Fellow Traveler

I’ve recently been reacquainted with someone I knew back when I was an amateur Mormon “apologist” on a couple of LDS-related message boards (we’ll call him “Bill”). I’m surprised, though I wouldn’t say shocked, that he has gone through the terrible process of losing faith in Mormonism. I should say that it’s bad enough to conclude that the foundations of your worldview are not based in reality, but it’s worse when your conclusions cause unspeakable harm to your relationships with your loved ones. I would not wish that process on anyone.

He describes his “exit story” in several blog posts, starting with this one. The story, though definitely his own, follows a familiar arc: First, he desires to believe in his religion (see Alma 32). I’m not talking about a casual wish that your religious beliefs are true, but a genuine and passionate desire to believe and to delve deeply into those beliefs in order to have an even deeper understanding and commitment to that faith. (I can relate to this, having devoured everything I could for many years, devoting my commute time to the scriptures and teachings of LDS prophets.) This intense study leads to the discovery of the problematic, and even though he recognizes the problematic, he dismisses it as being irrelevant to this deep understanding of basic gospel principles he seeks. Eventually, life experience combines with this further light and knowledge to lead him to an unfavorable conclusion about his religious beliefs, and he walks away the best he can. Like me, he looks back at his years in the LDS church and realizes that he wasn’t very happy as a Mormon. For me, that was the more devastating conclusion than figuring out that the church might not be what it claimed to be.

I can already hear the clucking of some apologists, who remind us that these exit stories follow predictable forms because they are more about meeting the apostate community’s expectations than they are about what really happened. I would simply respond that these stories are similar because the process is similar. How could it not be? Those who wave away exit stories nonetheless find great inspiration in individual stories of conversion to the LDS church, even though these stories, too, follow predictable forms and themes. Conversion stories are similar because the experiences are similar, just as there are common experiences in losing faith.

What I find interesting is that the primary issues for others are not necessarily the ones central to my crisis of faith. That said, I completely understand the process of filling a growing “shelf” with unresolved church issues, which works as long as we have some important, critical tenet we cannot let go of; an LDS friend once put it this way: All paradigms are subject to rethinking and shifting, except for a testimony of the truth of the gospel. In other words, can turn any which way around that central axis, as long as you’re still anchored to it. Like me, Bill was able to continue in his belief for years despite knowing some of the problematic “red flags” of Mormonism. But his account shows exactly what it’s like to reach the breaking point at which that tenet, that testimony, collapses with the weight of the shelf. It’s an awful experience.

Why am I sharing this? It is not to erode anyone else’s faith but rather to provide what I think is an important glimpse into what a faith crisis is and why it happens. (Perhaps some might use it as a cautionary tale. That doesn’t matter to me.) Also, I’m hoping that those who are in the middle of such a crisis will realize that it eventually gets better, whether you find yourself back in the church or not. A faith crisis is not the end of the world.


27 Responses to Fellow Traveler

  1. vikingz2000 says:

    My experience in leaving the fold was not just a ‘crisis of faith,’ but more like one crisis after another, which aligns with your comment: “Like me, he looks back at his years in the LDS church and realizes that he wasn’t very happy as a Mormon”

    My ‘shelf’ became replete with a lot of things that increasingly did not bring me joy or support being a member of the LDS church. There was a lot of angst, or in more quotidian parlance I just got tired of all of the ‘$hit’.

    The tired, old cliché, “Don’t judge the church by it’s members,” or “The gospel isn’t the members,” was totally not an apropos rationale for me to remain a member. The church is not just its books (scriptures, hymns,), or buildings, etc.; the church is also it’s members. And when the members (including the leadership) don’t see eye-to-eye with you, judge you, marginalize you, treat you in a mean-spirited way for whatever reason(s) then membership becomes unbearable if not impossible (unless you are a masochist).

    The other main reason why I found membership untenable was the ever-present question about things ‘Mormon’ with regard to, “Is this Jesus?” In other words, is Jesus as we know Him in the New Testament really about Masonic inspired whoobee-doobee, ritualistic, hand/body motions, special clothing, and litany stuff performed in the temple? If this is the true church of Jesus Christ, why does the top leadership promote graphic images of Jesus looking like a tall, very white, blondish brown, blue-eyed Swede when He was/is a Semite? Why does LDS curricula concentrate more on what Joseph Smith and other so-called ‘modern prophets’ said that have very little to do with the message of Jesus rather than more on just His words and message? Why do we constantly refer to ourselves as being Mormons instead of Christians when the name of the church is TCOJCOLDS? Why is there this impression of so much all-important leader-worship in the LDS church? Where does it say in the NT to ‘follow the prophet’? I follow Christ guided by the Holy Spirit, not the words of some man regardless of his title or position in the church, or life experience; and especially a ‘prophet’ who acts more like a corporate CEO. For me, it was beginning to dawn on me that there wasn’t very much about Jesus in this supposedly Christian church. In fact, it really did start to look and feel more like a cult than a religion or church of Christian worshippers.

    However, there were a lot of blessings or benefits growing up in the Mormon church; I will always acknowledge this as a fact and I will always admonish anyone to remain a Mormon if they feel it works for them in a good, Christian way. Nevertheless the Mormon church experience came to an end because it lost its relevancy for my spiritual growth and well being. As a result of this, once I started to think in terms of what Jesus requires of me rather than the Mormon church, leaving the LDS church did not become something traumatic as I would have once thought it would. I feel very liberated and at peace now–more like a true follower of Christ than I ever did as an active, card-carrying Mormon. Hence, I have no angst about leaving the Mormon church at all. I feel totally ‘right’ that I am on the (or ‘a’) right path and loved by Jesus who is my Savior and the only one I look to and follow for my hope of salvation. It’s “What would Jesus do?” not “What would Joseph Smith, or Tom Monson do?”

    My apology for the probably too lengthy of a comment.

    • runtu says:

      Thank you for that. I agree that the baggage I carry from Mormonism is indeed a mixed bag. I would not be who I am today had I not been a Mormon, both good and bad. It works for some people, just not for me, or you, clearly. I’m glad you are in a good place and on the right path for yourself. That’s what matters.

  2. Odell says:

    When I read Bill’s blog, I felt numb. It seems as though I have read this story so many times, that I come away feeling empty. Maybe one day there will be no more Bill stories.

    • darth_bill says:

      I am quite flattered by the attention that has come to that blog lately. I actually wrote it so I wouldn’t forget what happened to me. I read it again yesterday, and teared up a little myself. The emotion can still be raw. Runtu’s blog meant a great deal to me when I was coming to terms with this, in that I was not alone. As exit stories become more and more common, we can’t forget the people behind them.

      • runtu says:

        Thank you, DB, that means a lot. Although my blog is mostly just my mind wandering, I’ve always hoped it would help people going through that awful faith crisis to know they aren’t alone and that it isn’t the end of the world.

  3. Have you really exited anything? I am all for not staying with a faith system that does not work for you, and I have told more than a few people that they should probably seek spirituality outside of the LDS Church, but the one oddity that seems to exist in the LDS world is that the “liberated” are rarely so. Darth_Bill and Runtu (both recent discussions on exiting the LDS faith) are both continual presences on Mormon-negative online forums, and Runtu has devoted half of a decade invested in contesting a religion he does not believe in.

    I do not believe in a number of things, but I can count the hours I have spent expressing my unbelief, or more specifically the subjects in general, on one hand. I spend a lot of time on faiths I do not believe in, but it is always based on a respect for that faith and a genuine interest in it (Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, even Sikhism), and never to point out perceived problems. Why does Mormonism have this problem?

    • runtu says:

      I spent a whole decade on LDS-related message boards before I lost my belief. Was I trying to Evangelize people to the LDS church? No, I was there because I found the subject fascinating, and I was always learning something new. It’s been half a decade since I lost my faith, and guess what? I still find the subject fascinating, and I’m still learning new things, such as this attempted translation by Joseph Smith in 1835, which I had never heard of before.

      Oddly enough, no one ever scolded me for participating on LDS-related boards when I was a believer; now that I’m not a believer, they tell me there’s something wrong with me because I still enjoy learning about a subject that is, like it or not, part of my everyday life. So, no, I don’t apologize for writing about things I find interesting. I respect the faith of my LDS friends and family, but I don’t see what that has to do with simply exploring things I find interesting or even problematic.

      • Your comments do not demonstrate this. I think you may be fooling yourself. I have seen you on Mormondiscussions.com, and that is not an academically exploratory forum. Your comments, while certainly not the most vitriolic, are usually incredibly negative. Again, I am intellectually invested in religion, I like it, but I rarely focus on the negative. If specifically asked I will explain why I am not Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, Buddhist, Sikh, or even Hindu, all faiths I find fascinating, but in discussion I cannot remember a time where I was negative about the faith. If I am trying to learn, why be negative. Likewise, if I am negative, do I really want to learn?

        I have also found that message boards have nothing to do with learning. I think blogs are the source of more active education if we are talking online interaction. I think many of the posters at Times and Seasons, for example, have far more intellectual depth than you will get in a random message board, so even as a believer, I would say time on a message board is time wasted.

        That all being said, I have actually looked into other ex- boards, and the study was hardly scientific or sociologically solid enough to warrant publishing, but there is a particular negative character to ex-Mormon communities. I don’t think it has anything to do with the particular truth claims of the LDS Church, or evidence of Satanic influence, but ex-Mormons are somewhat troubled. I think, more than anything, it has to do with the unspoken encouragement by the ex-Mormon community to specifically wallow in hating all that you previously believed. If Mormons have F&T meetings, ex-Mormons have do-not-F&T meetings, and you seem to attend the meetings, even if you are again not as vitriolic as many.

        There is just something particularly broken about the ex-Mormon, and it has nothing to do with the faith system itself. Many religions, Judaism and Catholicism for example, expect a lot from their members, and ex-Mormons are just different in animosity level from ex-jews and ex-Catholics. I have looked into recovery therapy, again not as an expert so my study is simply amateur, but there is no recovery theory I am aware of that includes wallowing in anger against the previous life.

        It all just seems very odd to me, and I left the Church for a while. I drifted away, and made an active choice to come back. I am also completely aware of Joseph’s indiscretions, Church problems, historical issues, etc… My “shelf” hardly bothers me, it does not get “heavy” at all, but that is because it is ok for me. I would never ask anyone else to do differently and stay with a faith that they did not want to be a part of or that they did not find personally satisfying. I think the reason that I could leave so easily, and come back, was because I did not get involved in any ex-movement or any “recovery” forums, precisely because these organizations have nothing to do with recovery. JMO

      • runtu says:

        “It just seems very odd to me.” Precisely. You haven’t been through this experience, as you merely “drifted away” from the church.

        I’m a little puzzle as to why you would never ask anyone to stay with a faith they didn’t find satisfying but you have no problem telling people that it’s wrong and unhealthy to express their thoughts and feelings about the religion that permeates their lives.

        You compared me to a divorced man calling his ex-wife a whore, as if I spend all my time insulting the church and expressing hatred toward it. That’s not fair, and it’s untrue.

      • But the fact that Mormonism permeates your life is entirely within your control, isn’t it? If you want to keep the relationships you had as a Mormon, you have to recognize that your ex-Mormon status will carry baggage. I assume you can either accept this, or simply end the relationships, as troubling as those decisions can be.

        If you live in SLC, that would be at your choice, you could move.

        If your entire family is Mormon, you could do what my siblings have done who are no longer active and simply ask to never discuss it.

        You have control, but you seem to want to immerse yourself in Mormonism, while hating the immersion and focusing on the negatives far more than any potential positives.

        The divorced comment was actually directed towards Viking’s comment about time, money, and emotionally energy wasted. But you should be aware that your comments, as a whole, are far more negative than positive. As I said, I think you are far less angry than some, but you still seem pretty angry.

    • vikingz2000 says:

      “Why does Mormonism have this problem?”

      Here’s a perspective: Mormonism took tens of thousands of my hard earned dollars and countless hours of my time and emotional investment, all the while with it’s authoritarian ways and means guilting me into some sort of depression or angst even though my intellect (and heart) screamed at me, “CON!” or “This isn’t Jesus’ one and only true church; this isn’t how Jesus operates — not what He would sanction.” Or, maybe for some people this is all about warning other people to be very wary and clued in to the real history of the Mormon church, not the sanitized one. Or perhaps it’s a type of straw man approach for wanting some sort of justice. It’s complicated, but Mormonism is so invasive into the human psyche that the damage it inflicts is almost like what full-blown cults perpetrate on the unwary.

      Having said this, I don’t go all out making war with the Mormon church, but I really appreciate when people like Runtu brings things to light that appeases me — actually, heals me — to know that I wasn’t some sort of agent of Satan or whatever, but that my innate intellect and heart (spirit) was right all along.

      If Mormonism works for you, just like the JW religion works for others, then fine. But that’s not the case for a great many others. People have actually been driven to suicide because of the Mormon church, let alone destroying and/or seriously hampering family relationships, marriages, etc.

      You may want devote some serious and conscientious reflection on these realities.

      • runtu says:

        I appreciate that. Despite what some people think, I am not trying to convince anyone Mormonism is wrong, I am not trying to warn people away, and I certainly am not attempting to get anyone to leave. As you say, Mormonism did a hell of a number on my psyche, and even now I’m still trying to work through it. It doesn’t help that Mormonism is a part of every day of my life, and the only way for it not to be would be for me to cut myself off from my family. So, I write here about things that interest me, things that bother me, and so on. It’s better to air it out here than at home. Some would say that’s cowardly, but I don’t care. I am not pushing anything on anyone, and I have not deceived anyone; quite the contrary.

      • I think that is a cop-out. Marriages cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, cause immense emotional pain, can destroy a person, but I know no recovery therapy to the newly divorced that includes sitting around and talking about what a whore your ex-spouse was.

        I really like Catholicism. I sometimes attend Catholic services, just because I like them. I’ve attended midnight Mass on Christmas for a while now. I genuinely like studying Catholicism, I find it interesting, and I live in a predominantly Catholic location at the moment, most people I know are Catholic. But I am not Catholic. I have some issues with the Catholic Church that would prevent my admission. Some theological, some cultural. If asked, and specifically asked, I would explain to a potential convert, but, and this is a big difference, I fully understand why people convert to Catholicism. I understand the good they see. And I see no reason to seek to dissuade them. I see some negative, but I even recognize that there is good there, even more good than negative, it is just not the organization for me.

        The Catholic Church has driven people to suicide. But I do not blame the organization for that. Someone’s mental illness, someone’s personal demons, can certainly be exacerbated by a belief system that does not fit, but to use that mental illness to attack a belief system is pure opportunistic unethicality. JMO

      • vikingz2000 says:

        For the record, I am not a Catholic although I was up until the time my parents converted to Mormonism when I was still a young boy. All of of my mother’s and father’s people are Catholic to the degree that they want to be (meaning ‘active’ in the church — going to mass regularly, etc.) Having said this I know of no Catholic who has experieced any sort of angst (let alone driving them to suicide) in the same way that the Mormon church evokes it — not one, and I know a lot of Catholics.

        The Mormon church, though, does have a suicide track record, especially for gay LDS members. Regardless, though, it’s ludicrous to conclude that Catholic membership dynamics are the same as those of the Mormon church. As a matter of fact, I took an undergraduate course on the ‘Sociology of Religion’ (I was the only Mormon in the class) and the Mormon church was an organization that came up for some serious discussion as for whether it qualifies to be labeled a cult. This discussion would never arise as for the Catholic church.

        The Mormon church with its temple rituals having members enacting throat slitting, etc, (during my era) and that sort of thing is just not found in the Catholic church. And most Catholics couldn’t care less about any ‘shelf’. Things like that just don’t matter to them, or their clergy, for that matter.

        Like I said: to each their own. And if this blog serves some worthwhile purpose for its author and his readership, then so be it. No one is forcing you to visit this site if it’s not to your liking. If you don’t agree with some of the content on some factual issues and want to debate those things, then as far as I am concerned that’s fine and fun, even. But as a quest, denigrating the author for having his blog site to write about his views, isn’t apropos. IMHO you come across like a troll.

      • Viking, I guess I am not so sure. I have heard of gay Catholic suicides, as well as suicides of abused children. I am not sure what your metric for measured angst would be, but I suppose the fact that people are committing suicide for these things would be fairly high.

        As for their “shelf” I am not sure what you are considering. The Crusades, Inquisition, Selling of Indulgences, corrupt priests, secretly married priests, outright purchase of the Papacy, priest abuse, destruction of indigenous peoples, etc… would all seem to have a place on that shelf. Catholics seem to have far more material on their shelf should the study it, but they have also been around significantly longer. They do not necessarily seem to care as much as Mormons do, however. They care far less than ex- and anti-Mormons would. The Papacy has been outright purchased before, and while this may bother some Catholics and some ex-Catholics it would be nothing next to the joygasm the ex-Mormon community would have if someone purchased the LDS Presidency. There is more vitriol in the ex-Mormon world, and I think the length of Catholic existence has mellowed the reactions to these historical issues.

        But this does not address the problem. Why does someone who is recovering from being Mormon sometimes need decades of recovery that consists of rehashing how much they hate their previous faith in order to recover? I think people use the word troll to label and thereby ignore issues they do not want to deal with. And I think the issue that no one wants to deal with is this.

        If someone leaves Mormonism, and no longer believes, why do they spend years dealing on the negative aspects of their experiences? Is there any form of therapy that would advocate this? I’ve know victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, I know more than a few psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors, and none would consider the ex- and anti-Mormon movement a healthy movement. In fact it would seem a distinctly unhealthy movement.

      • runtu says:

        I’m not “recovering,” and I don’t hate Mormonism. My Mormon experience is ongoing, so I don’t know why you think I should be able to just pretend it’s not there and stop talking about it.

      • vikingz2000 says:

        @ Joseph Abraham — Here is an excerpt from a Sun Magazine article interviewing Sister Louise Akers of the Cincinnati dioceses that may serve to try an explain what I think are some of the differences between the way Catholics and Mormons view their relationship with their respective church:

        >>> It probably should have been clear from the title of her doctoral thesis — “Patriarchal Power and the Pauperization of Women” — that Sister Louise Akers would eventually find herself in trouble with the Catholic Church. In 2009 Akers joined a long line of intelligent, articulate Catholics who have been officially silenced by Church leaders. Cincinnati archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk barred Akers from teaching or speaking in any institution related to his archdiocese, where she had served and taught for decades. His reason? She refused to publicly renounce her belief that women should be allowed to become priests. ….
        Lyghtel Rohrer (of the Sun Magazine): The institutional Church doesn’t always live up to your ideals. Why do you remain a part of it?
        Akers: Since Pilarczyk’s action, I have thought of leaving, but I haven’t. There is something within me that calls me to stay, but in a different way than when I first entered the community.
        Two events stand out for me in regard to this decision: The first was in 1963, when I asked my director if two other sisters and I could go to the March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. She referred me to our mother superior, who referred me to the archbishop. The answer came back no. We were to go to church instead and pray that there would be no violence. I remember saying, “But, Sister, what is the Church? Where is the Church?” And she told me we weren’t going to have that conversation. But we needed to have it. Fifty years later I think we still need to have it. The second came when I was in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and Pope John Paul II came to visit the country. The day before his visit there had been a funeral for seventeen teenage coffee pickers. The boys had been killed by the Contras, antigovernment forces that the U.S., under the Reagan administration, was supporting. The day after we stood with the families, our hands on the coffins of their sons, we gathered again for a Mass with the pope. The mothers asked that the pope pray for their dead sons, and he refused. We heard later that an advisor had told the pope it would be too political to pray for these young men. The crowd that had gathered for the Mass reacted strongly when it realized that the pope was refusing to pray for their native sons. The mothers were holding up photographs of their boys, crying, “Presente!” and at one point the pope was yelling, “Silencio!” It was awful. The next day, all over Central America, Catholics gathered to talk about what had happened. I asked a woman if she thought many people would leave the Church because of how the pope had responded. She looked at me strangely. I thought it was because my Spanish was so awful, so I had another sister translate for me. The woman still appeared confused. Then she said, “Leave the Church? We are the Church.” And I thought to myself, Louise, how many years have you said to high-school students, “Girls, we are the Church”? But it wasn’t until that moment, hearing the same message from this woman whose name I didn’t even know, that I finally got it. I will never forget her.
        Lyghtel Rohrer: And that’s why you’re still part of the Church?
        Akers: Exactly. When people say, “If you’re so dissatisfied, then leave,” I say, “Leave what? Myself?” It’s a struggle to continue on my own terms, but I do believe that we are the Church. The people of God: that’s us. <<<

        end of article

        This would never happen in the Mormon church, i.e., the mothers with regard to this Nicaragua scenario. In the first place, Mormons who are active in their faith aren’t allowed to dissent because if they do they are threatened with church discipline such as excommunication. And because of the way the church governance keeps track of all of their members it is difficult to be anonymous in order to avoid these kinds of church disciplinary repercussions. This may be moot, perhaps, but I trust you know what I am getting at. To be sure, though, there are most definitely two different membership dynamics at play. There really isn’t any type of ‘shelf’ for the majority of Catholics who are either active or inactive in their religion.

        Hence, when you asked, “If someone leaves Mormonism, and no longer believes, why do they spend years dealing on the negative aspects of their experiences?” in the first place, IMHO it is very difficult if not impossible for John and Jane Mormon to think in terms of, “We are the church!” I have been a first councillor in two bishoprics, a stake high councilman, a temple worker, a stake Seventies president (when there used to be a Stake Seventies quorum), Elder’s quorum President, etc., etc., and I never thought in terms of, “I and my fellow members are the church.” For Mormons ‘the church’ is anything but the members, notwithstanding the part of the official name is, ‘…of Latter-day Saints.’ It may be more about the prophet, or the whole assemblage of GAs, or just Jesus, but Mormons do not think in terms of, “We are the church.” So what happens is that when ‘the church’ is at variance with a member (or vice versa) who has invested so much time, money at great sacrifice, emotion, unquestioning belief and servitude, and then discovers that he or she has been lied to, i.e., has been fed misinformation and/or disinformation, or has been treated wrongly by the leadership for a plethora of reasons, (and believe me, I have witnessed many ways in which members have been mistreated by leaders) then they feel like they have been personally betrayed to the very core of their being. Consequently, it's not like an errant spouse that you end up divorcing and then after some period of time you no longer feel anything of significance for that ex-spouse. Spouses are human beings and we all know that human beings do bad things. However, this was about God Almighty's ‘one and only true church’ who has the final say about your eternal salvation. This is about something far, far more sacrosanct than some fallible human being that you married.

        So, with regard to your second question: “Why does someone who is recovering from being Mormon sometimes need decades of recovery that consists of rehashing how much they hate their previous faith in order to recover?” hopefully you can see that we are talking about people who really cared, believed and invested heavily in their ‘one and only true church’, but then discovered (convincingly so) it wasn’t ‘one and only' true at all. Having said this, though, I for one don’t ‘hate’ the Mormon church; I’m disappointed and saddened in discovering what I affirm it NOT to be, but I don’t ‘hate’ it. In fact, I have always maintained that there were many goods things that I garnered from having been an active Mormon. But to be sure, the Mormon church would never allow me to think in terms of “We are the church.” Hence, I’m outa here, Mormon church; you are now just a curiosity, a soap opera to follow, a continuing saga for my entertainment, and stuff like what Runtu writes about serves that purpose. But as for ‘hating’ the Mormon church, or it being harmful to my well being? Nah, no more than someone coming up to me and saying, “Hey, I got a bridge I can sell you.” or, “Hey, wanna buy a magic stone and a top hat?”

      • Viking, I have to ask…where have you been? You say “This would never happen in the Mormon church” but it has, is, and likely will continue. Women are openly asking to be ordained to the Priesthood, members are opposing the Church’s policy on gay marriage, people are actively challenging preconceived notions all of the time, just like Sister Louise Akers, and doing it all as believing, practicing members of the Church. I know Mormon examples, some very close personal friends, who are exactly the type of people you are referring to by using Sister Louise Akers.

        And people decide that the Catholic Church is no longer the “one and true Church” or that the Jews really are not the “Chosen people” and for some reason they do not go through the angst that ex-Mormons do, and they were no less invested or believing than you claim to have been.

        For some reason they do not need what ex-Mormons do, and no one can explain why.

        Honestly, I really don’t begrudge someone their right to choose their own spiritual path, but having known a LOT of religious people. Sometimes these incredibly devout, incredibly pious, incredibly invested, incredibly dedicated people walk away from decades of devotion, piety, investment, dedication, but they do not have the problems or need to invest in HIGHLY negative ex- communities like ex-Mormons do. It is a very bizarre sociological phenomenon. I was really just hoping someone could explain it.

        It is not like you could claim ex-Mormons were just that much more committed than those of other faiths. That would be incredibly condescending. So why do other communities not need the anger based support ex-Mormons do? It is very, very, very odd.

      • vikingz2000 says:

        @ Joseph Abraham:

        “So why do other communities not need the anger based support ex-Mormons do? It is very, very, very odd.”

        I’m trying to tell you why coming from a long line of Roman Catholics who are all over the map in belief and participation. My father was an alter boy for seventeen years. Seventeen years! He left the Catholic church when he converted to Mormonism without any angst, and even having caused his father (my grandfather) a lot of dismay for breaking away from centuries of family heritage.

        What I am attempting to convey is that membership in the Catholic church doesn’t evoke the same kind of commitment, which in turn doesn’t work its way to the core of one’s psyche as does becoming an ardent believer in the LDS faith. For example, a Catholic believer is not emotionally invested in the Pope the same way a Mormon believer is to the Prophet, and I would also say to some degree the Quorum of the Twelve. For example, when a member of the 12 would visit our area ‘back in the day’ it was as if Jesus Himself was visiting! It was always preceded with lots of reverential ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs,’ which today is referred to as ‘leader worship’. A Catholic, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about about a visiting cardinal no matter high up he was.

        As for the Pope–the Holy Father–I am sure every believing Catholic would think it a terrific honor and spiritually motivating experience to participate in an audience with him, or just being close to him as he is paraded down some avenue in his ‘Popemobile,’ but that’s pretty much all what it’s about; or almost like some kind of a religious novelty to brag about to someone in the same way a lot of Brits line up to see the Queen Mother as she parades down the street at a coronation, or whatever. However, it’s not a visceral experience in the same way a believing Mormon regards his or her Prophet. Their Prophet actually speaks to God, or at the very least gets direct revelation from God for the whole earth let alone just the church. The Mormon prophet holds the keys of the sealing power as for “what is bound on earth will be bound in Heaven” (and vice versa) commensurate to a member’s eternal salvation in the highest heaven for himself or herself and their whole nuclear and extended family, but there is no such parallel in the Catholic church for any of its members. The Pope is just the Pope–the Holy Father to be revered (and even this varies from Pope to Pope)–and that’s about it.

        No Catholic dresses up in a special costume called the ‘robes of the holy priesthood’ and takes the kind of vows a Mormon does in a Mormon temple. I won’t go into those details out of respect (presuming that you are temple worthy and take it seriously), but regardless, surely you know what I am referring to. So again, being a Catholic, or a Baptist, or a Methodist or even a JW to some extent, does not get bred into your bones in the same way as does Mormonism. This is why my university professor (and many others) would postulate that the Mormon church isn’t exactly what one would catagorize as being a full-out cult, but it does have many cult-like paralells. And so, IMHO, it is these parallels that result in the kind of responses (anger, inordinate dismay, etc.) that we see in some former, true believing Mormons.

        To take this one step further look at my wife. She was never emotionally invested in the Mormon church as a convert in her early twenties like I was from the time I was eight years old. For her, the Mormon church was just a good place to raise her kids, and her former husband (by death) was very liberal (although loyal to a fault to the culture). Hence, when I came on the scene many years ago, and as a believer with more invested experience and who then started to disengage from Mormonism, the effect it had on her was negligible compared to me. She, like me, is not a believer any more, but she acts as if she never was because she never was as invested to the extent that I was in the religion. And there are many former Mormons like her that couldn’t care less about the Mormon church anymore and you never hear from them. In fact I think John Dehlin stated that at least one third of the total church membership is untraceable. So, I would postulate that there are not thousands upon thousands of actively, vociferous, angry, ex-Mormons. I just think the ones that are have managed to represent themselves with a ‘big voice’–principally on the internet and/or as authors–and no doubt they have had some fair (or perhaps even ‘big’) success in stymying the growth of the Mormon church.

        If you are an active Mormon and you love your religion for whatever reason, then you can take comfort in the fact that the LDS church is monolithic and has the remarkable ability to continually and successfully re-invent itself. So, be a Mormon and enjoy the ride until there may come a time when, for whatever reason, you want to get off and try something else.

      • As an aside, I did go looking for an ex-Jew website and I found one that might fit the bill as something substantial as a movement, but…yeah. It was almost a wing of Storm Front (white supremacist group) in terms of its antagonism towards Jews. Very weird, but….I guess the do exist? I am not comparing ex-anything to supremacists, BTW.

      • So…you’re recovered? If so, why do you continually dwell on a religion you left, which caused you immense emotional pain, and one that you feel very negative towards.

        The same question I asked Viking applies…

        Is there any form of therapy that would advocate this?

      • runtu says:

        I don’t know what I’m supposed to be recovering from. Back when I was seeing my therapist, she said it was good for me to work through everything, and she agreed with me that I could do something positive by writing things that might help others who are in the difficult transition period, so that’s what I try to do. Yes, occasionally I am reminded of how destructive the LDS church can be and some of the emotion comes back, but that doesn’t happen very often. Oddly enough, my therapist also suggested that I find an outlet for those emotions that would be directed elsewhere than at my family, hence this blog and my message board participation, which waxes and wanes.

        It seems a little odd to suggest that I should stop talking about a major part of my everyday life, and frankly, the one that causes more stress in my life than anything else. It’s sort of like telling someone who is treading water miles out at sea to stop talking about the water.

      • Well, you left Mormonism in 2005, and it is nine years later. At some point shouldn’t you stop treading water and swim in one direction or another? If you keep treading water, you’re never going to reach land….?

      • runtu says:

        What do you suggest? Should I leave my wife and kids? Should I tell them to stop going to church or at least stop talking about it at home?

      • If you want to get away, that would be your only choice, but I would not recommend it. And since it is a part of their lives, they are going to talk about it, and it is going to permeate their lives, so I do not think you can ask them to stop talking. If you choose to stay, which most would probably say you should, then you simply have to accept it, but you do not seem to want to do that either.

        This is the same advice I gave my mother when my brother left the Church and his wife baptized the children Lutheran. You can be upset, think about it all the time, or simply appreciate that there is good in the Lutheran Church and be happy that there is a positive influence in her grandchildren’s lives.

        I do not think what you are currently doing is healthy. Do you keep in touch with your therapist? Does she or he know that you are still this negative about your former faith? I am curious what they would say.

      • runtu says:

        I accept my family’s decisions, and I do recognize the good in the LDS church. I think the problem here is that you see me as focusing all of my attention all the time on bashing the LDS church. I don’t. I have a life, I have hobbies, I have a job, I have commitments. I write my little blog when something interests me or I learn something new, not because I’m out there scouring the web for new ways to hate the church.

        Yes, I have talked to my therapist. She originally put me in touch with a former patient of hers who is quite active in the ex-Mormon community and whom she commended for helping people navigate the difficult transition out. He’s a hell of a lot more “negative” about the church than I will ever be. As I said, she encouraged me to find an outlet for my feelings that would not affect my family, and this is it.

        Basically, what I hear from you is that, unless I leave my family or wholeheartedly embrace Mormonism, I should keep every negative feeling I have to myself and just shut up. Does that sound healthy to you?

      • Honestly, I think you are in the same situation as a believing member of the LDS Church would be when their child comes out as gay. What do you do? Here is the advice I gave someone who had a gay child…

        “Your child is gay. Whether it is a choice or inborn is really irrelevant. Your child is going to be gay. They may have a same sex partner. They are going to be involved with some degree with gay culture. You have to decide how you are going to react, but you need to accept that your child is going to react accordingly. Nothing really changes. If you would not let your child’s opposite sex boy/girlfriend sleep in their room, you would not let their same sex boy/girlfriend sleep in their room when they visit, but you may let them visit. If they have you over, they may be affectionate, but probably within the same limits as with a mixed gender relationship. You cannot hate the sin and love the sinner, because the sin is part of who your child is. But you do not need to approve of the relationship, any more than you might not approve of any other decision, but your continued relationship with your child is based on your responses to your child, not all of your child’s actions. He or she has found someone who makes them happy (maybe, gay relationships can be as destructive as straight ones), and that other person has qualities that are good. Do not ignore those, and focus on the gay aspect in exclusion of all else. In the end, the relationship with your child depends on you, and what you are willing to accept. If you cannot accept your child as gay, then you will likely have no relationship, but their choice has been made for the time being, your choice starts now, but luckily at this point everything is in your control. You can accept that the choice your child has made is something you do not agree with, but there are positives you are probably overlooking and in the end it is up to them to make their own decisions.”

        If you insert Mormon for Gay, the same general idea applies to you. Your child is Mormon. Hating the Mormonism is no different from the Mormon parent that hates the Gay.

        Additionally, I am not sure your comment about my political comments on my blog are similar. My father stopped sending me political email shortly after I started my blog (less than a month) when I pointed out that a prison assisted by then Senator Obama was actually Austrian, and not American, and that American Senators have little control over budgetary constraints in Austria.

        Also my criticism of Republicans is somewhat related to my area of professional expertise. I have two graduate degrees in political science, I work in political fields and occasionally publishes on political-related subjects. I am not sure that my making comments on something that is directly related to my profession and you commenting on a group you just do not like is really similar?

        As for your therapist, just to clarify, she knows this individual is highly involved in the ex-Mormon community, that it feeds his animosity, and she thinks this is healthy?

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