true but nonetheless i still “knew” it. to get rid of the cognitive dissonance I finally actually researched the history of the church. So, after becoming an atheist, I still experienced the feelings of loss and fear and anger and despair at realizing that what i had been taught was different than what had been true about the church. (I was an atheist and still thought Joseph smith had one wife, etc – literally hadn’t heard a single bit of what was in this demonstration). I think that illustrates the extent to which such realizations can devastate a believer. It would have been much much worse if I was dating or married to a mormon and still actually going to church and stuff.
Anyway, loved the presentation.
I find your way of speaking about people who are struggling with the church very intuitive. For a long time I have gone back and forth torturing myself for having problems with the teachings. This all happened the same way that you described in the video, and I searched out answers to confusing questions. When I found no one talking about them but anti-mormons that made it worse. I have never been able to say that I have lost all of my faith, but I was afraid to tell Anyone I knew that I had a problem. I felt like, and still do feel like, it is an all or nothing situation. I have become depressed when I never ever was before because I felt like if I didn’t try to do everything right I would be doomed to a lesser level of glory, and that scared me. I wish more people, especially the ones that I know and love personally, would understand where I am coming from the way that you do. It is an extreme feeling of relief.
I don’t know what my future in the church will be… I go through cycles of convincing myself to ignore the problems and focus on the good, only to have those problems come up again and not be addressed by members. Every time I feel this way I go into serious depression of what my family would think, and them what my ‘eternal’ future will be. I hate that I deal with this, but it is good to know that I am not the only one who finds them self in the gap between having problems with the church, but not wanting to just leave because of them.
I’m active, mid-twenties, return missionary, married in the temple. I love my ward, I love my bishop, my elders quorum is great, calling is rewarding, etc. I have no problems with anyone in the church, the commandments, etc. All my family and in-laws are active, temple attending, bishopric, high-council, primary and relief society presidents, etc. I would have so much to lose and so little to gain from leaving the church. I say ‘would’ because I have been struggling lately with new information I have come across that seems to change everything I’ve previously believed, but I don’t know what I’m going to do about it yet. This presentation shows exactly what I’m going through. When I say exactly I mean like dead on accurate, a lot of you people on here clearly haven’t read and haven’t done the research or you would know what I’m talking about. Obviously there are a million nit-picky things you could criticize the church over, but in the end none of those matter if the major points of the church are correct. I have never been one who criticizes or looks for fault in the church, I’ve always loved church history, including my own family history, and that genuine desire to learn more about the church, in a faith promoting way, is what led me to a few startling discoveries.
By far the biggest shocker has been learning about the book of abraham and the papyrus. I was literally sick to my stomach for days after I read several websites and confirmed what they were saying. I can accept any doctrine, revised history, personal flaws of church leaders, polygamy, and on and on. I don’t care about that. I’m not trying to understand the mysteries of the universe here. I know there are a lot of things Joseph did and said that I will never understand, but that isn’t a problem for me. What Joseph said about the book of abraham though was very plain and clear, but there is extremely persuasive evidence to show that it is something entirely different. The papyrus is actually fairly typical funeral documents that were included with the mummies because they would have been found with the mummies. Joseph filled in the blanks in the papyrus (talking specifically about facsimilies 1 and 2) where it was damaged and then gave a meaning for it, and abraham in the first person refers to the pictures. It seems as clear as day to anyone looking at this evidence that Joseph’s explanation of the documents, their source, their meaning, etc. was clearly wrong. Egyptologists now have the ability to read the papyrus easily. Google hydrocephalus and read about what that means if you doubt what I’m saying.
I’m shocked and confused. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like my testimony is coming down like a house of cards. I don’t know how to bring this up to my wife. I know I’m going to have to deal with this somehow, but I haven’t decided how yet. I can’t stop thinking about this and I feel horrible. I would have been perfectly happy never knowing this stuff, but now that I do how can I go back? I know I have an obligation to be honest to myself, that is putting me in a difficult position. The church has been such an integral part of my life for so long, there is so much good in it, but if Joseph Smith wasn’t what he said he was, and if every prophet since him has relied on, quoted, and used a book of scripture that was fabricated how can I go on in the church?
BTW the statement about bad apologetics making things worse is 100% true. When someone points out things like the book of abraham above, then FARMS or Hugh Nibley or whoever gives multiple different possible explanations, none of which actually get to the main problem and all of which are really weak, it really hurts their own credibility. Failure to acknowledge problems that are glaring, and trying to explain them away with half-responses has made things worse for me. I honestly don’t know how the church should respond to the book of abraham stuff, other than being completely open about it.
Devin: You say, ” I define myself as atheist by intellect, agnostic by philosophy, Mormon by tradition, and morally guided by the golden rule. ” This really hit home with me. It is identical to how I have come to feel after leaving the church. My curiosity lies in your staement, “I attend Church every week and hold a calling, but I cannot believe in God.” Why do you attend a Church that teaches doctrine that is contrary to how you define yourself? and How does the church allow you to hold a calling when the very matter that is espoused to be taught is again contary to what you believe?
Thank you for posting this. I have been having struggles in the church and with my own perspective on the church. I have always had problems explaining how I feel, but you showed how I feel in this presentation. Thank you for posting this.