Top 10 Reasons People Quit

By: hawkgrrrl
October 23, 2012

Se hela bildenI recently read a list of the top ten reasons why you should consider quitting your job.  I thought the article about reasons to quit your job had some relevant parallels to what I hear from people throughout various internet sites who struggle with a faith crisis or otherwise consider leaving the church.

First of all, I’ve heard the complaint that the church can feel like a job that you pay instead of it paying you!  It’s a funny line, but of course people find a way to balance the costs and benefits in their jobs and personal lives, and the same holds true in our church lives.  That’s what makes this comparison so apt.

Before I get to the list, I should quickly caveat that certain aspects of how we view our work and church lives need to be reframed to make them equivalent.  For example:

  • Pay & Benefits.  In a job we are paid in salary and monetary benefits – it is directly tied to our financial support, and without an income, we have no means to survive.  Obviously pay is not a factor in the church as we have no local paid clergy.  This is not how church works, although there are financial benefits to those on church welfare (and a few people I’ve known have used church solely as a means to access this at a specific point in their lives).  Another potential financial benefit is access to low tuition college education at BYU.  But most people aren’t in the church for the money; however, most people don’t quit their jobs solely for financial reasons either.
  • Soft Benefits.  At our jobs, we also get soft pay in things like social belonging, accept to a support network, personal development, acceptance and a sense of achievement, mental stimulation, etc.  These soft benefits are of a similar type in both organizations.
  • Personal Investment.  We invest our time, energy, emotions, and lives in our jobs.  In some jobs, we invest financially in the form of education, certifications, clothing, commuting, or partnerships.  In the church, we invest the same types of things as well as (specifically) our tithing donations.

Why I Quit Church (and the Surprise that Brought Me Back)What’s harder to quantify and compare are the “eternal” or “spiritual” benefits of church membership.  It’s difficult to discuss these in a way that is universally appealing because there is a psychological component involved.  Some people talk about the “hard” benefits to church membership in the form of ordinances (admittance to the temple, taking the sacrament) but I prefer to frame those in terms of what they signify to people:  God’s love, personal satisfaction, a belief in an eternal reward, a feeling your life has purpose and direction, a striving toward the divine, alignment with your values or principles.  Sometimes they grow to signify something negative as well (e.g. feeling your needs are not understood or met, feeling controlled, questioning arbitrary rules, distaste for Pharisaical behaviour), and whatever they signify to us is a reflection of our inner state.

Lastly, if I were talking to a friend about whether they should quit their job, these are the types of questions I would ask them.  These questions extend nicely to considering exiting the church:

  • Is it better somewhere else?
  • Is what you’re experiencing a permanent, inherent issue or temporary?
  • Can you make or negotiate changes that reduce the pain points?
  • Are you reading the situation accurately?

"I Hate My Boss"Here are the 10 Reasons People Should Consider Quitting:

  1. Company is not solvent or growing. Many are convinced that the church needs to be growing at a high rate constantly or it’s not what it claims.  When they see that 14 million includes inactives and that growth rates are not as high as in the boom years, they conclude that it’s in a downward spiral caused by more open access to damaging information on the internet.
  2. Your relationship with your boss is damaged beyond repair.  Sometimes either you or your bishop have said or done something the other doesn’t like.  Even without any specific clash, you may have a personality conflict.  On the upside, the problem is temporary as bishops have a 5 year shelf life.  But it can be a long 5 years, even if you wait it out in inactivity (as some do).
  3. Your family or personal situation has changed, and the job no longer meets or supports your needs.  At a job, the first step is always to renegotiate things as life circumstances change, and at church, the same applies.  You start with setting your own personal boundaries, putting your family first, and making sure you can meet your personal obligations before you meet the time and energy commitments the organization requests.  The key is to avoid becoming resentful.  Unlike your boss, the church won’t fire you for dialing back on your time commitments.  At worst, you’ll irritate a few people who forget it’s a volunteer organization.
  4. Your values are at odd with the organization.  In a work context, it could be that you are selling a product you don’t believe it or that you think is harmful or that your job requires you to do things that you don’t feel good about.  This kind of situation sucks your soul.  Prop 8 was this kind of issue for many members.  Between one’s values and an organization, one’s own values will always win out in the long run.  It’s important to remember that religions have many values, some of which are conflicting.  Although a vocal minority may dogmatically insist the values are their own, that doesn’t mean there isn’t evidence to the contrary from authoritative sources.  And organization values have a tendency to change over time; organizational “values” are contextual and sometimes timebound.
  5. You’ve stopped enjoying it, having fun; you dread going to work.  I’d ask:
    • What changed? Is it a local issue?  Is it temporary?  Did you change or did the people around you change?
    • Can you take a break? At work we take a break by going on vacation, taking a sabbatical, changing roles or taking a temporary assignment.  Would getting away or changing what you do for a while change your experience?
    • Is it more fun elsewhere? If you are an accountant who hates accounting, switching accounting firms probably won’t help.
  6. Your company has ethical issues.  For many Catholics, the coverup of the sex scandals was this kind of issue.  For some, whitewashing of church history has spun into this.  Even the lack of ownership on the Priesthood Ban has caused some to question the church’s ethics.  In every company, someone somewhere has done something unethical. Personally, I would want to know that the organization doesn’t reward unethical behaviour and that works to eliminate it when it happens.
  7. You’ve lost your reputation.  In a work setting, this is a tough one because a change in assignment can sometimes clear it up, and the emotions of the moment may rule.  In a church setting, this may be what people mean when they say someone left because they were offended.  Maybe they felt disparaged at church.  Changing wards is often the best recourse if at all practical.
  8. You’ve burned bridges with your colleagues.  From a church angle, I suppose the only comparison would be if people in your ward are gossipy or you otherwise have a toxic relationship with your ward.  Again, it might be best to change wards.
  9. Your stress levels are affecting your health.  I only encountered this one time in my church life – when I was running a nursery of 19 kids and my helpers were unreliable.  I didn’t consider quitting the church, but I did experience my first ever migraine, which was trippy and frightening.  I lobbied hard for more reliable helpers, and help was slow to come.  A ward split and some good help made all the difference.  For some, church itself is hard.  Unappealing doctrines, cultural norms, and family patterns can all impact stress levels in the church.  We can’t often know what bothers others.  For example, a member may make a judgmental comment in Sunday School about homosexuals.  Obviously, they are in the wrong, and most members would realize the comment was uncharitable.  But if you are sitting there and you are gay or have a gay family member, your stress could go up.  Church may feel like a toxic environment that causes you pain.
  10. You aren’t challenged enough, stimulated enough, or you can’t grow.  The aspect of this reason that makes me nervous is that it assumes that development is something that happens to us rather than a quest from within; however, it’s certainly true that environments can limit our growth or stand in the way of our development.  And you also need to strike a delicate balance between acceptance and belonging (without getting complacent) and being challenged and provoked (without becoming irritated or feeling pushed).  When that balance is off, neither work nor church feels right.

While some of the items on this list were not as good a fit (#2, #7, #8), others sound eerily similar to reasons I’ve heard that people quit the church, either permanently (even the term “letter of resignation” sounds corporate, no?) or temporarily through inactivity.

  • Do any of these reasons resonate particularly well for you?
  • Does the advice help?  Why or why not?
  • Do these scenarios help you think about both your work life and your church life?
  • Is there similarity between our work lives and our church lives because it’s a corporate church or because it’s a lay clergy or is it just because it’s a human organization?


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44 Responses to Top 10 Reasons People Quit

  1. Gillian on October 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Every one of those reasons was valid for me and contributed to my leaving.

    The boss in my case was God, though.

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  2. NewlyHousewife on October 23, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    “Is it better elsewhere” is the question I’m currently at grasps with. I know most people go to church because thats where their community is at. But when you’re at odds with the community its hard to get any benefit from it.

    God doesn’t care where you sit, just that you are happy with where you’re sitting. If church doesn’t make you happy now, it won’t make you happy in the afterlife. Our personalities will not change once there is no pulse, we’ll still be the person we are. So why make yourself miserable during the one short time you have on earth being in a place that you don’t want to be?

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  3. Julia on October 23, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    The post on my blog today actually deals with an issue that kind of falls in #2,6 &7. It is a story from over 15 years ago, but it still resonates today.

    I think that if I hadn’t known we were going to be moving, I might have had a harder time sticking it out. I considered going inactive until we moved, but I thought that it was more important to stand up for myself and for those children, by going to every church meeting, every ward activity, and being there. I know I was an uncomfortable reminder for the ward, and I wanted to be,

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  4. Chris on October 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    I suspect that a number of us have serious issues with the Church regarding its support of unethical and/or abusive leaders. Over the years, I have observed too many bishops and stake presidents who abuse their wives and/or children and who climb the power ladder of the Church, even when the abuse is reported and substantiated by doctors’ reports, eyewitnesses reports, and even police reports. There is a culture of oppression of the Church which extends beyond the few incidents reported by Boy Scouts, as serious as they are. General Authorities are shielding their friends who hold positions of authority in the Church from experiencing any form of religious consequences but instead often punish those who report the abuse. The case of Lavina Fielding Anderson is an example of this. I have experienced this as well. After reporting abuse to appropriate Church leaders when a close friend was being beaten, harrassed, and threatened by her bishop/husband, I was told that if I lived in her stake I would be excommunicated. (Her husband was a close friend of a GA.) I know this happens A LOT in the Salt Lake valley. I have personally witnessed this type of abuse several times and my physician friends tell me it is a common occurance.

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  5. Julia on October 24, 2012 at 12:53 AM


    May I have your permission to cross post your comment on my blog.

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  6. Chris on October 24, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Julia, yes you may.

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  7. Chris on October 24, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Please note that I am still active and my friends who have been abused are still active. I speak out at the risk of my own membership on behalf of the many women in the Church whose husbands believe that their Church authority gives them absolute power to abuse their wives and whose reported abuse is too often allowed to continue because General Authorities, Area Authorities, and Stake Presidents refuse to believe that their friends or associates could abuse their spouse. I believe the problem can be corrected but those who observe the abuse or who are abused must speak up and be heard!

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  8. Julia on October 24, 2012 at 1:59 AM


    I recognize how hard it is to speak up and speak out. Oftentimes, people don’t get heard, and victims can find it very difficult to advocate for themselves. I was molested by my father for 8 years. I was then emotionally and physically abuse until my parents divorced. No one saw the incest, but lots of person saw the bruises and heard the screaming.

    My father was a counselor to the bishop when I was raped (by another high school student) and without my consent, he asked for my father’s advice. After that breach of trust, it took many years to trust a bishop fully. When my father beat me so badly that I had to be taken to the ER, one of the elder’s in the EQ saw me and asked what had happened. My mom was out of town that week for a professional conference, and I had no idea what to do. He called another ward member, who offered me a place to stay until she was back.

    When I talked to the bishop, he again blamed it on me. About 2 months later I attempted suicide. That same elder asked my mom if he could visit me. He came to the hospital, gave me a blessing of comfort, and told me none if it was my fault. I learned later that after that visit, he went to the stake center and waited until High Council meeting was done so he could talk to the Stake President. I don’t know exactly what happened in the 12 days between that Tuesday and the Sunday the entire Bishopbric was released, but I know it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for his courage.

    He has been a role model to me many times. His example gave me the strength to call the police, even though my bishop had told me not to report the abuse. Everytime I talk to a new incest or rape victim that I mentor, I think of the blessing he gave me which promised that Heavenly Father would make the abuse I had received become a strength, and that I would be given blessings of compensation through the Atonement. Thirteen years after that blessing, when I testified at the disciplinary council that excommunicated my father, I had the words of the blessing, and the tenderness of the hug he gave me then, and many more times over the intervening years.

    At the time he was my hero because he was able to make people listen. As an adult, I realize that as a member for less than two years, he took an incredible risk as a newly endowed member, approaching the Stake President, and advocating for what was right. If the Bishopbric had not been released, he could have had a very difficult time.

    Thank you for being brave Chris. Thank you, from someone who was saved because he had the same courage that you possess. Thank you!

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  9. Will on October 24, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    “Straight is the way and narrow the gate and few be there that find it”: This is the savior speaking. He is saying it is going to be hard. He is saying we are going to be tested. He is saying we are going to be a small church with limited membership. He is saying we are going to have conflict with leaders and other members. He is saying we are going to have trials of our faith. Not of our knowledge, but of our faith. He is saying other things, people and demons are going to try and keep us away. He is saying we are going to be looked upon narrowly by others outside the church. He is saying it is going to cause enormous stress in our families and within our families at times. He is saying few make it on the hard path and most will quit or choose to not even take the course.

    He is saying, if it were easy, anyone could do it.

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  10. NewlyHousewife on October 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Chris, a close family friend once worked as Gordan B. Hinkley’s personal body guard. The stories he told about other GAs were downright scary at times.

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  11. Chris on October 24, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Please note that I believe many Church leaders are ethical and good men. However, there are some who are abusive and cruel. I find some comfort in knowing that our Savior selected an apostle who betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, which resulted in the Savior’s crucifixion.

    I think the problem some of us have with the abuse that we observe by Church leaders is that too often those who are abused have nowhere to turn inside the Church. In discussing this issue with a BYU professor who is an abuse expect, she recommended that anyone who is a survivor of abuse document the abuse, photograph injuries if possible, make a police report, and keep copies of all doctors’ reports. For those who experience psychological or physical abuse, the survivor must understand that abuse in not their fault and that unless the perpetrator decides to change and get good treatment, no amount of praying for Scripture study will change the situation. The survivor needs to protect herself and her children and find a safe place, even if it is a women’s shelter.

    I know that missionary work is greatly hindered when non-member neighbors observe LDS Church leaders abusing their wives and I know that a number of people are also leaving the Church because of it. With the Church’s emphasis on missionary work, this fact will hopefully some day motivate the brethren to address this issue and make necessary changes in Church policy so that abuse survivors do not experience further abuse by their eccelsiastical leaders.

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  12. Brian on October 24, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Will–I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your comment above is not in direct response to Julia’s heart-wrenching experience. Either way, I am so glad I am not one of your kids.

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  13. bon on October 24, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    People quit when they lose interest. Organizations try and maintain interest by compensating their employees with money, benefits, and/or rewarding work.

    Churches do the same, except it’s largely tied to rewards in the hereafter. Some people, though definitely not all, find the labor sufficiently rewarding to stick around. Others, finding themselves languishing because of what is still “missing” from their religious experience, leave to find it.

    One of the main issues I take with religion is the almost unanimous focus on a reward that exists in some future date. My reason fir that is that it distracts from the work of today, the pleasure of today, living on the moment.

    I like it put this way (from the screwtape letters):

    The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

    Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.

    To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too — just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow’s word is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is now straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.

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  14. whizzbang on October 24, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I think too a very real response is apathy. You care about your calling and yet want to make changes but get shot down. Why fight it and you just say screw it and just coast until you get released. Inability to change anything just saps your strength

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  15. Bob on October 24, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    No one thinks in only one time period (past, or present, or future) Our minds live/thinks in each. No Enemy will make this different. I don’t think one is trying. I think the Chuuch would have us thinking in all three, and works on us doing that.

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  16. h_nu on October 25, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    There sure are a lot of people here who like to spread gossip, and unsubstantiated claims… No wonder they’ve lost their testimonies….

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  17. hawkgrrrl on October 25, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    If anyone is interested in discussing the topic at hand, let me know. I’ve been in the church for 44 years and haven’t encountered leaders who cover up familial abuse or threaten the membership of those who protect victims of abuse. If others have encountered this, it’s obviously reprehensible. We are asked in every temple recommend interview about how we treat family members. Obviously the institutional church is against abuse. Even so, that’s not really the topic of the post.

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  18. Will on October 25, 2012 at 6:39 AM




    Great post and an even better last comment. I’m still trying to figure out what abuse has to do with sticking with something you started.

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  19. whizzbang on October 25, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    I have experienced abuse by the hands of someone in the Church acting in a church capacity and it wasn’t covered up by the Church. But someone I know though was abused and it was covered up by the Church. The wife of the perp was cheated on as well and that was covered up by the ” oh, he wouldn’t do that, he’s a good man” well…Now he passed away and he fooled people here but he can’t fool God

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  20. Julia on October 25, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    #17 Hawk,

    “I’ve been in the church for 44 years and haven’t encountered leaders who cover up familial abuse or threaten the membership of those who protect victims of abuse. If others have encountered this, it’s obviously reprehensible. We are asked in every temple recommend interview about how we treat family members. Obviously the institutional church is against abuse”

    #2,6,7 all have to do with how a boss, the company and the employee/member interact, and whether those actions are seen as ethical, or in some way toxic.

    I can see that for the majority if members, who will not be intimately involved in cases where the official policy of the church – that abuse is reprehensible – is not what happens, it creates huge internal conflicts for everyone involved. I know many former or inactive members who left because of circumstances similar to mine.

    I volunteer with rape and incest survivor groups, so I am more likely to hear the stories, and see the damage. I recognize that gives me more contact than most members, and I also am very careful to give credit to priesthood leaders who treat abuse as the reprehensible thing that it is. I don’t think I ever said that the church approves of it, but it does happen.

    The OP started out talking about how to choose when to leave a job, and looking at how that might apply to leaving the church. When talking about bishops you discuss their shelf life. It is true that a single bishop is not in their position for life, but he can be in a position long enough for a member to have life long scars from the way they interact with members, even if they are simply dismissing a claim made by someone who has been abused. Unless we want to tell abuse victims that we don’t want them, if they have a priesthood leader who acts in a reprehensible manner, then acknowledging that it is a reason people leave, that they don’t have to be run off for, is important.

    I did not leave the church or lose my testimony, but I did not disclose anything I didn’t have to, to a priesthood leader, for many years. I still am very careful in feeling out a new bishop, finding out where his “sympathies” are, because I have found bishops who thought that criticizing a previous bishop, no matter what the circumstances, was close to apostasy.

    In the OP, you suggest in a number of places that changing wards may be the way to deal with situations that are isolating. For conflicts that are interpersonal, but not abusive, I agree. When it is simply feelings or personality clashes involved, that can be a good option. For abuse victims, there many not be a ward anywhere that isn’t going to have things said or happen that don’t trigger them. If they are lucky, they find a mentor like me, who figured out how to keep my faith while rejecting the abuse and support for abuse that came from men in ward leadership. They might learn to see all men, from the prophet on down as imperfect, and seperate out the man from the mantel. If they can’t do that. If they don’t see justice done, and abusive spouses, fathers, molesters, etc., disciplined and repudiated, we often lose them from the church.

    Victims of abuse, of all forms, learn to tell the difference between those who believe them, and those who don’t. They learn how to sort truth from fiction. It may not be immediate, but if their truth becomes; “I was not important enough to protect or believe, but my abuser was rewarded while abusing me,” that truth becomes incompatible with an infallible church built on infallible leaders. So #6 becomes their breaking point. They leave because the tension between the claims and the reality are to far apart.

    On one hand, I want to say I am glad you haven’t known me, or the many members with similar stories. On the other hand, I have never lived in a ward where there wasn’t at least one other person with experiences similar to mine.

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  21. Usually a lurker on October 25, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    As a top ten list, I think it works well. For me, though, it misses the biggest factor I would leave (although reason #4 comes close), which is that I simply don’t believe it is the one true church, and that belief is expected of members. If I tell the truth, I’m not acceptable to the group, or I’m a project. And it’s hard to live a lie.

    However, I haven’t left, and probably never will, largely because the other 10 things listed have not swung completely to the negative side. I get more positives out of my activity in the church than negatives. It is a good place for me to improve my character, find charity in my heart, and try to become more spiritual.

    As to unrighteous dominion or abuse by church leaders, sadly, I know it happens. The danger is in implying the church itself is the cause of the abuse or the coverup, which I think is the opposite of the truth. Unrighteous men cause the abuse. The church is simply an organization of human beings, most who try to be good men and women, but some who use any advantage they can to dominate or abuse. That is truly evil.

    I can see how abuse from a church member would cause one to leave, absolutely. Because if it’s led by revelation or inspiration, these evil men shouldn’t be in power, right? It’s certainly one of the factors of my disbelief, but I have come to the realization that as the church is full of flawed humans, and decisions are largely made by flawed humans (with a dash of inspiration thrown in), sometimes what results is tragic. But overall the church is a good place for me, and for many others, to be.

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  22. hawkgrrrl on October 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Julia, I have known victims of abuse in the church. I haven’t known them to be protected within the organization. That would be a potentially interesting topic, but I believe it to be sufficiently rare and toxic to outweigh other concerns in many cases. It’s akin to leaving a job because your boss punches you in the face vs just being a bad boss. Big difference. To someone who listens to abuse reports all the time, I’m sure it seems ubiquitous. To a hammer, everything is a nail.

    Usually a Lurker – When I think about my company, there was a time when I was green and I thought I worked for the best in our industry. I looked down at the competition. After some of our senior leaders went to the competition I saw them as traitorous or having given up. I thought things like “it’s better to serve in heaven than to rule in hell.” But that’s was my new employee exuberance. Now I see that the competiton has many great strengths and we have many weaknesses. I see that we are not always as perfect as we say we are. We are complacent sometimes. And unfortunately, I see that it’s up to me to make us as great as I can, and that’s my responsibility. Obviously I liked it better when I still had that new employee patina.

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  23. ji on October 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    I don’t think the top ten reasons people leave a job can be adopted as the top ten reasons people leave a church, unless one’s church experience is a provider-client or other consumerist relationship. But of course, there is some of that among us.

    I have tried to think of a period of inactivity as not such a big deal — I am hopeful that many will come back. We believe so much in personal agency that we must allow for people to come and to go.

    For me, I like to think that my activity has nothing to do with my neighbors or rewards or status — I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I accepted baptism and took Christ’s name on myself — thus, I’m not just a member of the church organization (to the degree that member suggests client or participant) but I am vitally a part of the church organism — I am the church and the church is me. In my frame of mind now, I could never leave.

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  24. Usually a lurker on October 25, 2012 at 9:43 AM


    “Now I see that the competiton has many great strengths and we have many weaknesses. I see that we are not always as perfect as we say we are. We are complacent sometimes. And unfortunately, I see that it’s up to me to make us as great as I can, and that’s my responsibility. Obviously I liked it better when I still had that new employee patina.”

    I love this! I’m trying to get to that point where it’s not about what the church is/does for me but rather for what I can be/do for others in the church. It’s not natural for me–I’m quite introverted and private–but I’d love it if I can get to that point, and be a difference for others. It’s another great reason to stay in the church.

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  25. Chris on October 25, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Hawkgirl, my comments directly relate to #2, #4, and #6. I know a number of people who have left the Church for the issue that I discussed and am sorry that you feel my comments are off-topic. For those who have seen a number of women who have suffered greatly because of ecclesiastical abuse, these issues are real and serious. I know a number of people who have left the Church or are disaffect with the Church in the Salt Lake area because of the points I discussed earlier. This are not isolated incidents.

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  26. Usually a lurker on October 25, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Chris, I have trouble taking your “culture of oppression” comments seriously. They are so over the top as to be unbelievable. If they are true, God help us. But I suspect there’s a lot more to the stories than what you tell. I am in the Salt Lake valley and have been a Mormon for 49 years and have never witnessed or heard of anything like what you describe.

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  27. Martin on October 25, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    While the post is interesting, I think so differently about work and church it’s hard for me to make the analogy. For all the similarities wrt community, self-fulfillment, personal growth, etc., in the end, I go to church because I feel it’s what I should do, and I go work because of what I get out of it. Consequently, the latter is a matter of trade-offs, but the former isn’t. As long as I feel the Lord wants me to go, I’ll go.

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  28. Cowboy on October 25, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    1 – The company is not growing: True, we measure Church “growth” by virtue of baptism numbers, but we measure corporate growth generally by profits and production. Production growth comes when a product line is either improved or expanded through consumer demand. I would argue that the Church “product” has been changing, but it has been changing in ever popular “let’s appeal to a wider audience” kind of way. They do this through quality control, and removing idiosyncracies that were important to the “hard-core” consumers. In other words, the Church isn’t churning out new revelations or exciting interpretations of doctrine (we have to leave this to non-authorities such as Orson Scott Card or the Given’s) that expand our theological world-view, rather they are pairing down and simiplifying those things that made Mormonism distinct. I would say that this will/is hurting the growth of their “hard-core” base.

    2 – There’s the old saying that “good employees don’t leave good business’s, they leave bad managers”. I would think that it applies to everyone they interact with in an organization though. To that extent there is some truth, I think, to this comparison. If you have problems identifying with the community, it’s hard to want to belong. This forces you I think to take the approach in Mormonism of either wearing out and leaving, or criticising the culture and trying to distinguish it from your view of the faith (interestingly, again in the vein of both Orson Scott Card and the Given’s, who are both on record criticising the culture they are separated from, but which is derived from their shared faith???).

    3 – Probably not as comparable to Mormonism, unless we exclude the condition of belief in the eternal truth claims.

    4 – This is probably all to common…but again it forces you into two considerations. a) The Church is not true (or somehow fallen into apostasy; b) The Church is true but the people aren’t, including the GA’s (just a friendly position on the continuum of apostasy).

    5 – Perhaps, but again, in Mormonism this must address the faith component in order to be valid.

    6 – Same as 4.

    7 – Must address faith. If faith is not a factor, then yes. There are many people who evaluate their worth on the basis of their position(s) in the Church. However, most of those that I have observed (yes, I’m making character assessment’s that I’m not qualified to make. This is simply my perception of things) do not leave the Church over such things, but unwanted changes can affect attitudes and perceptions of self-worth.

    8 – Same as 2.

    9 – “put your shoulder to the wheel push along. Do your duty with a heart full of song. We all have work, let no one shirk, put your shoulder to the wheel!”

    10 – Same as 1.

    Abuse – There is something of a protectionist attitude that I have directly experienced, with how high(er) ranking Priesthood holders deal with claims among those within their ranks, but….I don’t think it is commonly to the degree experienced by Julia. Taking her (your) situation at face value, all I can say is that it is tragic, but I agree with Hawkgrrrl, it’s not the norm. I have seen degrees of this, but I have also seen that it can be overcome if the evidence is good enough. Most Bishop’s want to do the right thing, their problem is that they don’t know what that is. A lot of the problems that come from this are not based on a sinister plot to cover each other’s back’s, but rather manifestations of the bigger problems associated with a lay ministry. My advice, don’t take the serious issues to Bishop’s who were arbitrarily placed into their positions. Take it to the relevant authorities, for both the Bishop’s and the victims sake. In my opinion the Bishop’s are often just as much victim’s in these scenario’s as the actual victims.

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  29. Julia on October 25, 2012 at 4:56 PM


    There are lots if things I could say, but there are two things I think are worth addressing here. Your phrase, “I have also seen that it can be overcome if the evidence is good enough.” is disturbing to say the least. A users count on there being little or no evidence. The ones who are very good at grooming and manipulating don’t leave “good evidence” behind, just broken lives.

    I also am not at all sure who you would want to young people to disclose to, to save the poor bishops from being “just as much victims” as the molested and raped children, teenagers and adults in their wards. I can see that it would certainly be very inconsiderate for a 16 year-old to talk to her bishop, less than 24 hours after her rape, and victimize him. What in the world was I thinking?

    Hawk- Maybe a seperate post about this would be appropriate, if it feels like the thread has been hijacked. I am not sure you can really ask for a comprehensive discussion about why people leave, and not include the cultural practices around abuse, but if it feels better as its own thing, that is fine. I have wondered for a while why there is no LDS blog that deals with the variety of issues around sexuality in the church, since most comment threads stop as soon as anyone brings any real sexual issues up, I assume most people must just want to not have it contaminate their lives by even talking about it.

    (Yes, I am done being snarky, and will bow out.)

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  30. Rigel Hawthorne on October 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Here’s why I left my last job–

    People with less tenure than I were moving on for better opportunities and various elements of the work that they had assumed fell to me (and others) who chose to stay. Eventually I felt supersaturated and looked at the only way out as to leave myself. The organization was growing and the scheduling of workers was in a flux to keep up with the growing pains and transitions of the facility to be able to meet demand. My family was growing and the inflexibility of the scheduling made it difficult to continue on.

    My ward has some parallels. When the economy tank, several young families moved away and those that stayed seem to rotate through the leadership callings, creating high demands on two parents of families with young children who are both given heavy callings. I am at a point where I have missed multiple ‘non-block meetings’ that I should have been going to because of family issues and work along with having conference weekend as a break, and its providing me with the reflection of what could my life be like without all these extra meetings and the time away from family and stress that goes with them.

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  31. hawkgrrrl on October 25, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Julia, Mormon Therapist who used to blog with us at Mormon Matters covers the types of topics you are describing.

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  32. Cowboy on October 25, 2012 at 11:47 PM


    Let me help you with this, because my comments seem lost on you. You state that abusers are very good at hiding their abusive behavior. I’m not an expert on the subject, but it makes sense ,so I’ll agree. Bishops are not equipped to handle this. They don’t know (generally) what signs to look for, and frankly they are always going to be skeptical precisely because the abuse is not obvious. So what can a reasonably skeptical Bishop do to get clarity? Interviews!

    So who should a victim go to? Ultimately the police. I understand the need for moral support, but at the end of the police are the ones who can build a case,make arrests (thereby protecting the victims), after wich the guilty can be punished by courts.

    In other words, the problem isn’t (did I mention I’m a church critic?), but a system that arbitrarily places random men in a Ward into positions where they are not prepared, and by extension represents to 16 year old girls that he is an ideal person to get relief from/through in matters of abuse.

    Sorry, I’m not going to pretend that I can speak for your particular experience(s), but I can say that from my own, most Bishops would not tolerate abuse…they just don’t know how to handle abuse claims.this makes things worse for both the victim and the Bishops.

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  33. brjones on October 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Will, the fact that you see this as an issue of “finishing what you started” seems just about right. It surprises me not at all that you can so cavalierly boil an important and complex issue down to a question that is not only completely black and white, but also entirely beside the point. I sincerely hope you’re never in a position to counsel anyone who has real and nuanced concerns. That person will be in need of a thoughtful grown-up, not a cartoonish charicature.

    As always, good to see you, Cowboy.

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  34. Cowboy on October 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM


    Howdy my friend!

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  35. Chris on October 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    usually a lurker, because you have not personally observed spousal abuse by a bishop or stake president does not mean it does not exist or that it is not a serious problem. Sheri Dew, a BYU professor who is an expert in abuse, and a prominent ative LDS physician in the Salt Lake area have told me that they know this is a problem. The physician has treated a number of spouses of SPs and Bishops. He told me that some of these women have suffered severe depression and have been hospitalized. Hence, their statements to police and to Church authorities are often discounted because they have mental illness, illness (which resulted from years of horrific abuse).

    I have talked to neighbors of abuse victims who have told me they were interested in becoming members UNTIl they witnessed the spousal abuse by Church leaders.

    I have observed three incidents but assumed that these were isolated incidents until I related my experiences with a well-respected Doctor of Internal Medicine in the Salt Lake valley, who is also a close relative. He told me that he has treated a number (he did not specify exactly how many, and that information would be confidential) of spouses of bishops and stake presidents who have been seriously abused.

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  36. Cowboy on October 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM


    Nobody, I would guess, argues that it doesn’t “ever” happen. However, to state that it is widespread, and then source a bunch of unverifiable anecdotal information to make your case is a bit unjustified. I live in Provo, I am a fairly outspoken critic of Mormonism, and I have and continue to interact socially and professionally with a number of Bishops, Stake President’s, etc. Granted, that doesn’t make me an expert into their personal lives, but given my familiarity with the culture I would say that you and Julia are proposing a conspiracy theory on scale that would put the Kennedy assassination to shame. Furthermore, when making broad claims like this, the term “abuse” does require a little more definition. In other words, I don’t buy it…and I’m exactly the kind of person who would buy it if it were true!

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  37. Douglas on October 27, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Re: “Abuse” – the situations can range from the so-called victim manipulating events to falsely gain sympathy to the innocent(s) being not only cruelly savaged by one who was supposed to love and protect but not being given reasonable audience to air grievances. The trouble is that we pick both the membership and the leaders from the “hew-mon” race, and handicap ourselves by restricting the Priesthood to the male portion.
    As for reason(s) to quit ones MEMBERSHIP…NEVER. Do you have a testimony or not? If you don’t, then we’d do our utmost to fellowship and teach you, but if after all that you still don’t believe, then by all means go, and good luck to you. The work of the Lord isn’t helped by halfhearted members, and certainly not “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Besides, all the social problems and stupidities of leaders can be addressed by a simple concept: WHOSE Church is it? Is it not the Lord’s? And does not HE want you in it? Then WHY thwart His will over the knuckleheads?
    Now, if you don’t enjoy whom you serve with, or what you’re doing, there is nothing wrong with requesting a release. “Do..or do not…there is no try..”

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  38. Julia on October 27, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Chris: I haven’t ever lived in Salt Lake, so I don’t know much about the specifics in your area. Usually the survivor network is aware if groups of “bad actors,” and while there were some issues that were discussed about Southern Utah 5-6 years ago, I haven’t heard of any wide spread increase of survivors accessing resources. Of course not everyone looks for outside resources, but usually at least some do. Checking in with a few contacts, Utah is pretty average in the numbers of people, as a percentage of population, when controlled for alcohol consumption and drug convictions.

    Cowboy: I am uncomfortable with you saying I am a conspiracy theorist. I personally haven’t been part of or aware of circumstances that involved more than one or two men, and the church did eventually address the problem, once the situation was passed up to the point where Salt Lake or an Area Presidency became involved. I am disappointed that so many bishops don’t seem to be aware of the resources available if they ask for them.
    I am curious, if you or others who have been in leadership positions, have ideas about how to help LDS members connect to community resources, so that bishops are not brought into the situation. Do you think bishops or other leaders should be involved at all, if the person that was abused does go to the police? Would you also want bishops to not talk about sexuality with members? (This is a sincere question. I am trying to imagine how an interview would go with my bishop, if I hadn’t, and wasn’t going to, disclose my status as a survivor.)

    Everyone- I am sorry if I made it sound like I think abuse is happening in a significant number of homes of bishops or other leaders. I have only ever met one person who claimed her abuser was a bishop, and she was his daughter. I fully acknowledged that the volunteer work I do puts me in contact with many more abuse survivors in a year, than most will meet in their lives. A significant percentage (close to 20%?) of the women and young women I work with in a year are LDS, but 80% are from other faiths or religious traditions, and having centralized records in the LDS church does allow for much better tracking of people who the church has concerns about.

    (As one if only five LDS women in our network, I interact with more LDS members than most, and I am the only one comfortable mentoring LDS men so I at least do the intakes of any LDS men who request an LDS intake or mentor, as a higher priority than having a male in one if those roles. I do this as a trained volunteer, but I can’t give ecclesiastical advice, and can’t talk to any church leaders without permission from the person I am mentoring.

    The organization I am involved with gets referrals from law enforcement, counselors, and sometimes from school teachers or principles. It is only a drop in the bucket, and with optimistic estimates saying 1/4 of all women will be molested or sexually assaulted, it is an issue important to me.

    At the request of blog administrators, I am not going to continue discussing that volunteer work here, unless it is the topic of a particular OP. You are welcome to email me or leave comments on my blog, if you want to discuss these issues further. If you would be interested in being involved in a blog that focuses on these issues in the LDS community, feel free to let me know that too. It won’t be soon, but creating one is a long-term goal.)

    I hope everyone has a peaceful weekend!

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  39. Chris on October 27, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Please excuse one last post. Perhaps you may feel it is off-topic, but for those who leave the Church because of abuse by a Church leader, it is certainly on topic. One cannot discount that ecclesiastical abuse is occurring in the Church if one talks to friends or associates of those who are abusers or the abusers themselves.

    During a regional meeting that I attended as a stake Relief Society president, we were counseled to report any abuse we witnessed to proper Church authorities and that the Church had zero tolerance for abuse. I assumed that was true.

    During that time, a friend’s bishop/husband was unfaithful and was abusing her, and she reported it to the stake president. Because her husband was close friends with a GA,the women’s reports were dismissed, although she had police and doctors’ reports. Her hope was that Church leaders would direct her husband to go to marriage counseling and get treatment for his anger issues.

    My husband and I then reported the abuse to her stake president, who again refused to investigate the matter, and then to the Area Authority, where we included copies of the doctors’ reports. This sister even wrote the prophet, pleading for help. My husband and I were then called in by this sister’s stake president, who served in a neighboring stake, and were told if we lived in his stake, we would both be excommunicated. The area authority called my husband and told him he could no longer give priesthood blessings.

    My friend’s husband isolated her from her friends, family, and neighbors. She eventually moved into a women’s shelter and filed for divorce.

    This is NOT an isolated incident. I have observed two other women suffer horrible abuse as well from their husbands who are also bishops or stake presidents and have heard accounts of a number of others. My close relative who is a highly-respected physician, when he observed what my friend and our family experienced, said he treats many abuse victims whose husbands hold positions of leadership in the Church.

    Abused women in the Church often assume that Church leaders will help them. Of course, victims of abuse need to report the abuse to the police and leave their home if they are unsafe, but this is not taught in Church classes, and with the focus on the family, too many victims stay in dangerous relationships until their physical and psychological health is destroyed.

    When victims initially came forward in the Catholic Church and said they had been abused by priests, their reports were initially dismissed. I would suggest that in our Church, we are in the same situation right now because it is impossible for survivors of abuse by ecclesiastical abuse in our Church to be heard. The comments in this blog confirm this!

    Those who attempt to defend survivors are ecclesiastical abuse are ignored, threatened with excommunication, or excommunicated, as happened to Lavina Fielding Anderson, who still attends faithfully. I choose to stay active. If I documented the stories of these women, I would be excommunicated, just as Lavina Fielding Anderson has been. But I refuse to remain silent, even if some of you assume that my information sounds far-fetched. I know what I have witnessed! I am not lying or exaggerating. In fact, I have minimized the abuse I have seen.

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  40. Usually a lurker on October 28, 2012 at 7:14 AM


    I misspoke when I called your comments unbelieveable. Of course I believe abuse happens in the church. The church is made up of people, and some of those are very flawed and make horrible judgments. And while I think bishops and stake presidents are on the whole good men, I’m not sure that they’re better men than the rest of the membership. They simply spend more of their time serving (which would tend to make a man better, I would hope).

    In fact, my great-grandfather was a horrible man to his family while being a stake president, if family stories are to be believed, and I’m sure they are!

    What I don’t believe is that it is a systemic problem. I think the individuals in church leadership positions try very, very hard to help to make families better, stronger, and happier. And they focus much time and effort on exhorting men to be good fathers and husbands.

    What I don’t believe is that anyone (other than an isolated incident, which is also very hard to believe, but I suppose could happen) would turn a blind eye to abuse. These are, on the whole, good people trying to do a good job in their positions. When it is a he-said-she-said situation, I’m sure they may try to err on the side of “do no harm,” because people’s reputations are precious, and there is always the danger of ruining someone’s life with false accusations.

    What I also don’t believe is that one would ever be threatened with ex-communication for calling attention to abuse. Really don’t believe that one. I think there has to be more to that story.

    What I don’t believe is that there is a culture of oppression.

    But I have to say that Julia’s story was heart-wrenching, and my grandpa’s story is heart-wrenching, and I’m horrified that there are evil men and women, even in the church. And some bishops just don’t always know the best way to handle things–which I can certainly see as a contributing reason for some to leave the church, because that’s not really how we view our leaders when learning in Primary, right?

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  41. Usually a lurker on October 28, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    And Chris, I apologize for implying you deliberate misled readers. I just get riled up when people get on a soapbox for their pet issue and bash the church as a whole for mistakes of its membership. But I get on the occasional soapbox myself, so I’m not immune! I do applaud anyone who makes it their mission to help abuse victims. I could actually get on that soapbox myself, if it didn’t include accusations of widescale corruption. (Not saying that you talked about widescale corruption, but I read that into it.)

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  42. Roger on October 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Hawk— your OP brings up a number of good issues but the understandable angst of some members of the commentariat has taken them far and wide. I will be otherwise detained over the next several hours. Please don’t shut this down. I’d like to share some questions and insights as to why I’d stay with a Fortune 100 Company 30+ years yet be inactive but interested in the LDS church over the same period.

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  43. Cowboy on October 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM


    After re-reading the comments I realize that Chris was the person making the widespread insinuations, and you were only referencing a single incident. Sorry for lumping you together into the same basket with the “conspiracy theorist” comparison.

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  44. Julia on October 30, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    Cowboy- I do think abuse is more wide spread than lots of members realize, but I think that is because it is more widespread than most people in general realize. The only real “conspiracy” that I see originates from a users “grooming” victims and their families. It is unfortunate that other people are often unknowingly groomed by society to turn a blind eye.

    Usually A Lurker- I think you are right when you say there is a disconnect between what we learn in Primary and real life. That is okay, as long as we get more nuanced instructions and conversations after we leave primary. I think the challenge becomes making spaces that are safe for victims to share their stories, without feeling attacked. It isn’t just the reputation of the “falsely accused” but also the reputation of a survivor, who is then labelled either promiscuous or a liar, that play into why victims often choose not to speak out.

    In general, I think it is good to have discussions because it at least makes people aware of the potential problems. If you don’t know something is possible, it is hard to see it when it is in front of you.

    Roger- I am interested to hear your thoughts.

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