Understanding Why People Leave the Church, and How to Help
The “Why Mormons Question” video, by John Dehlin, provides an excellent overview of the issues that many church members are currently facing. This is a great place to start for those who wish to understand why some members question or leave the church:
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf presented the same information reported in the “Why Mormons Question” report in his recent October 2013 conference address:
You will notice that John Dehlin’s YouTube video was published February 2013, while President Uchtdorf’s talk was delivered in October 2013. October conference talks are generally completed during the preceding July in order for peer-review and translations to take place. This indicates that President Uchtdorf may have had exposure to Dehlin’s study and was addressing these concerns. If President Uchtdorf didn’t take material for his talk directly from the study, it seems he may have had enough conversations with questioning members to open his eyes to the many complex issues leading people to doubt. The report was first presented to the General Authorities in 2012.
The Gentle Awakening series provides a concise introduction to our church issues and is divided into five parts:
- Introduction: Is it possible that we might be mistaken?
- Foundational Problems: What are the real issues about our beginnings of which we may not have been told the whole truth?
- Post-Foundational Problems: What are the real issues that arose after our beginnings of which we may not have been told the whole truth?
- Theological Problems: If this is Christ’s true church, wouldn’t it follow His teachings?
- Roadmap: What should I do now?
To view the Gentle Awakening in a single document, click here.
Another excellent overview is provided by Jeremy Runnells, who was asked by a CES director to share his concerns after experiencing a crisis of faith. As you read the letter, it is apparent that Jeremy became somewhat disillusioned with the church, so his evaluation of the issues is rather critical. However, his sources are considerably accurate and his information is essential to anyone who wishes to understand the truth regarding the issues. His letter is located at cesletter.com.
The FAIR apologists responded to the CES letter. (An apologist is a person who attempts to defend faults or problems with the church.) Their replies appear to be either insufficient, or in many cases, they confirm the validity of the problems. In some cases their answers are even misleading or dishonest. Jeremy Runnells has provided a rebuttal to their responses which is very detailed and accurate. You can read his letter, then you can read the apologist response, and then his rebuttal to their response, in order to see the issues from both sides. (Link: Debunking FAIR’s Response to the CES Letter)
An Additional Note About FAIR: Over the past few months, the FAIR website has made significant changes. Formerly, each FAIR article provided a problem statement that outlined the main issue or concern. These problem statements, however, validated the problems as legitimate for many readers. Thus, FAIR has since removed problem statements that were viable and now only provides the statements that are more easily disproved in favor of apologetics. We are witnessing an increasingly dichotomized, or polarized, position now where the gaps between the “critical” and “faithful” views of the issues are rapidly growing.
Another great problem with the apologists is that they already have their conclusions formed before even examining the evidence. It should probably be the other way around. One should form conclusions after weighing all the evidence, rather than ignoring most of the evidence and searching until you can find some small piece of evidence to support your already drawn conclusions. “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” (Sherlock Holmes, in A Scandal in Bohemia)
An objective position for evaluating the issues comes from Mormon Think, which has reached millions of hits per month by many people seeking answers:
A lesser-known but thoughtful treatment of the top 20 issues in Mormonism is provided by Dr. Jim Day:
Other Helpful Resources
Mormon Essays: Links to the church’s essays found on LDS.org, which contain apologetic information attempting to justify many of the problematic issues. http://mormonessays.com
Latter-day Perspectives: A list of the most problematic issues dealing with Mormonism, and corresponding links for further research on each one. http://latterdayperspective.com
Why People Leave: An overview of some of the bigger issues. http://whytheyleave.blogspot.com/
The Fledgling’s Tale: The perspective of someone who found out the shocking truth. http://www.thefledglingstale.com/
Steve Bloor: A faithful bishop’s eye-opening experience. http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/resignation-letter-as-bishop/