The Mormon church likes to point the finger and demonize those who leave, complaining with the clever phrase that they can leave the church, but they can’t leave the church alone. They want us to leave quietly. This site refutes this demonization and serves as a platform to loudly share your story. We shouldn’t leave quietly, we should share our issues, doubts, research, and lessons learned. The church wants to tell our story for us and control the narrative about those who leave (when they aren’t ignoring them altogether).
The second category of critics is former members who have become disenchanted with the Church but who are obsessed with making vicious and vile attacks upon it. Most members and nonmembers alike see these attacks for what they really are. What credibility can possibly be given to a person who mocks beliefs held sacred by another? Anyone who would resort to these attacks unwittingly discloses his or her true character—or lack of the same. As members of the Church, we are appalled by such attacks. Hopefully, however, they make us more sensitive and extra careful not to make light of the sacred beliefs of other denominations.
In addition to attacking our sacred beliefs, some former members speak evil of the Brethren. Joseph Smith received his share of this criticism from the dissidents of his day. The Lord’s revelation to him is applicable to us today:
“Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.” (D&C 121:16–17.)
It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.
The last category of criticism I will address comes from within the Church itself. This criticism is more lethal than that coming from nonmembers and former members. The danger lies not in what may come from a member critic, but in the chance that we might become one.
One activity which often leads a member to be critical is engaging in inappropriate intellectualism. While it would seem the search for and discovery of truth should be the goal of all Latter-day Saints, it appears some get more satisfaction from trying to discover new uncertainties. I have friends who have literally spent their lives, thus far, trying to nail down every single intellectual loose end rather than accepting the witness of the Spirit and getting on with it. In so doing, they are depriving themselves of a gold mine of beautiful truths which cannot be tapped by the mind alone.Bishop Glenn L. Pace, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Follow the Prophet, General Conference, April 1989
The church doesn’t want its truth crisis to be made known to more members. Leaders like to say it’s a limited problem and the problem lies with the doubters, the lazy learners, and the easily offended. The “Brethren” know that as more of the faithful find out they have been lied to over the years, more church members will leave. The church leaders are trying to slow the sinking ship that is the church. They don’t want members to “leave the boat”, or “dump the baby with the bathwater”. They want to “re-brand” the church under the noses of the members. They want to reconstruct the false narrative and innoculate members to see some of the hard issues but stay faithful.
Church leaders and members will dismiss what those who leave say because they feel like they “have an axe to grind”. A phrase that excuses the church from any criticism because the person saying it might have an “agenda”. But what about the church’s agenda? This is an ad hominem attack on the person rather than their message, can also be a straw man argument by reframing and misrepresenting the statements in a way that means they are simply mad and don’t mean what they say, or aren’t being reasonable.
On Leaving the Church Alone
The church plays the victim when members leave and criticize the church. But we’re only doing what the church taught us to do. Since sunbeam class and in Sunday school class, Mormons are taught to do this. Mormon missionaries are taught to do this. Every member is taught to behave this way. The church leaders can’t complain about what the church trained members to do and who they taught us to become.
Warn Your Neighbor
The scriptures are abundantly clear in stating that all members of the Church are responsible to do missionary work. There are so many references that are used in daily conversation within the church. Here are a few of the most known:
It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.D&C 88:81
Bear testimony of my name and … send it abroad among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.D&C 112:1
And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”D&C 18:15–16
We are taught to “identify as soon as possible which of our Father’s children are spiritually prepared to proceed all the way to baptism into the kingdom. One of the best ways to find out is to expose your friends, relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances to the full-time missionaries as soon as possible. Don’t wait for long fellowshipping nor for the precise, perfect moment.”
Every Member A Missionary
The church has used the “Every Member a Missionary” mantra for over 60 years now, first coined by David McKay in 1959!
Every member is a missionary. He or she has the responsibility of bringing somebody: a mother, a father, a neighbor, a fellow worker, an associate, somebody in touch with the messengers of the gospel. If every member will carry that responsibility and if the arrangement to have that mother or that father or somebody meet the authorized representatives of the Church, no power on earth can stop this church from growing.
Every member of the Church should be a missionary.Teachings of David O McKay
Every ExMormon, Still a Missionary
We are bred to share the truth. We share the truth like it’s our job because it has been made our job. We at least share what we believe the truth to be, and for the most part as members, we believe the truth is what we were told it was. Until we don’t. Then we discover that the truth is something else. The church wants us to then simply walk away and leave it.
No. We continue with our Mormon training and share our new truth. The new truth doesn’t match the correlated church lessons we were taught and ourselves taught. The new truth is honest and unafraid to explore the dark scary crevices of Mormon history and Mormon culture. We exmormons are involved in re-evaluating everything that we once thought was solid and certain.
It’s so unsettling to discover that we can no longer believe what we were taught to believe. From the rubble, we must reconstruct our beliefs but re-examine everything.
As we exmormons recover from the faith crisis and deconstruction, we have a new truth. We have earned this truth with our personal journey through the dark night of the soul. This truth is that the church is not what it claims to be. The church is NOT true like we once believed. We are saddened by this news, but should we hide it?
We share it with the same zeal as a missionary fresh from the MTC might. We want to warn our neighbors. We want to bear testimony. We want to feel the joy of bringing others out of the cult. We want to offer help in processing the horrific feelings of betrayal and crisis others feel. We want to hold the church accountable for the lies and misrepresentations. We want our tithing back. We want the hours of meetings back, the years of service back.
We didn’t want to leave the church, but for the sake of integrity, we had to when we realized that it wasn’t what it claimed to be. We leave, but we can’t leave it alone.
John Larsen has a great thought from a recent Mormon Stories episode here:
I’ve railed against this Trope somany times, let’s invert it. So, let’s suppose that as a child you could be born into the church and go to primary for, you know, up until you’re 12, hearing these stories and being told and singing songs of praise to these white men in charge. That you get your young women’s Medallion or your priesthood advancement and you go on and you go on a mission and you’re married in the temple, and literally every major moment in your life is overseen and controlled by the church. I know things have changed, but when I was a young kid, we went to sacrament meeting in the morning, we went to Junior Sunday School in the afternoon, we went to primary on Tuesdays, Relief Society was on Wednesdays. You did your temple work, and you did your conferences, and you do your genealogy, and you read your scriptures for 10 minutes a day, and you only listen to approved music, and you avoid rated R movies. You are in the world, but you’re not of the world, and you avoid all this stuff and then a day comes that your faith and your testimony crack, and you leave the church.
What exactly is it that they want what? What they’re describing for somebody who can have their entire being, their entire education, their entire self, their identity, the identity of their marriage, the identity of their family, of their ancestors ,of where they sit in the universe, of what it means to be white, of what it means to be privileged, of what it means to be American. All of that, in a big, large narrative – and they’re supposed to do what now? Leave it alone? They’re supposed to not think about it, not talk about it, and just move on?
What the f*ck are they talking about? That’s not even possible! It’s like saying the ex-mormons are clearly not not valuable, because they can’t fly! No one can do that! No one can spend all of that psychological time and be indoctrinated so heavily for decades and years and just leave it alone. No matter how much you want to leave Mormonism behind! This is why I’m still doing these goddamn podcasts all these years later, when I should just be out watching the sunset! Because it’s impossible to leave it alone, because they made it so! They made it so it seeps into the crack of every portion of your life, every corner of your psyche, everything about you (if you are a faithful Mormon) is Mormon! So you have to re-process the entire world from the things you learned as an infant, all the way through! You have to reprocess what it means to eat, what it means to drink, what it means to have sex, what it means to have friends, what it means to have a job! There is not one aspect of your life that Mormonism doesn’t touch. So the idea that ex-mormon somehow trying to work through their own experience, and figure out what life is about is some kind of insult to these people, they can all pound sand! They’re asking for something that is psychologically, utterly impossible! That’s what I have to say about that!John Larsen
Why More Mormons Don’t Leave the Church| @JohnLarsen1 @nuancehoe | Ep. 1720