There are myriad warnings against dissension and apostasy by church leaders. Church leaders are afraid of those who leave the church behind. Those who leave have the gumption and the gall to stand up for what they believe in, rather than believing what they are told to believe. Those who leave have the courage to “do what is right and let the consequences follow”. They value truth more than obedience, and more than submitting to church authority. This is a contagious stance and leaders know it.
Church leaders work hard to create a division between those who have left and those who stay. They don’t want to contaminate the members who still believe. They will tell whatever stories they feel is needed about those who leave to belittle them, judge them, and create a fear of leaving in believing members. Members feel threatened and know that if they ever leave, they will be thus judged. They will be thus dealt with and dismissed as “dumb”, or even the “dumbest”.
In dismissing dissenters, the church also dismisses the issues they have with the church. They claim those who left were never strong or never fully understood the Gospel anyways. They claim that the reasons people leave are simple little issues that shouldn’t bother anyone. The issues on their shelf were “very trifling affairs”. Things that are of no significance and there aren’t any real reasons to leave the church. Stories like: Thomas B Marsh leaving getting rewritten to a story about his wife disagreeing about milk-strippings rather than in opposition to the violent attacks from Mormons against non-Mormon neighbors, or Oliver Cowdery being excommunicated for pride, where in fact it was over him refusing to ignore Joseph Smith’s sexual escapades with Fanny Alger. Or the church’s story of William Law leaving the church in apostasy rather than the truth that Joseph Smith proposed plural marriage to his wife which they refused and then William confronted Joseph they had a falling out and William goes on to help write the Nauvoo Expositor to inform the public of the secret things their “prophet” was doing.
Brigham Young Dismisses “Trifling Affairs” and Demeans Those Who Leave
President Brigham Young mentions that the reasons people leave the church are generally “very trifling affairs”. He sets the stage that there is never any valid reason to leave. He compares those who leave to “a feather blown to and fro.” He claims that those who leave “do not understand anything about their own existence” and that even “the operation of their minds” are “unstable”.
What is that which turns people away from this Church? Very trifling affairs are generally the commencement of their divergence from the right path. If we follow a compass, the needle of which does not point correctly, a very slight deviation in the beginning will lead us, when we have traveled some distance, far to one side of the true point for which we are aiming.
When men lose the spirit of the work in which we are engaged, they become infidel in their feelings. They say that they do not know whether the Bible is true, whether the Book of Mormon is true, nor about new revelations, nor whether there is a God or not. When they lose the spirit of this work, they lose the knowledge of the things of God in time and in eternity; all are lost to them.
Those who leave the Church are like a feather blown to and fro in the air. They know not whither they are going; they do not understand anything about their own existence; their faith, judgment, and the operation of their minds are as unstable as the movements of the feather floating in air. We have not anything to cling to, only faith in the Gospel.Brigham Young
Brigham Young Discources, p129
Holland Threatens Those Who Leave With His Fury
More recently, Elder Jeffrey R Holland threatens and judges members who “dare” to bail and leave the church. He says he’s “furious” – even if it’s not exactly apostolic behavior. He gets very defensive when members leave or even journalists question his devotion or authority to what some call a cult. He seems to take the challenge as a personal attack; an attack on his intelligence and retorts that he’s not an “idiot” (or even a “dodo”), but apparently that those who leave must be “dumb” (as in the “dumbest and dumber”). He said the following in a devotional:
Don’t you dare bail. I’m so furious with people who leave this church. I don’t know whether furious is a good apostolic word. But I am. And I say, what on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of paddy-cake, taffy-pulled experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered, as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered? As if this is all supposed to be just exactly the way I want it and answered every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that, decide this, and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-day Saint. Well, there is too much Irish in me for that. This church means everything to me. Everything. I don’t care what happens; I don’t care what price has to be paid, as painful as that can be; and as much as I don’t want to invite the test as much as I don’t want to sound arrogant, or self-confident, or filled with any kind of pride other than the love of the Lord – this church means everything to me. And I’m NOT going to leave it. And I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU LEAVE IT.
When life gets tough, and the church is complex, and the world is crumbling, the first great rule of a storm at sea is [yelling] STAY IN THE BOAT! [slight audience chuckle] This is no time for you to say, oh well now it looks like, I don’t know, nobody cares. I’ll get up here, I’ll get up here on the edge and do a little half gainer over the side. [laughter] Boy, if that’ a terrific performance. I’ll tell you, you’re in for a good experience. That’s the dumbest thing you can do. [laughter] And, and the only thing dumber would be for somebody else to follow you.Elder Jeffrey R Holland
“Tempe Rescue” Devotional
Even more recently we have another Apostle, Elder Renlund along with his wife ridiculing those who leave with patronizing parables and analogies. They have a silly parable about a simple fisherman who saves a stranded person in the ocean, but then they demand to be left back in the water because they complain about the dents in the boat, the cracks in the paint, the rust, and even the poor condition of the food provided in the vessel. The other analogy is one of church history whack-a-mole, where some members choose to be a “perpetual doubter”.
As recent as 2019, the Renlunds both called those who leave “snake-oil salesmen,” “weekend hacks,” “spiritually bankrupt,” and “perpetual doubters” in their church history whack-a-mole devotional. They even have a cartoon created to illustrate their mockery of Mormons who leave:
Sadly, Stephen had chosen to be a perpetual doubter. For him, doubting pleased him more than knowing and he was digging up in doubt what he had planted in faith. As time went on, as one concern was resolved, another one was found. No matter how much anyone tried to respond and answer these questions, he found another topic on which he was anxious. He focused on the dents in the boat instead of on the capability of the boat to lead him to the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What Stephen was doing is a form of “Church history whack-a-mole.” You know, the children’s game where a mole pops up from a board and as soon as you hit it, another mole pops up in another place.
While further intellectual information may temporarily resolve an intellectual concern, further information is not the complete solution…Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth L Renlund
“Doubt Not, But Be Believing”
Would you ask for medical advice from a charlatan snake oil salesman?
Who would you take advice from on how to improve your forehand in tennis—a weekend hack or Roger Federer?
So why would you entrust your eternal welfare to those who are spiritually bankrupt because they have ripped up in doubt what they once planted in faith?Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth L Renlund
“Doubt Not, But Be Believing”
These church leaders all demonize and belittle those who leave. They show the systemic demonization of doubt. The leaders encourage members to “doubt your doubts“, or in other words, doubt themselves rather than doubt their leaders. A big mission of wasmormon.org, is to destigmatize doubt and by empowering anyone who leaves the Mormon church to tell their own story. Sharing the story, helps validates the story and allows individuals to explain the actual reasons they left, rather than let leaders dismiss them as trifle affairs. A recent message from a site contributor:
I just saw that my profile was a Spotlight — how cool is that? I’ve used the link to my story with Mormon (Victory for Satan) acquaintances who want to know why I left. Most think I have Mormon BO (Bitter and Offended), but when they read about how/why I left, it has caused a cognitive dissonance with their own journey about how the “one and only true church, led by the Lard” could do this to an upstanding member.
THANK YOU for the work you put into this — a growing community of us sharing our journeys.wasmormon.org user testimonial
This act of sharing is cathartic as well. Please consider joining the movement and sharing your story. Join this growing community of us sharing our journeys.
- Why did you leave? Tell your story or they will
- Mormon Authorities Threaten Doubters With “Don’t You Dare Bail” Messages
- Fanny Alger, Joseph Smith’s “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” Teen Bride
- The Nauvoo Expositor And More Lies From Joseph Smith
- More Church Myths – Thomas B Marsh and Milk Strippings
- Elder Holland’s Taffy-Pulled Devotional – Don’t You Dare Bail & Stay in the Boat!
- Jeffrey R Holland’s BBC Interview – Transcript and Video Clips
- Doubt your Doubts?