Mormonism and culture/Response to "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008)/Social and cultural issues

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An analysis of "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008)—Social and cultural issues

A FairMormon Analysis of: "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008), a work by author: John P. Dehlin

The PowerPoint screencast "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008) by John Dehlin deals with two different major issues related to those who leave the Church:

  1. Historical and doctrinal issues which surprise and shock members.
  2. Social considerations regarding the way that members who deal with these issues are treated by other church members.

This article reviews the historical and doctrinal issues raised in the presentation. For a review of the social considerations raised in this presentation, see "Why People Leave the LDS Church"—Historical and doctrinal issues.

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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
When Church members discover the gap between what they have been taught and what history shows, they feel stunned and betrayed, like they've been lied to, like there has been a cover-up. They feel disgusted and very angry.



Things to think about

  • This is sometimes true, but should not be generalized to all Church members.
  • In many cases, the Church has acknowledged these issues, but has not emphasized them in regular Church meetings.



Additional information


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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
They starting thinking about all the tithing they paid, and all the time they spent in the temple. All the sacrifices and all the callings. How much they gave to the Church. Worth a lot of empathy and understanding.



Things to think about

  • These attitudes are attributed primarily to vocal ex-Mormons who post on public message boards. They feel that they paid a lot of tithing based upon false pretenses, and express the opinion that they wasted a lot of their time while they were members of the Church.
  • While we agree that those who face challenging questions deserve empathy and understanding, the group of ex-Mormons that publicly complains about the tithing that they paid and the time that they wasted are usually actively denigrating the Church in public forums, such as "Recovery from Mormonism." Active members of the Church are often referred to in these forums using derogatory terms such as the "Morg" or "sheeple." Church leaders are mocked and made the butt of jokes. This public attitude, unfortunately, does not entice active members to be empathetic or understanding when ex-Mormons complain about the tithing that they paid as members, or the time that they claim to have wasted serving in the Church.



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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • Once this happens to you...you never look at Joseph Smith the same way again.



Things to think about
  • This statement is essentially correct. Those who place Joseph Smith on a pedestal as being some sort of perfect individual who was more than human will realize that he was subject to the same humanity as the rest of us. Joseph Smith was a human being, and was far from perfect. He made mistakes, just like any other prophet throughout history.

Additional information

  • Prophets are not infallible—Are prophets considered infallible? Critics sometimes impose absolutist assumptions on the Church and hold inerrantist beliefs about scriptures or prophets. Critics therefore insist that any statement by any LDS Church leader represents LDS doctrine and is thus something that is secretly believed, or that should be believed, by Latter-day Saints. (Link)
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • Once this happens to you...you never look at scripture the same way again.



Things to think about
  • It is true that if one doubts that Joseph Smith was actually a prophet, that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great price would naturally be questioned. That is why it is so important to achieve an understanding of why Joseph Smith was a prophet.
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • Once this happens to you...you never look at the Church the same way again.



Things to think about
  • There are many members who are aware of many of the difficult or challenging aspects of Church history that remain active members with their testimonies intact. It is inaccurate to assume that knowledge of these issues irrevocably leads to one never looking at the Church the same way again.
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • Once this happens to you...you never think of "authority" the same way again.



Things to think about
  • We disagree that detailed knowledge about Church history should cause us to never think of "authority" the same way again.
  • Those who do not think of "authority" the same way again do so simply because they no longer believe in the Church. Church leaders are subsequently portrayed as exercising dominant authority over Church members.
  • There are many members who are well versed in Church history that fully believe that the authority delegated by Jesus Christ resides within the Church.

Additional information


  • "The thinking has been done"—Critics charge that the Church teaches that we should not exercise independent thought. "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." (Link)
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • Once this happens to you...your concept of God and Jesus and "the one true church" can change dramatically.



Things to think about
  • We disagree that this is the only logical conclusion after one has gained additional knowledge about Church history.
  • If one concludes that the Church has been "lying" to them, then this is simply the follow on. It happens to some individuals. Unfortunately, it may lead to a rejection of belief in God or any religion.
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • How do we treat those who leave? Fear. Labels—"Anti-Mormon," "Ex-Mormon," "Apostate," "Dangerous," "Ark-steadiers."
  • What did Jesus do? Defended those that were struggling against the "religious."



Things to think about
  • The labels "anti-Mormon" and "dangerous" refer to someone who actively seeks to destroy the Church after they leave it.
  • The label "ex-Mormon" is simply descriptive, and is applied by ex-Mormon's themselves. They choose to identify themselves as ex-Mormons in the public forum. If they choose to define themselves with a name that clearly identifies them as no longer being associated with the Church, then that is their right. Not all members who leave the Church will chose to identify themselves this way.

Additional information

  • Anti-Mormons and anti-Mormonism—Some claim that being labeled "anti-Mormon" is prejudicial or rude. In fact, critics of the Church were the first to use the term for themselves, and FAIR uses it as a neutral description of an author's approach, tactics, or goals. (Link)
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • How do we treat those who leave? Cease communication. We ostracize and distance ourselves from them.
  • What did Jesus do? Associated with everyone (Publicans, etc.) Go after the 1...leave the 99. Go the extra mile. Turn the other cheek.



Things to think about
  • We completely agree with this. It is completely wrong to shun and cease communication with those who leave. This is a cultural issue that should be overcome.

Additional information

  • Wayward family members—Some critics insist that the Church teaches such principles as: 1) those who are less faithful to Church teachings should (or inevitably will) receive less love, 2) that we should reject those who reject the Church and 3) children reject the Church through the fault of parents who "don't have enough faith." (Link)
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"Why People Leave the LDS Church" by John Dehlin says...
  • How do we treat those who leave? Results. Divorce, dissolution of family. Loss of community. Job loss.



Things to think about
  • Some of these things are the natural result of what happens when one spouse radically changes their attitude about something that both spouses were in former agreement on. It is not limited to religion, but can occur due to serious difference between spouses on any other subject.
  • "Loss of community" and "job loss" may be primary issues related to the Latter-day Saint culture in heavily Mormon areas such as Utah and Idaho. Unfortunately, there is a tendency within the culture to reject those who choose to think differently. This should not be the case, and it is not taught by the Church.

Additional information

  • Attitude toward non-members—Critics charge that LDS members are taught to look down upon or reject those who are not of their faith. This not not what is taught however. President Hinckley denounced bad feelings and behavior toward non-Mormons: "Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can't all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all stumble occasionally. We all make mistakes. I paraphrase the words of Jesus in the Lord's Prayer: "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Link)

  • Wayward family members—Some critics insist that the Church teaches such principles as: 1) those who are less faithful to Church teachings should (or inevitably will) receive less love, 2) that we should reject those who reject the Church and 3) children reject the Church through the fault of parents who "don't have enough faith." (Link)