Personal Faith Crisis Report Sections:
Section Table of Contents
- STEP 1: INITIATION
- STEP 2: SEARCH
- STEP 3: TROUBLING DISCOVERY
- STEP 4: BETRAYAL
- STEP 5: HARSH TREATMENT
- STEP 6: DISTANCING
- STEP 7: ANGER MAGNIFICATION
- STEP 8: COMPLETED CYCLE-OF-DISAFFECTION
CYCLE OF DISAFFECTION
While each Faith Crisis is unique, many commonalities exist that define the experience. The goal of The Perpetual Cycle of Disaffection graphic is to distill the Faith Crisis “vicious cycle” to its simplest core. While this represents the worst-case scenario, the majority of our Faith Crisis members experience at least several aspects of this cycle. The cycle is divided into three main trisectors: 1) Discover, 2) Disclosure & Distress, and 3) Disaffection & Disaffiliation.
A Need for Greater Understanding
Too often families, friends, spouses, and members label our Faith Crisis members as pariahs and avoid them like the plague—even when they’re just at the questioning stage.
Just as important as why people leave is the question of what we do with our doubting and disaffected Faith Crisis brothers and sisters. As outlined poignantly by the Faith Crisis survey respondents: once a struggling member starts heading out the proverbial Church door, we members often make sure to slam the door firmly behind them. At the center of solving our Faith Crisis challenge is the need to break this cycle of disaffection.
STEP 1: INITIATION
The mass majority of online information designed to erode the faith of others is created by disaffected members or former members of the LDS Church.
STEP 2: SEARCH
When members are faced with disproving or refuting anti-Mormon claims, many first turn to LDS.org, which unfortunately has limited information on the majority of the difficult topics. Not finding satisfactory answers, members turn to Google to refute the difficult claims they have heard.
STEP 3: TROUBLING DISCOVERY
Many believing members disregard disturbing historical and doctrinal claims as “anti-Mormon lies” that have no merit or are exaggerated to the point of lunacy. While there are plenty of unfounded claims against the Church, many of the most prominent anti-Mormon claims have been verified by faithful Church historians as having merit.
STEP 4: BETRAYAL
When a member discovers facts that contradict the existing historical narrative, she feels a strong sense of betrayal. Many members in Faith Crisis attribute this high sense of betrayal to the high level of trust they placed in the Church. For many, equal to the difficult historical issues themselves is the loss-of-trust in the Church and feelings of betrayal.
STEP 5: HARSH TREATMENT
Whether it’s our innate desire to defend the Church—or our desire to avoid information that contradicts our standard LDS narrative—the most common LDS response to an active member posing difficult questions is one of defense and dismissal (see list of actual responses following).
Harsh Responses by Loved Ones
When struggling members disclose their Faith Crisis, they are often met with harsh, “shame and blame” responses that further alienate them from loved ones. The following actual responses illustrate this point:
- What covenant are you breaking?
- You must want to sin.
- Who has offended you?
- Are you clinically depressed?
- You’re not worthy to be a parent if you’re questioning this.
- I must have raised you poorly.
- I would rather see you dead than see you lose your testimony.
- Stop reading and thinking about these historical issues.
- Your concerns are anti-Mormon lies and are meritless.
- It’s your own fault you’re struggling. Nothing has been misrepresented.
- Your IQ just dropped 30 points for questioning these things.
- Your discontent is part of the latter-day “inner cleansing” of the Church.
STEP 6: DISTANCING
Many struggling members and active members experience a schism in their relationship. This is often aggravated by the struggling member’s overreaction to the belief they have been treated harshly and unjustly persecuted for simply asking questions and disclosing historically accurate information.
Lack of Empathy
For many, it’s less about us answering difficult historical questions than it is about how we treat their doubt. Many yearn for—but do not receive— an acknowledgment of their struggles.
Lack of Official LDS Acknowledgement
The lack of official LDS acknowledgment of difficult issues—and the lack of clear position statements—often aggravates and discourages those suffering from Faith Crisis.
STEP 7: ANGER MAGNIFICATION
Members in Faith Crisis who believe they are being wrongfully punished for “following the truth” become even more incensed at the Church from the resulting strain and damage to their familial relationships.
Denial of Difficult Issues
While the Internet does include false information masked as anti-Mormon facts, many troubling issues have been verified by faithful Church scholars. When members and leaders make broad statements denying the validity of Internet Faith Crisis issues, struggling members often become even more despondent as active members and then use this “there is no problem” justification to discount the concerns of their struggling family and friends. These combine to further push struggling members from the Church.
The Facebook quote below is, unfortunately, a commonly felt sentiment to members and leaders who state or imply that there are no credible historical criticisms to be found on the Internet.
STEP 8: COMPLETED CYCLE-OF-DISAFFECTION
Levels of disaffection and resentment vary greatly among those who experience a Faith Crisis. On the far extreme, some disaffected members literally devote their entire lives to battling the Church and “proclaiming the truth” to the active membership. Unfortunately, many of these disaffected members—through the Internet and social media—are seeing substantial success in their efforts.
Continue to Faith Crisis Profiles, the next section in the Report. The other sections of the Faith Crisis Report are broken into the following pages: