The following is an exchange I had recently on Reddit. I am subscribed to several religious subreddits. One of them is called “exmormon”. I personally know many Mormons and have studied the religion for a long time. As I read the stories of those who have left the faith I began to notice a pattern of not only leaving the LDS church, but leaving faith all together. I started a thread asking why they thought that was and got a great response that put the majority of what I heard into one response. Here is their response and my replies.
- Mormonism tried to be the religion that incorporated science into it: atomism, heliocentrism, physical God, and because of this many mormons think their faith has to have at least some connection to reality around them. When they realize it doesn’t match up against history and current science of psychology & evolution, they still think that another religion should match up with real science, and none of the big religions do this.
I respect the religion for trying to incorporate science. I think all religions and denominations need to do more of this. I am a Christian and a young-earth creationist who absolutely adores science. I think our faith needs to be more informed than blind. A lot of belief is birthed in blind faith, but I don’t think it needs to stay there. There are incredible apologetic answers out there that many in the faith are unfortunately not aware of. Does it mean at some times we will have to disagree with the consensus’s scientific interpretations? Yes, but not blindly like many may think we do.
- Mormonism was meant to fix the major issues that Deists and other non-Christians were criticizing about Christianity. Mormons become very good at pointing out the flaws in Christianity and many Christian doctrines seem absurd and immoral to them, especially Grace and the Trinity. Mormon criticisms of Christianity sound a lot like Deist criticisms. Many Mormons rejected Christian dogma long before they rejected Mormonism.
That is a great point. Christianity is the foundation for Mormonism, yet Mormon teaching shoots holes in their own foundation – thus when the icing on the cake fails, the whole cake falls too. Grace is a hard concept for most people. Christianity is unique in this. It is the one religion that comes free of charge. We are a transactional people. We do X, we get Y. Islam, Catholicism, and Mormonism are so attractive because you know exactly what is expected of you to be considered “in good standing”. Christianity says it’s not what you do at all. I think when people miss this, they miss it all.
- Mormonism tends to be located in densely mormon areas (Mordor), so there’s not a culture of diversity of religion where people move from church to church. When you leave, it’s usually a weak scattering of tiny Christian churches in your area. It’s just not that robust.
- Mormonism is very black and white. It is either true or it is false. It’s tough to leave Mormonism without also leaving the true/false dichotomy. When you apply that standard to other religions, of course they come off as false to many.
Great point! When any denomination attempts to call themselves “the one true church” we’ve got a red flag. The more than likely scenario is that all denominations have faults because they are all run by fallible man. Just as I can easily create a list of the faults of the LDS church, I can do the same with my own.
- Mormonism demands a lot of sacrifice, and so the realization it wasn’t true is a huge letdown, and it’s traumatic knowing you wasted so much time, money, and your identity. Mormons get burned badly, so they are extra careful about the fantastic claims of Christians, Muslims, etc.
Fair enough. I think we should all be extra careful about fantastic claims. I don’t think any church should ask their possible converts to pray about the truth of their church and go off their feelings. No one should make that big of a decision off of feelings alone. I’m not downplaying the role of the Spirit, just saying that God also gives us a brain to reason with as well. In the Bible, you will never find anyone coming to faith because of a feeling. That’s a very dangerous position to start from, because what happens when that feeling changes… all of a sudden, the church is no longer true? I wouldn’t declare any church true or false based on a feeling. I am a mental health counselor and have studied the unreliability of our feelings. In fact the Bible says the same thing. Our heart is wicked above all.
- Part of leaving Mormonism is you have to deal with the realization that your spiritual feelings that you thought were the Holy Ghost/from God were unreliable, but they were super real and convincing at the time. You realize you just can’t trust spiritual feelings as a barometer for truth. But then Christians and Muslims and others rely on similar (if not the exact same) feelings as a witness of being “saved” or that the Quran is so magically beautiful, etc.
Yes! There is beauty in religion and there are spiritual feelings associated with the Spirit, but if this is the only barometer we use, I think we’ve missed a LOT and our faith is weak and easily swayed.
- Once you see how a religion can start, how it can be perpetuated, and how you yourself can be taken in, it’s so much easier to see how Bronze Age people can come up with the seeds of a “great” religion which then grows and develops over time to the mature faith traditions we see today. And how lots of people can be dead wrong about their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Yes, conceptually I can see how a person might downgrade the Bible to a game of telephone passed down poorly over the ages by unlearned men – but actual study of Biblical history / the process of writing, transcribing is truly unbelievable. Most of our churches don’t do a great job in teaching these amazing historical facts. The Bible is a collection of 66 different books, written by over 40 authors (shepherds to kings), on 3 different continents, over 1500 years yet tells us a cohesive narrative free of contradiction fulfilling prophesies the others didn’t even know about and stands up to scientific scrutiny. It is also the only holy book describing a God outside of time, space, and matter – thus the only God available to create them. The God of the Bible is also the foundation for the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) proving cross-correlation.
- Part of leaving Mormonism is you have to realize most of the Quad is just made up scripture. It’s not real. But you believed it once, you read it and thought it was true stories. And it reads very much like the Bible. Realizing all these other scriptures are false and second guessing the Bible as a 100% literally true account is just a short step.
Well I wouldn’t say that 100% of the Quad is false. The vast majority of it is basically reworded scriptures from the Bible anyways. It really doesn’t present all that much unique doctrines. I would say the unique doctrines are false. I bet that’s less than 5% of the overall Quad. There are a lot of good things in the LDS church. I wonder what you mean when you say 100% literal true account. I often get called a literalist since I am a young-earth creationist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that the scriptures are full of allegory, poetry, prophesy, etc. It just means that when the Bible describes a historical event, that it is describing an actual, true historical account.
- Part of leaving Mormonism is you have to confront your own biases and many go through a period of obsession about how they think and how they could be so wrong. It makes you go from even a super credulous person to a skeptic. Religions do not tend to survive skeptical minds.
I don’t see skeptical minds as a problem. Yes I think Mormons are taught to never question their beliefs. That is a weak position that is basically admitting that it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I think authentic Christianity should encourage skeptical questions. Unfortunately the problem with this is that a lot of people research the other side’s questions and answers and then stop there. They feel satisfied that their fears were realized. The Bible calls that hearing what their itching ears were wanting to hear. They usually never return back to people like me – apologists who can answer back those difficult questions. I’ve found that when I’ve questioned it and researched both sides, that is the time I’ve grown the most in my faith.
I asked an actual current Mormon about this topic and they added a great point. Just as with any atheism, those who left the church to go to atheism obviously never really knew Jesus personally. That would be like denying my own mother exists if I’ve truly met her and know her. Christians don’t just believe in God, we know God – we believe He will do what he promises. Perhaps the LDS church does not do enough on the front of making a personal relationship real to its members. Perhaps the traditions and reverence creates an unintentional hindrance to developing an authentic relationship instead of surface level traditional religious activity. I think Jesus himself taught this in his vocal moments against the Pharisees. It’s not about religiosity. It’s about relationship.