An Explanation for Why “You Can Leave the Church, but You Can’t Leave it Alone”

(My first attempt at a book chapter for a proposed book: “The Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis: A Positive, Practical, and Personal Approach.”  Feedback is welcome!)

One of the most common (and more hurtful) criticisms you may hear during your Mormon faith crisis is that, “…you can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.”

Why does this assertion seem to cut so deeply? Some quick ideas:

  • It seems to reinforce the common misconception that you lost your belief in Mormonism because you were offended in some petty way, and can’t just “get over it.”  It implies that you are stuck in small-minded negativity, obsessing about something relatively unimportant — like a child who can’t recover from their lollipop falling into the dirt.
  • If feels patronizing – like the faith crisis equivalent of a “pat on the head” – and it does nothing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the decision to leave.  Specifically, it does not acknowledge the deception and harm that the Mormon church has wrought upon you, and upon the people you care about.
  • In fact, it seems to function as an attempt to silence people with sincere, legitimate concerns, as if to preemptively protect the church from any criticism.
  • It shows little insight into the fact that your entire identity has been built within the walls of Mormonism, and that it may take time and a great deal of processing to rebuild your identity, your inner world, and your life.
  • It illuminates how quickly “othered” persons are shamed and ousted from their own communities.
  • It displays a somewhat calloused insensitivity and lack of empathy for the excruciating situation you are now experiencing.  It dramatically minimizes the difficulty of navigating a Mormon faith crisis, and of the heart-wrenching decision it usually is to step away from LDS belief and participation.

As someone who has supported tens of thousands of Mormons in faith crisis, I am here to tell you that you are likely doing EXACTLY what you “should” be doing in response to your faith crisis, namely:

  • It is entirely NORMAL to obsessively read books and web articles on Mormonism, and to constantly listen to Mormon-themed podcasts during a faith crisis.  After all – there is a mountain of information that has been kept from you, by the church, for a very long time.
  • It is entirely NORMAL to feel anger, along with the urge to lash out at the church, its leaders, its apologists, and its defensive members. After all, anger is an essential emotion.  It is a critical stage in the grieving process.  Anger helps to focus our attention.  Anger helps motivate us to action. Finally, anger is known as a “secondary emotion.”  As you spend time exploring your angry feelings, you will discover more primary emotions of loss, sadness, and betrayal.  Such exploration will ultimately teach you how to avoid being deceived again, and will motivate you to make necessary changes.
  • It is entirely NORMAL to feel like you want to speak to your closest loved ones about these troubling discoveries, and about the high stakes of your subsequent decisions. Given the professed importance of families within Mormonism, along with the very high stakes of this decision, why WOULDN’T you want to speak extensively to everyone you love about your faith crisis?  This urge to reach out to loved ones is not only normal, it is psychologically protective for all parties involved – if the parties are able/willing to engage.
  • Finally, it is entirely NORMAL to scour websites like on a daily basis to seek validation and virtual support – especially when support from close family and friends is lacking.  If family and friends are not able to support you through this crisis, it is essential that you find people who can/will support you.  You will need validation, encouragement, feedback, and wisdom to avoid getting too discouraged, and to avoid making big mistakes.

In short, you will likely experience a great deal of “weeping, wailing, and gnashing your teeth” during your Mormon faith crisis….at least until you have fully processed and healed from the fallout of this transition.

Now, for the main focus of this chapter: a quick summary of why so many Mormons “leave the church, but can’t leave it alone”:

1) Separating from a Fundamentalist Religion is Brutal.  And it just.  Takes.  Time. 

It is absolutely normal, and usually unavoidable to spend months, if not years, processing one’s separation from a fundamentalist religion such as Mormonism.  This is equally true for ex-members of other fundamentalist religious groups such as Orthodox Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, etc.  And it makes perfect sense.

When so many fundamental aspects of your life, including…
— your identity
— your core values and sense of morality
— your relationships with parents/siblings/spouse/children/extended family
— your friendships
— your community
— your sense of spirituality and meaning/purpose in the world
— the way you spend your time
— at times, your source of income
— all the way down to the food you eat, the ways in which you do and don’t have sex, and the very underwear that you wear…

…when all of these aspects of your life are either conditioned upon, or inextricably woven into your religious beliefs and practices, it is perfectly reasonable and healthy for you to take months, if not years, to:

  • Gather and process all of the new information that was systematically withheld from you by church leadership,
  • Grieve all of the losses that this faith crisis brings,
  • Fully consider the implications of the new information on your life,
  • Simultaneously manage a complicated life while doing all of this learning and processing,
  • Figure out what your next steps should be, and
  • Rebuild a new life out of the rubble that is now surrounding you.

In fact, it would be incredibly ODD and UNHEALTHY to simply walk away from a religion like Mormonism without significant efforts to learn, discuss, and emotionally process this change with the people that you love most.  From a mental health perspective, I would be infinitely more worried about someone who walked away quietly from such overwhelming changes without a peep, than I would about someone who spent a significant amount of time grieving and processing their faith crisis.  For the quiet “leaver,” I would worry that they have not adequately processed their experiences, and instead are stuffing/suppressing their feelings in unhealthy ways, and/or self-medicating to numb their feelings.  This type of avoidance/suppression helps no one, and often has toxic or even fatal consequences for the individual.

Don’t do this.  Silence and/or delays in speaking up are so often the “killers.”

When in pain…when in doubt…when you are struggling — speak up about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns to people who are “safe.”  And don’t let anyone shame, intimidate, or gaslight you into silence.

2) Organizations that Intentionally Mislead or Deceive their Members Should be Held Accountable.

As difficult as the reality is for believing/faithful Mormons, it is undeniable that the Mormon church has deceived/misled many of its members for well over a century.  As faithful Mormon historian Richard Bushman recently acknowledged at a private gathering of questioning Mormons, “I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can’t be sustained.”  This is an direct acknowledgement by the Mormon church’s leading historian that the church has been teaching a false narrative to its members for generations.  A full account of the history behind this deception is carefully documented in Greg Prince’s book “Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History.”  To summarize, the Mormon church has known for decades about several deeply troubling aspects of its official historical narrative, including the following church-confirmed facts:

  • Joseph Smith’s re-telling of his “First Vision” story changed significantly over time, calling into question the credibility of his claims.
  • Joseph Smith and his family/close friends spent years engaging in the superstitious, deceptive, fraudulent, and illegal activity of “digging for buried treasure” for money by use of a magic peep stone, calling into question his/their basic credibility.
  • Joseph Smith did not produce the Book of Mormon through the process of translating the golden plates using the Urim and Thumim, as Mormons were taught for over a century.  Instead, Joseph Smith produced the text of the Book of Mormon through the use of the same magic peep stone that he used to deceive others in his treasure digging expeditions (see above).
  • The Book of Mormon is not a historical record of the Native Americans (as archeological, anthropological, linguistic, and genetic science now demonstrates conclusively) – as Mormons were taught for over a century.
  • Native Americans are not descendants of Jared and Lehi from the Book of Mormon (as DNA evidence now demonstrates), as Mormons AND Native Americans were taught for over a century.
  • The Book of Abraham is not a translation of an Egyptian papyrus, as Joseph Smith claimed.
  • Joseph Smith was not a monogamist, as faithful Mormons were led to believe for close to a century.  Instead, Joseph Smith married and likely had sex with over 30 women in his lifetime, many of them teenagers, some as young as 14, and several of them married to other men at the time he married them (see polyandry).
  • As if Joseph’s participation in polygamy and polyandry aren’t disturbing enough, we have learned over the past few decades that Joseph repeatedly lied to those around him, including to his own wife, Emma, to hide these polygamous practices.  We have also learned that Joseph used incredibly abusive techniques to both coerce young girls and their parents into acceding to his polygamous advances, and to silence/punish those who dared speak openly about these secret practices.  Joseph also sent faithful Mormon men on foreign missions, only to then proposition their wives while they were away.
  • The LDS temple ceremony was directly plagiarized from the Masonic temple ceremony.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

It is difficult enough for a lifelong believing Mormon to discover that these facts are the origins of their faith.  It is infinitely more disturbing and outrageous to learn that top church leaders have:

  • Known about these troubling issues for decades (if not a century),
  • Systematically hid this information from its membership, and
  • Silenced and/or punished anyone who dared speak openly about these concerns (e.g., Juanita Brooks, Fawn Brodie, the September Six, Brent Metcalfe, Jeremy Runnells, me, etc.).

As lifelong, committed Mormons become increasingly aware that we have been systematically deceived by the church that we fully trusted – it is the duty of those who are in a position to safely speak up to hold the Mormon church accountable for its deception of generations of faithful members, and to protect ourselves and our loved ones from further deception.

3) Many faithful Mormons and post-Mormons either have been hurt, or continue to be hurt, by the church’s damaging doctrines and policies.  If we don’t speak out against this harm, we become complicit in the harm.

While the Mormon church has done much good for many individuals and families, it is irrefutable that it has also caused a significant amount of damage.  A small sampling of damaging LDS doctrines and policies includes:

  • Withholding meaningful authority and leadership opportunities from women and girls in the church, and providing girls/women with a stunted vision as to their potential (e.g., “a woman’s place is in the home”).
  • Teaching children, youth. and adults extremely damaging messages regarding sexuality, masturbation, and personal worthiness.
  • Teaching gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons that their core identity is evil, and encouraging incredibly damaging “remedies” such as reparative therapy, mixed-orientation marriage, and celibacy.  These teachings and policies have led to an epidemic of depression, broken marriages, and suicidality for our LGBTQ youth and adults.
  • Striving to impose its religious beliefs and practices on the non-Mormon public through legal initiatives such as:
    • Defeating the Equal Rights Amendment.
    • Supporting Proposition 8 in California, which attempted to deny California LGBTQ citizens the right to marry.
    • Attempting to defeat Proposition 2 in Utah — an initiative that seeks to provide Utahns with serious illnesses a viable, natural treatment for debilitating pain and nausea, and help to decrease the opioid epidemic.
  •  Protecting sexual predators at the expense of sexual abuse victims.
  • Teaching members for over a century that dark skin is a curse from God, and that people of color were “less valiant” in the pre-existance.
  • Providing Native American church members with a wholly fictitious (i.e. Lamanite) identity.
  • Sponsoring programs like the “Indian Placement Program,” which basically amounted to cultural genocide.
  • Systematically shaming and ostracizing members who lose faith in the church.  This practice stresses marriages, too often leading to the fracturing of otherwise healthy/happy families.
  • Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

We are all familiar with the phrase, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men/women to do nothing.”  If doubting and disaffected Mormons remain silent in response to the harm that they witness within Orthodox Mormonism, they risk being complicit in said harm.

Consequently, it is absolutely essential that doubting Mormons/post-Mormons openly question, and if they feel safe and “called” to do so, publicly hold the Mormon church accountable for the damage that it is causing its members, and the general public.

Remember.  Silence is so often the killer.

Am I saying that every doubting Mormon or Post-Mormon is in a safe place to speak out, or that it would be healthy for them to do so? Absolutely not.  For many post-Mormons, it would be unsafe or unhealthy to speak out publicly about their faith crises.  Others are simply not interested in the pain/difficulty that would accompany speaking out, and simply want to move on with their lives – which is also a normal/reasonable option.

I should add that there are definitely healthier/more effective ways to speak out, vs. less healthy/less effective ways to speak out.  We will discuss this in future chapters.

4) We Come by the Desire to “Proclaim the Truth” Honestly

As orthodox Mormons, we were taught:

  • That truth matters.
  • That we have an obligation to share/spread the truth, as we know it.
  • To alleviate the suffering of others.
  • To be courageous, and to “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.”
  • That the health/safety of family members is more important than anything else.

These values do not simply disappear once we lose our faith in Mormonism.

The Mormon church sends out tens of thousands of missionaries each year to bear testimony of the truth as they see it, even though Mormon beliefs are considered offensive by many other religious and non-religious people.  As I write this chapter, the Mormon church has 67,049 full time missionaries across the world.  Orthodox Mormons are also taught “Every Member a Missionary!” 

Why is it OK for believing Mormons to share their truth/testimonies with the world (even as those truths/testimonies condemn other religious traditions as either false, or inadequate), but somehow not OK for those who leave the Mormon church to share their testimonies/truth as well?

Recent reports from LDS church headquarters suggest that, as of 2018, over half of returned missionaries end up becoming inactive from the church.  For these missionaries who end up leaving the church, many will likely carry their missionary zeal into their post-Mormon lives.  It is only natural (for many) to do so.

As Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds recently said in the HBO Documentary “Believer” — “A determined Mormon is a scary thing, I can tell you that, because they don’t stop.”  This is often true of Mormons — whether they remain in or out of orthodox belief and/or church activity.

5) It is Hard to “Leave the Church Alone” When the Church Won’t Leave us Alone

It is common for people who leave Mormonism to feel disrespected by their believing family, friends and community.  Examples include:

  • Being talked about, and treated like a “project” by believing family, friends, ward leadership, and ward members.
  • Being “love bombed” by ward members, in hopes that you might return to belief/activity.
  • Church members sending missionaries or home teachers/ministers to your home to “re-activate” you.
  • After moving away from your ward to get a “fresh start” as a non-believer, having your address be passed on to the new ward leadership, such that you feel as though you cannot escape the reach/judgment of the church.
  • Family and friends may judge and gossip about you.
  • It is common for ex-Mormons to hear untrue rumors spread by believing members about the causes of their disaffection, including that they left the church because of having a pornography addiction, or because of an extramarital affair.
  • It is not uncommon for friends or even family to no longer feel “safe” having you around them, or their children, because of your “apostasy.”
  • It is also common for church leadership to monitor the behavior and/or social media activity of an ex-Mormon, and potentially threaten them with church discipline (or even excommunicate them) if they speak up in ways that are perceived as threatening to the church.
  • If religious differences end up permanently fracturing family relationships or friendships, the ex-Mormon is left (possibly for the rest of their life) feeling as though the church robbed them of closeness to the people they love most.  This breeds anger and resentment that can last an entire lifetime.

Thomas McConkie once referenced the Mormon church to me in this way: “A cult is any organization that won’t let you leave with your dignity intact.”

In this vein, it is perhaps understandable how sometimes the anger and sadness that follows the relational damage of a faith crisis can cause an ex-Mormon to direct anger at the church and its remaining members.  If the church has destroyed some of your most cherished relationships, why wouldn’t you be angry, and try to take your anger out on the church?


To summarize, the process you are going through as a questioning/post-Mormon is an essential and healthy one for your personal development.  It can’t and shouldn’t be hurried, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be shamed or gaslighted into avoidance.  While the process of navigating will most certainly be uncomfortable and inconvenient for the orthodox believers around you, they can take solace in the fact that you will eventually and naturally “leave the church alone” just as soon as you have fully processed and healed from the completely understandable and justified shock and disruption that a Mormon faith crisis brings.

Ultimately, this is what the “Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis” book/podcast/project is about.  We hope to provide Mormons in faith crisis with a positive, practical, and personal guide through this complicated and painful journey of navigating a Mormon faith crisis.  Our ultimate goal is to help you transform this incredible challenge you are facing into the greatest gift of your life.  We have helped tens of thousands of others successfully navigate this process, and we’re excited to provide you support as well.

Next essay: What orthodox Mormons really mean when they say, “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.”


Comments 27

  1. Love this!! It really helps to validate and reassure that what I experienced is normal. It is so hard to have a faith crisis and the faith transition is proving to be hard as well. Thankfully my husband is in this with me but our married children are still very much true believing, active members. We want them to know the truth but, it seems like no matter how sensitive we are it never goes well so we just don’t talk about it. I want them to study this out and learn for themselves what we know but, the fear and the influence from their spouses and in-laws holds them back. At times I have even felt unworthy and not good enough to be the grandparent to their future child, it is absolutely heart breaking and devastating. My parents and siblings pretend nothing happened and ignore the elephant in the room. How do you do it, help people know the truth without offending them? I am wanting to go to a Mormon Stories workshop soon to hopefully get some help with navigating all of this.

  2. I think something helpful would be reference notes throughout when discussing the specific parts of Mormonism that are fraudulent. This could help individuals find more sources to ratify and verify their process. Additionally, instead of the “Etc. Etc. Etc.” you could replace it with “See more at this and this and this source.” Very good read. It very much mirrored my own experience.

  3. I remembering sharing with my best friend TBM sister that I was disassociating myself from the Mormon church. She said something like well separating the wheat from the chaff. This really hurt me to the core. In essence she was saying you are worthless. I said please never say that again, especially to some one who already is
    afraid, hurt, and incrediable lonely. That is so hurtful. In retrospect she was taught or programmed to say that from the Mormon church. She said she didn’t really understand how hurtful it was, and she would not use it again. But this is exactly my mission to help these blind mormons see what harmful things that are still being taught. No one has to leave the mo church if they don’t want to go. But please use kindness to the people who do. Wow one minute best friends ( United by Mormonism ). The next minute I am lonely chaff. Janie Hamai

  4. This made me almost cry with how it was so spot on. My jaw was on the floor. My LDS friends and family roll their eyes and scoff at my concerns, especially when I got involved in the Protection LDS Children movement.

    Leaving after 30 years of orthodox Mormonism was heart breaking. I’m almost 40, and I feel so lost in mainstream society. Like a toddler compared to everyone else out here. And I can’t even be mad at the ones who roll their eyes. Because I said the exact same things to doubters and leavers. I was so brainwashed and I feel like I was seeing through mud.

    I’ll stop here, but you can email me at any time. I’d love to contribute to your stories

  5. “You can leave the church but can’t leave it alone…”

    This is a double standard. Mormons routinely hold lessons speculating as to why we exmos have left. That speculation always disparages us. Why? Looking back, it seems to be to scare you into compliance. The church causes our believing loved ones to look down on us, pity us, distrust us, and suspect us. We know it, we’ve been there for those lessons, we read the playbook, and probably repeated the same nonthinking lines. Now, on the other side of belief, we have learned how inaccurate the sentiment is, and it’s infuriating. Mormons do not take kindly to criticism against the church, why should exmormons take it on the chin when the church wrongfully smears their character? Leave and just accept of all that? Pfft.

  6. I am glad I am not alone! I am obsessed with reading about the churches history. I used to be more bitter but it just really fascinates me. I kept thinking well maybe these things they don’t tell us burn i hear are not true, who knows what is true on the internet. Then I read the new church made Saints book that has on the cover “the standard for truth”. They sugar coat it, but it totally confirms things they used to hide. It talks about Joseph marrying multiple wives, and that he didn’t tell Emma about as well as marrying other men’s wives. I could see justifying stories about looking in a hat and alternate accounts of the first vision, but hiding from your wife that you are married to teenagers? Kudos to the church I guess for not hiding as much anymore, but I guess they can’t really in this time of the internet. I just feel like it confirms so much what I was hearing that I don’t know how anyone that reads the Saints book can still believe.

  7. I enjoyed reading your first book chapter.

    I think most people are born into the religion of their parents, and others simply jump in the bandwagon in order to belong.

    Perhaps part of gaining a “testimony” of the truthfulness of a church and its doctrine is vetting current and former church leaders and church governance for integrity, honesty, reliability and credibility. When there are mistakes, miscommunication, poor policy, etc., they should be proactively acknowledged and be transparent, instead of being hidden by a façade, spin or half-truths. For various reasons, people don’t adequately investigate their religion’s truth claims.

    Later in life some members start to properly investigate their religion to validate things in their minds and get answers for their cognitive dissonance. They look at the real reasons for why they believe instead of merely the cultural reasons they’ve adopted. When one experiences new empirical evidence on their path in life then thinking might change – you can’t un-ring that bell when you experience new credible facts that you didn’t know before, especially when you’ve seen the man behind the curtain and discover that the emperor has no clothes. So, you learn things you didn’t know that you didn’t know.

    For a vast array of reasons many former members won’t leave the church alone, nor should they.

  8. I think that it is also true that the longer you have been a believer and the more devout you have been is a partial predictor of how long it will take to “get over it.” A 20 year old will move on much easier than a 60 year old. The church creates who you are. It takes so much effort and processing to unravel it all. One who has been a TBM for a long time needs time, resources and energy to put themselves back together under a new paradigm.

  9. It is comparable to being a Madoff client and realizing the whole thing was a fraud. You get your money out but many of your friends and family are still in, and encouraging their children and others to invest their money, time and make major life decisions based on his principles. When you try to tell them, everyone says leave them alone; they are happy getting their fake statements every month and believing they are doing a good thing …..

  10. John, when I believed that is was true, I had a missionary zeal to spread the “truth”. Now that people know the truth, Theystill have that same zeal to spread the truth as they know it now.

  11. Thank you, John. Sometimes I wish I could leave the Church alone. I look forward to the completion of your book and have no doubt it will be a huge help to many.
    One correction: the bullet ……………..To be courageous, and to “Do what is right, let the consequence follows.” I think should be “follow”.

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  12. One more suggestion:
    In the secttion ” A small sampling of damaging LDS doctrines and policies includes:
    I feel you should include the mental and emotional baggage of eternal polygamy that many women struggle with for almost their entire lives while dealing with the cognative dissonance of believing in a “loving” God who would wish this pain and suffering upon His daughters. Just a thought.

  13. I LOVE that you’re doing this. I’ve been doing research from the “brain map” side of things with regard to “faith crisis”.
    I’m happy to contribute or help with editing. You go John!

    Wendy Perry, LPC

  14. John,
    I’m so impressed with the outline for the first chapter. After reading the draft I would certainly buy the book. You address my biggest concern in this chapter, and that is the damage that is done through gaslighting. Maybe gaslighting can be its own chapter. I have friends that have been married to a narcissistic spouse. It’s amazing to me how a narcissist can spin reality to benefit themselves and make their partner look like the guilty one. The same thing happens in the Church. The Church does an amazing job of spinning tales to make the honest truth seeker look like the bad guy. The honest truth seeker, whether in an organization or a marriage, is open to truth, even the truth that they themselves are part of the problem. A narcissist never takes responsibility for being any part of the problem. The Church is just like the narcissistic spouse who will never consider the remotest possibility that they may be part of the problem and members believe their tales and minimize and discount the truth seeker.
    Just my 2 cents worth. Thanks for the opportunity to give feedback. Can’t wait for the book to come out!

  15. John,
    Based on just the draft of chapter 1, I would purchase your book. If I were to give any suggestion, I would like to have examples or some helpful analogies that illustrate the damaging effects of gaslighting or maybe have a chapter dedicated to this harmful tactic. I have friends and family members that are either married to or have been married to narcissistic personalities. I never cease to be amazed at the tales a narcissist will spin to pass full blame to a partner and avoid accepting any responsibility for any problems in the relationship. The narcissist becomes very skilled at gathering allies, becoming the victim, and getting others to take their side. I see the Church as the narcissistic spouse that gathers allies by spinning tales and making it seem as though the honest truth seeker is the perpetrator. What is heartbreaking is to witness the Church standby and watch as members treat a person struggling with their faith in unchristian ways, especially when they are the cause of the faith crisis in the first place. That’s just my 2 cents worth. I’m confident the book will be wonderful, with or without my suggestion. Thank you, John, for your desire to write this book. I can’t wait for it to come out!!!

  16. One suggestion I have which helped me in my faith crisis and transition out of Mormonism, and it may be that you’ve considered this for a different section of your book, is to also explain why controlling organizations like Mormonism use such language and encourage their membership to turn inward to the “safety” of the group and exclude and denigrate those who are faltering in their faith or who have left the group.

    Once I realize that, in many (not all) cases it was a reflexive response that was more of a defensive reaction to bolster their own faith and keep their own “spiritual bookshelves” from falling down, I was able to empathize more with the accuser and come to an understanding that it was less about condemning me than trying to keep their own worldview intact. To what extent that was true for each accuser I’ll probably never know, but in giving that benefit of doubt to people I found that the sting was lessened for me and my ability to see through their eyes was increased. Removing a sense of personal animosity for my choice helped me avoid a lasting feeling of pain and shame and helped me retain some (not all) friendships and relationships that I would otherwise have lost.

    Understanding there is some sense of fear, pain, and shame on both sides helps keep the “me vs. you” feelings out of person-to-person interactions and keep it focused on the “me vs. organization” where so much of the pain originates from for so many who have a crisis of faith. Also, understanding that many people find comfort in abdicating their choice making to the organization helps one see that such statements are simply a recitation of phrases an vernacular that is taught by the organization to be used in such scenarios. If you’ve allowed yourself to be an automaton then it’s understandable that you’ll take a myopic view of someone leaving your organization and your reactions will be along the lines of organizationally approved methods.

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  17. Really good stuff. I suspect it could be a useful read for not only those having the faith transition, but for their loved ones, too. (Friendly edit on the Thomas McConkie quote: it’s “intact”, not “in tact”. )

  18. I think you missed one very important reason for the, “leave the church but can’t leave the church alone” narrative. By framing disaffected ex-members in this way, the church conveys a stronger sense of the persecution complex, thus validating everything the church teaches (because Satan always fights against what’s right). Therefore, “can’t leave the church alone” shows that we have been won over by the evil one and reaffirms the church’s truth claims to those already inclined to believe such drivel.

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  19. i dont know where to begin other than to say you’ve hit it on the head. I’m struggling so badly right now, and there’s virtually nobody for me to talk to. I’m in the ultimate trap. I’m damned if i stay in my marriage, I’m damned if I don’t. No way around it. This clever little line about leaving the church but not being able to leave it alone it crap. Another great example of gaslighting techniques. I would add one other important thought: what would you feel like if you contributed $225,000 to a cause you found to be fraudulent? Yeah, I think think most people would find a way to say something.

    1. Sometimes I want to count how much money I have to the church but I came to my peace when I remembered my mom shopping at bishop store house when we were kids and she was feeling completely grateful for a system like this. I always go back to gratitude and say that I did the best that I could with what I knew for that time in my life.

  20. I’m ready to purchase this book, if this first chapter is consistent with the rest! Excellent work, breaking this down into clear language. Thank you for writing it.

    I second what some others have said about why TBM people feel a need to use the “… can’t leave it alone” couplet, as well as most of the other rationalizations that assign motives to departing ex-members. Having been on the TBM side of this interaction, it seems to me that it has more to do with a subconscious awareness that one has unease of one’s own, and that any openness toward truly hearing the disaffected person’s reasoning, could serve to wake one up to one’s true unknowingness. The church sets up this dynamic by allowing no validation of individual truth or inner authority.

    Also, THANK YOU for calling the “Indian Placement Program” exactly what it was; a deliberate cultural genocide. I hope you’ll consider not qualifying that fact with phrases like, ‘kind of’, or, ‘sort of’. The church has denigrated and trivialized indigenous culture and spirituality, everywhere it goes, but the Placement Program was an out-and-out attempt to use American First Peoples as a validation tool for the Church, by taking First People children, erasing their spiritual connections, indoctrinating them with LDS belief structures, and then pointing to them as “Lamanites” become “delightsome” “Nephites”. The results seemed to provide many members a deep glow of satisfaction that their reality construct had been proven solid and perfect. I wonder why it’s not mentioned more often in the public discourse on the Church and its machinations.

    A suggestion;
    When you mention Utah prop 2, you refer somewhat euphemistically to a “… viable, natural treatment…”. I suggest you call it by its proper name. Otherwise, it looks too much like the kind of laquer the church uses for potentially controversial truths.

    Thanks again for writing this book. I’m sure it will help many people. Your podcasts have been the final hand of help I needed in my own years – long journey out. I intend to resign in December. A Solstice gift to myself, my family, and, I believe, my church community. Authenticity is a gift to all.

  21. I found many helpful perspectives in your article, but your last paragraph was disturbing. You strongly suggest that the end result of navigating a mormon faith crisis is leaving the church. This is false. The end result of a faith crisis may just as well be a renewed or reconstructed faith in the church. Your book/podcasts will not have your readers best interests at heart if you don’t address both outcomes with the same exuberance and integrity.

  22. Pingback: Sie können die Kirche verlassen, sie aber nicht in Ruhe lassen | openfaith

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