Why Mormons Leave the Church

Why Mormons leave the Church

This week is shaping up to be an eye-opening experience for Mormons and ex-Mormons alike.

In the Salt Lake Tribune Peggy Fletcher Stack reported that people are leaving the Church when they get on the internet.  I say thank you Lord for the internet!

Interestingly, people are finding out that Smith was marrying jail bait (one as young as 14 yrs old) and while the Church hasn’t exactly been forthcoming in telling the truth about their past, faithful members are finding the truth by themselves via the plethora of websites who have been generous with their time and investigations.

Ms. Stack reported Merlin Jensen, the outgoing church historian as saying that providing the whole truth to members at large about something like polygamy isn’t exactly germane to what’s going on with the Church today.  Question: when would it be? Since when has telling the truth been irrelevant?

The Church is always reminding its members that a testimony of Joseph Smith is vital when sharing their testimonies.  According to Mormon Doctrine there are three vital elements to having a testimony (MD, pg. 786).

“Three great truths must be included in every valid testimony: 1. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world (D. & C. 46:13); 2. That Joseph Smith is the Prophet of God through whom the gospel was restored in this dispensation; and 3. That The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D. & C. 1:30.)”

Wouldn’t it be wise to know all you can about Joseph Smith, Jesus and the Church if these are the three greatest things in a testimony?  For your testimony to be credible the information you share should be plausible as well and the only way for that to happen is to learn as much as you can about those things.  What’s wrong about studying the life of Joseph Smith or Jesus?

Back to Mr. Jensen’s remark about church history not being relevant to the church today.  This reminds me of when I was a tour guide in Germany for the USO in the mid ‘80’s.

Not long after the end of WWII Germany wrote up and enacted a new set of laws some of which were meant to control what you could and couldn’t say in public. Tour guides fell into the group of people who the government had a tight control on for releasing information.

I quickly learned that using the words Hitler, Nazi, SS, and Swastika were not allowed.  In fact school history books had little to no mention of Hitler or the “Final Solution”. Rather history books for young teens carried a one page acknowledgement that a war did take place and also provided a few pictures of bombed out churches throughout Germany, but that was it.

No pictures or mention of Hitler, no mention of the concentration camps even though they’d already been set up as memorials for the atrocities that took place. No mention of the millions of Jews that had been murdered and the reason why, they said, was because the nation needed to move on and it didn’t benefit the children of Germany to talk about it forty years after the fact.

Fast forward twenty-five years to a different continent and culture, we find an LDS Church historian who is basically saying the same thing. The problem here is that people will leave if you don’t tell the truth and leave for what?

In our experience many people leave Mormonism when they find out the Church has lied to them and they won’t turn to God, won’t try out another church and won’t accept the idea that atheism or witchcraft isn’t any better than what they’ve left.

For those who turn to the Lord after Mormonism, there is the sweet satisfaction of peace and also the knowledge that God won’t steer you wrong.  We’ve found those that turn to the Lord can find it in their hearts to forgive the lies they were taught and in turn help others to find the truth as well.

Mr. Jensen said in an interview “The church is concerned about misinformation and distorted information, but we are doing better and trying harder to get our story told in an accurate way.”

Well, there’s no time like the present to start telling the truth. The one thing the Church has going for itself is how they’ve always given out information; sometimes to a fault.  The problem with this is while the info is available, many don’t know how to access it, so they go along with the tidbits of info they’ve been fed over the years from the Sunday school manuals.

The last four paragraphs of Ms. Stack’s article was the most telling. In an interview with Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, he told Ms. Stack in an e-mail that most people will walk away from the Church after fifty years when or if they find out Smith was translating the Book of Mormon by looking into a hat with a seer stone. If you tell a twelve year old kid the same story he’ll think it’s “cool”.

I have to agree with Mr. Bushman’s analysis.  If you’ve been feeding a lie to someone for fifty years they’re probably going to be more than a little ticked when they find out they’ve been lied to.  Sadly, Jensen said the Church needs to do a better job to explain its history. When asked how they could do this he said; “Can we weave some of this into our seminaries, institutes and adult curriculum? I think we can”, he said, “and efforts are under way to do that”.

“Weave the truth in”?

Wow, they’re worse off than I thought…

Robert Millet was quoted as saying;

“Mormons shouldn’t be consumed with provocative materials critical of the [LDS] Church, the day for ignoring such matters is long past. The internet is filled with thousands of pages of anti-Mormon polemic, and it is extremely difficult for people to receive an honest and fair appraisal of Mormonism with significant effort on their part”.

Yes indeed, there are many sites out there full of misinformation, however, sites like this one is not.  We get 100% of our information about Mormon teachings directly from the LDS Church.

People will leave the Church for any number of reasons, but I would imagine that lying to the members will always be at the top of the list.

If the Church would just give out the info of what happened in its past and let it alone people would either accept or reject it for what it is.  However, the Church has always had a chronic need to justify or tweak what Smith meant and then will attack those who gave out the info as if the messenger or the audiences are at fault.

Time will tell how their new agenda will pan itself out. We’re praying people will have the courage to leave and come to know the real Jesus!

Michelle Grim

 1 Cor. 1:18