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The church struggles to understand the exmormon community. That is, if they even have the intention of understanding. They are quick to vilify and dismiss those who have chosen to leave. Church leaders have even resorted to calling exmormons names. They try to control the narrative about those who leave. They try to “tell our story for us”. This story is usually about members who are easily offended, weak, or even just plain lazy. There are stories about members who fall away because they weren’t strong enough to begin with. Dieter F Uchtdorf gave a promising talk in 2013 about the church welcoming all, even members who struggle.
To Those Who Leave
The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are some who leave the Church they once loved.
One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”
Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.
Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.
In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.Come, Join with Us, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency,
October 2013 General Conference
With this talk he has perhaps been the closest to achieve understanding mormons with doubts by validating that it is more than laziness or sinful wishes that cause people to leave the church.
Is There Room for You?
Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?”
It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.Come, Join with Us, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency,
October 2013 General Conference
This promising talk also popularized the phrase and advice to “doubt your doubts”. This talk feels good to those who are watching others in the throes of doubt or questions and it reassures those who are doubting that there is a place for them at church. It tells doubters that they are loved and wanted. Coming from someone in the first presidency (at the time), this is powerful. Sadly, in reality, the church does little to back these claims, and actually actively seeks to marginalize doubters. It does so with phrases from this very talk too, the “doubt your doubts” phrase is really what most church members took away from the talk, and it has now become somewhat of a mantra. Members who have doubts are constantly told to doubt their doubts, or put them on the shelf, pay them no mind and keep on the covenant path.
Are doubters welcome? This makes the case that doubters are welcome, that the church is welcoming and has a “big tent” so to speak. That the stakes of Zion are far reaching and all-inclusive.
Some who doubt seek to find (or even create) a gray space in the church. A place where doubts can be validated and members can discuss the struggles and conflict and perhaps even find reconciliations. The space between the binary black and white. They soon realize that the church doesn’t want any gray space. The church is actually actively demonizing and seeking to marginalize and push any who are in that space out, in the name of being “faith promoting”. They don’t want a big tent! Well, they may want a BIG tent, but they don’t want a diverse tent. They want to control the thoughts of those in the tent and regulate the discourse. They want to set the tone and only allow “approved” thoughts and discussions, approved research and even approved doubts.
In doubting our doubts before doubting our faith, we are actually allowed to doubt our faith. But only after doubting our doubts. Forgetting the full phrase though basically denies the availability of doubt. It shuts it off! In reality even what Uchtdorf is saying here is to not haphazardly leave because we stumble upon a bit of doubt. This still largely misrepresents those who leave because of doubt. They do not have a little doubt and forget to question this doubt, usually it’s a mountain of doubt that is overwhelming and leads members into researching things with an open mind. We find doubts upon doubts and challenge them and do personal studies. We learn about issues with nearly every single facet of the church. We learn about the church essays, and the coverup and apologetics. We learn about the false church narrative. Once we see behind the curtain, we loose interest in listening to and respecting the wizard. This is no longer simple doubt, it’s discovering a fraud, discovering we’ve been deceived. So suggesting that members doubt their doubts is grossly underestimating the level of study and knowledge members have as they decide to leave. This point is further proven when Uchtdorf wants to talk about unanswered questions that are causing this doubt.
Uchtdorf is credited with this phrase of “doubt your doubts” in an official lds.org meme, but it’s not even a mormon phrase. We can thank F F Bosworth, American evangelist, early religious broadcaster, and Pentecostal faith healer. This idea is actually a rephrasing of the same in the non-Mormon Christian book by F. F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924). Following the footnotes in his talk we can see he at least cites the book “See F. F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924), 23″. The book uses a phrasing to “Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts”.
Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history—along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events—there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.
Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.
Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the “facts” really mean. A question that creates doubt in some can, after careful investigation, build faith in others.Come, Join with Us, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency,
October 2013 General Conference
Well, we do have many many unanswered questions. Many answers are coming to light as well. Many questions listed in the CES Letter, and no answers that can reconcile the answers in a faithful way. What do these “facts” mean? Moreover, why does the word facts need quotes? Is he claiming these factual answers are something we can dismiss like fake news? The facts can’t be ignored and can’t be manipulated (even though that have sure tried). The church narrative is false, simply false. What the “facts” really means is that the church tells a different story than what actually happened, and still does. This deception is done in the name of “promoting faith” and “protecting the good name of the church” and as a “means to an end”. They are more focused on growth than they are on truth, just like any other corporation.
So while overall the talk and the sentiment sound well meaning and could have the best of intentions, the message fall flat because it is securely contradicted by so many other talks! He addresses that when people leave, sometimes “we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple.” Yet he also dismisses doubters with the advice much flaunted by the church lately to “doubt your doubts”.
Maybe Uchtdorf understands more than the other church leaders, but we are still bombarded with talks from other leaders. Too many talks about doubters being “lazy learners” teaching members to dismiss those with doubts and to shun those with questions. Members are encouraged to flee from doubters as if from a plague. The leaders know doubt is contagious, they are trying to shield every member from doubt by instilling them with fear of doubt to keep them from looking at church doctrine or history or anything that is not faith promoting for that matter. They must know what they are doing. They are not trying to share truth, they are simply trying to retain members and grow the church. The goal of the organization seems more to grow than to have healthy members or culture.
They have the audacity to ask those who leave to leave the church alone. They call foul, feigning persecution when people leave and talk about why. Wouldn’t it be nice if they followed their own advice though? Couldn’t they leave those who leave alone? They tell us to leave them alone, but are they doing the same? They don’t leave us alone! They call us names! They actively work to disintegrate our relationships with our family members by making us out to be evil and contagious. They set up the system to make family members push guilt trips on us of the “empty chairs” in heaven. They want to tell our story for us and claim we’re “lazy learners” or offended or that we just want to sin!
In their effort to keep members in the pews, the church has worked hard to vilify doubt. They know that when people doubt they investigate, and when we investigate this doubt, with the intentions of building our faith we are met with the opposite.We find our doubts were warranted and that our faith was misplaced.
While we do have a gentle gem of a talk delivered with love from a then member of the first presidency, Dieter F Uchtdorf also set the stage for us to hear the unhelpful advice to “doubt our doubts”. The church really does not understand the post-mormon community and the pain and trauma they have caused so many. They don’t wish to understand though, they really just want to control as many of us as they can. They vilify and dismiss doubters and unbelievers as infidels. They control the narratives about us by telling our stories from their perspective and slant and demand that we don’t tell ours. We are asked to “Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith” – we have. The doubts have been thoroughly doubted, and the faith has also been thoroughly doubted. The faith has been found lacking substance and the doubts have been vindicated as honest truth seeking cognitive dissonance seeking reconciliation. Don’t let them tell your story while you sit silently. Leave loudly and speak up for truth and integrity.