Causes of Disaffection (Weekend Poll)

June 7, 2014

All you need is . . . sin.

What hurts testimonies and results in people leaving the church?

What hurts testimonies the most? (Choose up to three)

View Results

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Discuss.

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49 Responses to Causes of Disaffection (Weekend Poll)

  1. Jettboy on June 7, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    You missed one: taking up the moral and political views of the surrounding secular culture.

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  2. Jeff Spector on June 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    You also missed having no or losing faith.

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  3. ji on June 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    You also missed approaching church like a social or civic or political club, where sustaining is not understood as a correct and crucially important principle.

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  4. Andrew S on June 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    While I think the aspects of personal integration to the community are big (e.g., “not being able to be oneself” and “lack of inspiration” would closely approximate that of the options provided), I actually think that Jettboy has a good point.

    If you have the moral and political views of the surrounding culture (which is happening more and more often as a result of the fact that we still work, go to school, live in communities of people with mostly secular values), then what the church offers is not going to seem all that appealing in contrast.

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  5. L-dG on June 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    “I actually think that Jettboy has a good point.” Wow. How often does this happen?

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  6. Andrew S on June 7, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    definitely check your lottery tickets if you have them… i expect that within this same comment thread we’ll disagree violently on something else.

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  7. pdizzle on June 7, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Feeling lied to and betrayed. The church doesn’t hold itself to the same standard it holds me.

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  8. pdizzle on June 7, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    “Hearing unsavory history” isn’t exactly what did my testimony in. What turned me from being very committed was realizing that the church deliberately hid away all the funny business from us in an effort to manipulate us into belief, compliance, etc.

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  9. Stephanie on June 7, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Double standards and hypocrisy among members.

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  10. amberlynn4398 on June 7, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    That is wasn’t true. That was what destroyed my testimony.

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  11. testing2 on June 7, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    No Financial transparency.

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  12. Angela C on June 7, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    amberlynn4398: That’s like saying “I wasn’t attracted to you because you are ugly.”

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  13. articulett on June 7, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Found out it wasn’t true: http://cesletter.com/

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  14. Jenn on June 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Yeah seems like “feeling the church is not true” should be on this list- perhaps the first and foremost.

    Everything else listed bothered me but I endured it so long as I thought Smith was a prophet. When I lost that belief all I had left were the things I had had to put up with.

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  15. Jeff Spector on June 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Seems to me “Feeling the Church is not true” has to do with loss of or no faith. Whether the church is true or not is not dependent on the feeling or opinion of any one person.

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  16. Angela C on June 7, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Feeling the church isn’t true is such a tipping point question, though, and each person’s tipping point differs. Maybe that’s just saying the same thing. “The church” isn’t any one thing. I don’t believe polygamy is a true principle. I do believe in the pre-existence and the purpose of life. I don’t believe gay marriage is the downfall of society. I do believe “as god i now, man may become.” I don’t believe a chunk of what I hear in General Conference. But I do sometimes feel the spirit at church. So, is the church “true” or not?

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  17. Robert Slaven on June 7, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    I’d actually be interested to see how those answers break down among 3 groups of people: 1. people who were members but have left the church, either formally through excommunication or asking to have their name removed from the records, or informally through “inactivity”; 2. people who are active believing members, but who have at least one friend/family member who has left the church; 3. people who are active believing members, but who don’t know anyone (more than the level of “acquaintance”) who has left the church.

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  18. rah on June 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    I think what I hear the “the church isn’t true” people saying comes more from honest issues with history/foundation claims of either Mormonism or Christianity more generally. That isn’t really on your list – “unsavory history” doesn’t really cover it though it can be related as the motivation for beginning to study history. Especially in a religion where we put such importance on the literal historical claims (“its either true or the biggest fraud”) – the BoM IS an ancient document or it isn’t true, more literal interpretations of the Bible etc etc it shouldn’t be surprising that some people who come to honestly weigh the evidence and decide there are better explanations than there is God. The list misses the competing rise and increasing social legitimacy of atheism.

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  19. amberlynn4398 on June 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Angela C-
    A person’s attractiveness is subjective. You may find someone attractive that I do not. I may find someone attractive that you do not.

    The “truthfulness” of an organizations claims can (usually) be found to be truth or not. When an organization claims to be the “one true” then it’s positioning itself to be held to a higher standard than other organizations.

    The claims towards truthfulness that can be measured don’t measure up.

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  20. Angela C on June 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    amberlynn4398: both attractiveness and truthfulness (as pertains to “the church” as a whole) are subjective. Individual claims the church makes may be in some cases proven true or not true, others either are true or not true but cannot be proven either way, and still others are entirely a matter of interpretation. What you mean by true may differ from what I mean by true which certainly differs from what one of the apostles mean by true. One can say some aspects are true while others are not. Likewise, attractiveness is not only subjective but on a sliding scale. At some point, someone goes from attractive to unattractive in our minds. Looks can shift, but so can perspective.

    Just as an example, saying “The church was restored,” relies on us having the same definition of “church” and “restored,” either of which is hard to tie down.

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  21. Jenonator on June 7, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Robert Slaven I am your #2 category. Hubby and I converted over a two yr period, then he lost testimony shortly after baptism. Our reactions to stuff in the ward and the faith were very different.

    The FAITH:

    Hubby came to view Joseph smith as a fraud who went after other men’s wives. I saw JS as a well meaning man of God who was removed as a prophet when God saw fit.

    He took issue with the financial transparency of the church. I reserved judgement.

    The temple- we never went but he read stuff on line that made him never want to go.

    THE WARD:

    The divorce rate creeped us both out in a church that supports marriage and family so much. When combined with the early polymarriages and friendliness of a couple of older men to me, it really creeped him out.

    Others aggressively escorting our 4&5 yr olds to class seemed cultish to him. Seemed friendly to me-even if overbearing.

    It became clear to him his private faith conversations with one two separate people were being shared after he requested beforehand that they not be. I saw this as an effort to love him and help him and that they didnt know how not to- that’s the way they “help” each other and their intentions were beautiful.

    There was never any talk of the bible without LDS prophets mentioned. I just saw it as added beauty like a pair of glasses.

    Ward members and missionaries just stopping by unannounced. He hated it and was unprepared for it and found it rude. I was unprepared for it and hated the knock at the door, but found it charming, kind and community building at the same time.

    Classes were boring to us both-but to him more. RS was too-painfully so. There was so much more we could have done with that time.

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  22. dba.brotherp on June 7, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    I think Jenonator brings up a good point. Often times people see actions differently. I know the introvert/extrovert church has been discussed by us all before but for good or bad the church only does things one way. If you try to deviate from that as a member you get chastised or you end up searching for something different.

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  23. NewlyHousewife on June 7, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    For me it was doing a cost-benefit analysis and realizing I don’t get anything from church that I already get on my own. After praying, my thought pattern was proven true for me.

    I didn’t have faith in the church, it’s impossible to have faith in an organization and if someone’s testimony relies on church examples it’s not faith–that’s called having knowledge, just like someone has knowledge the Bank of America exists.

    I have faith in G-d. When G-d tells me something isn’t worth it, I listen.

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  24. Brian on June 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Surprised no one has mentioned the Book of Abraham. It is responsible for many walking out the door and never looking back.

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  25. Roger on June 8, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Being called a “ni&&er-lover” in my teachers’ quorum back in the mid-1960s

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  26. New Iconoclast on June 9, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    Re: #19 and #13: I’ve read that letter to the CES director that seems to be treated as Holy Writ by those who use it as evidence that the Church has somehow been “disproven.” Nothing in it surprised me, was news to me, or hadn’t been answered approximately 17 billion times by any number of people since 1830. If you are predisposed to not believe, you can always find some reason to support your desire. Me, I tend to take things with a grain of salt; I’m a natural-born skeptic. Yet, my testimony of the fundamental “truth” (I use the Mormon word that used to bug me so much because I don’t have a better alternative) of the Restoration remains unshaken because it’s a spiritual experience, not based on my interpretation of a collection of poorly-recorded 19th-century discourses.

    There are several basic Mormon myths that I never have “bought” which most faithful members seem to take as fact, but none of them are earth-shattering. For example, I think Martin Harris lied about his experience with Charles Anthon – I don’t think Anthon ever confirmed Joseph’s translation of the “Caracters.” At best, Harris grotesquely misunderstood. I also think Joseph made up the whole story about Zelph to yank his followers’ chains. He must have been tired of being asked to put some deep meaning to every little thing they stumbled upon. Plus, he had a wicked sense of humor. :)

    I wrote a blog post once, that might make a good post here, about the difference between trusting the Church and trusting the Gospel. (Words aren’t perfect but that was the upshot.)

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  27. alice on June 9, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    #25 It took me at least 24 hours to calm myself to say that felt like a visceral punch in the gut.

    Even if someone was an older member remembering earlier teaching (I am myself) that is still a mean spirited, ungodly, cruel, ugly, ugly, ugly thing to say out loud. I hope he’s learned a little charity since then.

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  28. Jeff Spector on June 9, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Frankly, I am not disturbed by people who decide not to believe anymore. That is their right and we can’t say much about it. Their reasons are their reasons and we should respect them.

    Where I am more concerned is that desire on their part to proselytize their reasons to others, insisting that they are correct and imploring others to “learn the truth.”

    Just as i think that members and leaders should learn to leave those who no longer believe alone, those who no longer believe should leave members and the Church alone.

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  29. alice on June 9, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    #28 That’s a reasonable approach and, it would seem, inevitable for a missionary church which actively asks people to reconsider their beliefs and consider ours. OTOH, those who leave also came from that same missionary culture…

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  30. Jeff Spector on June 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    “…those who leave also came from that same missionary culture…”

    Yes, but you see the same behavior among those with strongly held beliefs that have never been part of out culture like in politics, guns, environment, education…..

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  31. brjones on June 9, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Angela, I think you’re wrong about the subjectivity of the truthfulness of the church, vs a person’s opinion re: attractiveness. When any organization makes claims of absolute and definitive truthfulness, whether large or small, broad or specific, there is an objective reality. That reality may not be provable, such as whether or not god exists, but that does not change the fact that there is only one right answer. The same cannot be said about a person’s attractiveness. Not only is it not provable, but there is no objectively right or wrong answer to the question. In other words, everyone can be right, regardless of where they come down. The church has made countless claims of absolute truthfulness, both on a broad and specific scale. Those claims are either true or false, at the very least according to the standards the church had in mind when it made the claims. Whether or not the truthfulness of those claims is provable is another question. Just because no one can ever prove objectively whether or not joseph smith was really a prophet does not change the fact that he either was or he wasn’t, according to some set of agreed upon criteria, and it can’t be both. What I think Amberlynn is saying is that, through the methods advocated by the church, and according to the criteria proscribed by it, she has come to the factual conclusion that the church’s claims of truthfulness are false. It irks me when members of the church take the position that you can’t really say the church ISN’T “true” en toto, because it’s too subjective, there are too many different facets, etc., yet they’re perfectly comfortable using such broad, absolute terms of truthfulness whenever someone GAINS a testimony. I’m not saying you’re doing this, Angela, but I think you’re close to the line. The church deals in absolutes, and it promises all its claims are verifiable. Therefore, no one should be criticized for coming to an absolute answer based on those criteria.

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  32. brjones on June 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    * Should say “according to the criteria prescribed by it”

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  33. brjones on June 9, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Jeff, saying people leave the church because they lack/lost sufficient faith is a bit like saying that people who join the church lost their ability/willingness to examine the church’s claims rationally. Neither one is necessarily false, but in both instances it’s a bit of a presumptuous and, frankly, insulting thing to tell another person.

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  34. brjones on June 9, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    If someone could please explain to me why the church wanting to proselytize its version of the “truth” is acceptable, but an ex-member doing the same is somehow unacceptable. Jeff, your comparison of church leaders leaving the disaffected alone and the disaffected not proselytizing their version of the truth is a bad analogy. In the case of church leaders, they should leave disaffected members alone because they should honor every person’s wishes with respect to their contact with the church. In the same vein, ex-members should leave people alone who do not want to hear their negative opinions about the church. But ex-members are exactly the same as mormon missionaries inasmuch as they want to share their feelings about the church, any other church, religion in general, the existence of god, or anything else. Either proselytizing about religious beliefs is acceptable, in which case it’s equally acceptable for everyone, or it’s unacceptable, in which case the church’s missionary program is as distasteful as the actions of ex or disaffected members.

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  35. Brian on June 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    “Where I am more concerned is that desire on their part to proselytize their reasons to others, insisting that they are correct and imploring others to “learn the truth”.”

    I am totally with you, Jeff. The 83,000 young adults going to all parts of the world telling others to “learn the truth” really bugs me, too. Oh, you aren’t talking about them, are you?

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  36. Jeff Spector on June 9, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    brjones,

    “saying people leave the church because they lack/lost sufficient faith……

    Not at all. How else would you explain why someone who claims they believed in the truth claims of the Church and now does not, got to that point? Beside, I never used the word “sufficient”, I said “no or loss of faith.”

    “is a bit like saying that people who join the church lost their ability/willingness to examine the church’s claims rationally.”

    Which people who join the Church have certainly been accused of…..

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  37. Jeff Spector on June 9, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    “But ex-members are exactly the same as Mormon missionaries inasmuch as they want to share their feelings about the church, any other church, religion in general, the existence of god, or anything else.”

    Not at all. Typically, missionaries approach people and present themselves. The people are free to listen or not. And usually missionaries go away when asked.

    Ex-Mormons refuse to leave……

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  38. Jeff Spector on June 9, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    “I am totally with you, Jeff. The 83,000 young adults going to all parts of the world telling others to “learn the truth” really bugs me, too. Oh, you aren’t talking about them, are you?”

    They don’t TELL people to learn the truth and you know it. Don’t be silly.

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  39. alice on June 9, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    #37 Jeff, I hear what you’re trying to say but, in all fairness, ex-members came from the community of Saints. Their families, by and large, are probably still in the church. Their lives and jobs may still be in church-dominated places. Much of their past, which is to say their memories, will always be in the church if they were brought up in it.

    How, exactly, do you propose that they “leave” in a way that makes you comfortable?

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  40. Robert Slaven on June 9, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    I figure it’s quite OK for LDS missionaries to knock on doors or greet people in public, and offer to share the gospel with them, as long as they respond politely and respectfully to anyone who says “No thank you” or “No” or “Go away” or whatever. But if they were pushy or too insistent or didn’t respect it when others said “No, I’m not interested”, then that would be inappropriate.

    In the same vein, I think it’s quite OK for disaffected Mormons to talk to people about why they left the church and so on, as long as they respond politely and respectfully to anyone who says “No thank you” …. You get the idea.

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  41. Angela C on June 9, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    brjones: “The church deals in absolutes, and it promises all its claims are verifiable.” I agree that some church leaders and materials claim things like it’s all true or it’s the grossest falsehood and other hyperbolic pronouncements. “Therefore, no one should be criticized for coming to an absolute answer based on those criteria.” Disagree because it is prima facie ridiculous to claim that all aspects of any religion are verifiable truths. As I said in comment #20, some things are falsifiable. Others are either true or not but can’t be proven. And still others rely entirely on personal interpretation.

    In the fairytale Snow White, the queen asks her mirror every day “Who’s the fairest?” and the mirror answers truthfully, but in real life, who’s the fairest is a combination of things, some of which are more objective or universal (e.g. waist to hip ratio) and others which are subjective (e.g. eye or hair color).

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  42. Anon on June 10, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    My “Other”: New misgivings about the temple.

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  43. Brian on June 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Ex-Mormons refuse to leave……

    This makes me think of my brother in law who wrote me a letter asking me if I realized what I was doing to my wife and family by leaving the church.

    And my LDS client who came to my office and bore his testimony and kept talking about “the path I had chosen” until I had to tell him he was in my office and I felt I was under attack and it was time to go.

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  44. Jeff Spector on June 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Alice,

    “How, exactly, do you propose that they “leave” in a way that makes you comfortable?”

    There is no requirement on their behalf to make me comfortable. I came from another faith tradition and I am enthralled by the culture and have incorporated it deeply in my life and my family Other family members are still part of it. but I don’t bad mouth the religion because I no longer follow it. And i don’t haunt their blogs to tell them how wrong they are….

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  45. Jenonator on June 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Those sharing the gospel generally have loving intentions to improve the quality of someone’s life.

    Others trying to challenge someone’s faith with “the truths” are trying to correct someones erroneous beliefs.

    Big difference in intentions in my opinion and big diff in coming from a place of love vs coming from a place of “clarification”.

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  46. brjones on June 11, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Jenonator, I think your comment says it all.

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  47. Ramman on June 18, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    The ‘church’ is not a church but an easily corruptable corporation which has surrendered its decision making over to a pr department more concerned with litigious than religious issues. I can’t come to terms with the barrage of evidence available that this is a capricious organization that relies on the parochial mindset of it’s forgiving unquestioning members!!!

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  48. New Iconoclast on June 19, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Ramman, you need to come to grips with the difference between the “church” and the “gospel.” The Church is a human institution run by imperfect humans, impossible to characterize as a monolithic entity since it’s like the elephant and we’re the blind men and what you think of it will depend on which part of it you’re running up against at any given moment. The trick is to avoid thinking of it as “all” one thing or another. Sometimes it is “a capricious organization that relies on the parochial mindset of it’s [sic] forgiving unquestioning members”; sometimes it’s a loving and embracing institution that provides care and rescue to its members in need, sometimes it’s a social club, sometimes it’s an effective missionary vehicle, and much more.

    The gospel, OTOH, is the part you need to understand, the part that will exalt you. The Church is the inefficient and imperfect delivery mechanism in which we all participate to spread the gospel.

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  49. Ramman on June 19, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    The problem is ‘that imperfect delivery system’ is the very problem. It’s delivering a message that shapes paradigms and results in many of its members having a rather screwy view of the world. Case in point, I had a run in with my Bishop, a well respected man in the church and the community, during a priesthood lesson where the subject of the ‘threat to the church’ of homosexuality came up for discussion. After listening to the bigoted points he and others were sprouting, I raised my hand and pointed out that the church has created a problem by marginalizing those with this tendency, so much so that 40% of suicides in Utah are young homosexual people who see no way out but to end their lives. His response was “so what!”. God help the poor youngster who has the misfortune of approaching him for advice!! I suffered from the very same bigoted view until I broke the shackles the church had on me!

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