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"Why some people leave the Church"

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5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

H. M. Bahr, and S. L. Albrecht, “Strangers once more: Patterns of disaffiliation from Mormonism.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 28 (1989):180-200, online at  http://www.jstor.org/stable/1387058?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents .

"Most disaffiliates from Mormonism were always marginal members, and the metaphor of drift applies to their experiences."

"Processes of disaffiliation from Mormonism are explored in this analysis of in-depth interviews with 30 former Mormons identified in statewide mail surveys of Utah."

A sample size of 30 and only from Utah.

5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

"This book focuses primarily on writers who lose faith in Christianity."

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I can agree with this.

Which leads to the follow up questions - what do people expect from a religion and what do they expect from God?

What does "works for them" mean?

I suppose it's like anything else - does it deliver what you're expecting, does it match your values, etc. Barring some barrier to exit, people tend to go where they find their needs are being best met. I think that's ultimately why younger generations are less likely to be church going in general - churches aren't offering anything they either want or can't get elsewhere more easily. Churches used to be the hubs of community life, but that's less and less the case. I think people find community more in their interests and hobbies, and spirituality can really be satisfied in all sorts of ways outside of a formal church.

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1 hour ago, Gray said:

In my experience most of the people who leave just leave and we never find out what happened.

I think the way you frame the marriage issue is key to why so many people are unhappy about that issue and the way it's often framed in church. So disrespectful.

And I think that most of the people who do share the reason for leaving try to simplify their reasons in an attempt to make it easier to explain and easier for people to try to understand. Few people really want to write the tomes that would be required to fully express ALL of the reasons. So they may point to a one or two of the big issues that impacted their faith, but the idea that people leave the church over just one issue is really missing the point. In my personal experience, and from many I've spoken with, it is the presence of so many holes in the good ship zion that they simply can't keep plugging them with their fingers, and toes etc. It's the massive accumulation of issues that cause most to choose to leave the good ship zion.

Edited by HappyJackWagon
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1 hour ago, Gray said:

I suppose it's like anything else - does it deliver what you're expecting, does it match your values, etc. Barring some barrier to exit, people tend to go where they find their needs are being best met. I think that's ultimately why younger generations are less likely to be church going in general - churches aren't offering anything they either want or can't get elsewhere more easily. Churches used to be the hubs of community life, but that's less and less the case. I think people find community more in their interests and hobbies, and spirituality can really be satisfied in all sorts of ways outside of a formal church.

1

This is the very antithesis of Jesus' message and gospel. He and the apostles taught that we must die to ourselves, take on his name, and become a new person. Those individuals who think they know what are values of eternal import, who know what is right and wrong, who know what is best outside of God are fooling themselves. Their experiences outside of God are their only teacher. 

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38 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

And I think that most of the people who do share the reason for leaving try to simplify their reasons in an attempt to make it easier to explain and easier for people to try to understand. Few people really want to write the tomes that would be required to fully express ALL of the reasons. So they may point to a one or two of the big issues that impacted their faith, but the idea that people leave the church over just one issue is really missing the point. In my personal experience, and from many I've spoken with, it is the presence of so many holes in the good ship zion that they simply can't keep plugging them with their fingers, and toes etc. It's the massive accumulation of issues that cause most to choose to leave the good ship zion.

Holes that only they recognize and that overcome their degree of research. Those who I have talked to, as a general rule that does not cover everyone, have a very limited understanding of the gospel. They reject the culture without understanding the gospel of Christ. 

I do agree that individuals simply their response - just not interested in getting into it with everyone that asks. As far writing "tomes", use hyperbole much?

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5 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

This is the very antithesis of Jesus' message and gospel. He and the apostles taught that we must die to ourselves, take on his name, and become a new person. Those individuals who think they know what are values of eternal import, who know what is right and wrong, who know what is best outside of God are fooling themselves. Their experiences outside of God are their only teacher. 

I'm confused.

Individuals who claim to know and import God's values are fooling themselves? Are you speaking about the church here? I'm guessing not.

Everyone has values and expectations. I would be impossible not to. Some of them are learned culturally/socially and others may be learned by the spirit. If someone has been led to his values and expectations by the spirit, yet the church does not meet those values or expectations, should the individual follow the church, or the spirit?

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9 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

This is the very antithesis of Jesus' message and gospel. He and the apostles taught that we must die to ourselves, take on his name, and become a new person. Those individuals who think they know what are values of eternal import, who know what is right and wrong, who know what is best outside of God are fooling themselves. Their experiences outside of God are their only teacher. 

Are you including yourself in this statement?  

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4 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

Holes that only they recognize and that overcome their degree of research. Those who I have talked to, as a general rule that does not cover everyone, have a very limited understanding of the gospel. They reject the culture without understanding the gospel of Christ. 

I do agree that individuals simply their response - just not interested in getting into it with everyone that asks. As far writing "tomes", use hyperbole much?

Are you offended by my use of "tomes"? :)   Actually, I don't think it is hyperbole. Faith struggles, faith crisis, faith reconstruction, faith journey, faith transition (whatever you want to call it- or maybe some combination of all of these things) is extremely complex. To fully dive in to the deconstruction of ones faith and then reconstruct it based on the fruits of the gospel that are witnessed, matching that with values, expectations and life experiences, would take considerable time and I think could easily fill tomes.  I'm not opposed to hyperbole, but I really don't think "tomes" is hyperbole. I find it quite descriptive.

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10 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

(1) I don't think you meant 'celibacy between a married couple'.

(2) In case you meant 'monogamy', you may want to check your data.

Oh dear, thanks for catching that, my brain!!

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12 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I really appreciate your comment here Maidservant!

**hugs**

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11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The reasons are seldom doctrinal, and most of those leaving were always marginal members anyhow.  That is what scientific study discloses.  Only a small minority leave after closely examining the LDS faith.

This is just anecdotal, but virtually every one of the dozens I personally know who have stopped attending LDS Church services in the last decade or has said they only attend for family/employment/etc were scholars of Mormonism who published, presented, taught, and deeply studied the LDS faith. However, none of them that I am aware of "left" because of historical issues. Almost all of them were fully aware of all of the issues long before their disaffection and would probably still be active if they hadn't felt they reached an impasse with the institutional Church on social issues--particularly the Church's treatment of LGBTQ persons, the role of women, and the general feeling that the Church becoming antithetical to their understanding of Jesus.

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16 hours ago, Duncan said:

http://www.truthwillprevail.xyz/2019/01/why-some-people-leave-church.html

I don't know if, and this man hasn't supplied any evidence that people do, but what do you think of his reasons why people leave the Church? I personally think people leave for other reasons but may stay away for some of these reasons. What gets me though is this comment from him.

"Now, lest anyone become indignant and accuse me of judging another, I would simply say, yes, I am standing as a watchman on the tower to point out loudly and publicly proclaimed error and murmuring and criticism. I have no power or authority of myself to condemn her or anyone else, in this life or the next, but I do have the capability to show others where the rattlesnakes lie in the tall grass."

To me that's arrogance, I hope this guy doesn't teeter off the edge like others have

I'm guessing this is the same Dennis Horne that was involved in the recent dust up over at the Interpreter over the Maxwell Institute and the boundary maintenance police.  If so, I think it might provide some additional context around why he is writing this blog post.  I recall reading at least some of the comments he made on the Interpreter and he was very pointed in criticism of the MI and certain people in the Mormon apologists crowd that he doesn't believe are good soldiers in the apologetic fight.  Feel free to check out his comments and judge for yourself.  

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-interpreter-foundation-and-an-apostolic-charge/

His comments and his tone on the blog come across very poorly in my opinion.  He certainly might see himself as a Javert type character, fighting for truth, but in my opinion he definitely doesn't represent a Christlike loving approach.  Ultimately, I think you can boil down all his reasoning to one question, an appeal to authority, and he only interprets his version of loyalty to the church as the correct one, so therefore everyone else is the enemy.  An immature and harsh approach.  

One other note, I just recently finished listening to the Unobscured podcast hosted by Aaron Mahnke.  It was a really well done and interesting trip through the Salem witch trials and the history around that whole event.  One observation from that time period is that the people were going through a lot of challenges socially and economically and how those contributing factors influenced their views about evil spirits influencing people.  This fanaticism I can see reflected in the writings of Dennis Horne in his blog.  Perhaps he's suffering through some really difficult personal challenges that is causing him to see Satan's influence so prevalent all around him.  I think its important to try and be charitable towards even the most strident fanatics, even while at the same time we are cautious about how their influence can impact others around them.  

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On 1/28/2019 at 11:15 PM, Thinking said:

 

 

On 1/28/2019 at 11:15 PM, Thinking said:
Quote

I wonder if someday Latter-day Saints will be denied jobs or a seat in a restaurant or be ordered to the back of the bus because of such religious bigotry.

Shouldn't have gone there.

The bias and bigotry are very real in certain areas.

I have two highly placed children working in prominent Seattle companies. At work and in some social situations they cannot be candid about their religious, social, or political views and must maintain silence. The same has been true of Sister Gui in her kindergarten positition and of me during the last ten years or so of my career in the Washington public schools. We spend many faculty meetings with our mouths closed when certain politically correct issues are addressed.

As late as last Monday, there was a required school district training that forbade the use of the words Latino and Latina in referring to Hispanic children and parents. The only word permitted now is “LatinX,” pronounced “Latin-X.” The kindergarten teachers cannot sort students by boys and girls. Parents cannot be advised if a student in the classroom has lice nor can the child be quarantined.

When I was in the schools, dress standards were enforced and PDA was not allowed. When I go back now as a consultant, both restrictions have gone by the wayside. To check our white male privilege, we were required to read a book in which, among other things, the author ended up shedding his toxic masculinity and finding his approved male identity with fellows in a group therapy session at Stonehenge. We were required to create our own plan. 

The list of such things is long. You speak up at the peril of ostracism and censure.

[edited]

Edited by Bernard Gui
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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I strongly disagree. Do some "marginal" members leave. Yeah. Obviously. That's probably why there's a 50-60% inactivity level. Many were baptized before understanding or committing, many dropped out very young before they could really study and research much etc. But many, especially within the past decade when information has become so accessible, are leaving precisely because they are examining the faith more closely. Upon closer study they find problems with history, doctrine, prophetic fallibility, doctrinal change etc. So many of these people have been faithful members. Full tithe payers. Temple goers, Active participants. Seminary teachers, Bishops, Ward Council members, RS Presidents etc. I don't know how anyone could claim that these people were "marginal". Regardless, I'd recommend getting away from the language of "marginal" altogether. I don't think you mean it this way, but it comes across as very dismissive and condescending.

I haven't read through the studies you posted links for, but I did notice they are 20-30 years old. I think a LOT has changed in the last 20-30 years. I don't know that a study from that long ago, pre-internet, is going to be very applicable to today. When it comes down to it, at the most basic level, people become inactive or leave the church entirely because they don't (or no longer) believe that the church is what it claims to be. They don't believe it's the "one and only" true church, or they don't believe the prophet truly speaks for God, or they don't believe that church policies fairly represent God's desire for His children. They don't believe...so they don't attend. They vote with their feet, and sometimes a resignation letter.

Now, you may be right that a "small minority" of the entire 60% of inactive members closely study the LDS faith, but I think if you were to look more closely at the reasons why "faithful", active, engaged saints leave, will look vastly different from the masses who never really were fully engaged. So you have two different groups that are inactive/leaving. The church has become accustomed to the high inactivity rates and they know that many never become engaged, BUT what has changed is the larger numbers of highly engaged members who are walking away because they no longer believe in the church.

👍

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41 minutes ago, the narrator said:

This is just anecdotal, but virtually every one of the dozens I personally know who have stopped attending LDS Church services in the last decade or has said they only attend for family/employment/etc were scholars of Mormonism who published, presented, taught, and deeply studied the LDS faith. However, none of them that I am aware of "left" because of historical issues. Almost all of them were fully aware of all of the issues long before their disaffection and would probably still be active if they hadn't felt they reached an impasse with the institutional Church on social issues--particularly the Church's treatment of LGBTQ persons, the role of women, and the general feeling that the Church becoming antithetical to their understanding of Jesus.

That has been my experience as well, Loyd, but probably because we so frequently rub shoulders with fellow members of the Mormon intellectual elite at symposia, on campus, in the blogosphere, and in special bookstores.  The ordinary Mormon, including the ordinary marginal Mormon is not to be found in any of those venues.

However, it does bear mention that, unlike the response within other religions, as Mormons become better educated they also become more faithful (https://www.reddit.com/r/latterdaysaints/comments/4bnont/as_mormons_become_more_educated_they_become_more/ ).  This was also the conclusion of a Pew survey in 2012:

Quote

 

One such finding is the relationship between religious commitment and education among Mormons.

David Campbell, a University of Notre Dame associate professor and another adviser on the survey, noted that the more educated respondents were, the higher their levels of religious commitment.

"I was a little surprised by that," said Campbell, who is LDS and who has extensively studied on the role of religion in the public square. "The more educated a Mormon is, the more likely they are to be wholehearted in their commitment to the church and its teachings."

That is different from other churches, he said, where more education tends to lead to more religious skepticism.  Joseph Walker, “LDS religious commitment high, Pew survey finds,” Deseret News, Jan 13, 2012, online at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700215244/LDS-religious-commitment-high-Pew-survey-finds.html?pg=all .

 

This also jibes with what Emma Green has found:  That "kids of certain faiths, such as young Mormons, evangelicals, and Jews, are more likely to stay in the fold than are those of other denominations " (“Keeping the Faith: How childhood influences churchgoing,” Atlantic, Nov 2014, online at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/keeping-the-faith/380799/ .

As Lewis R. Rambo points out:

Quote

At least the studies that I’ve seen of sociologists in the United States and Europe show that most people remain in the religion into which they were born. The exceptions are people who were born to parents who had a mixed religion. Often, they will change. So, we can begin with the premise that most people stay in the family religion. Those that do change were in situations with a bit of conflict, and were perplexed about the issue.   Rambo, “The Psychology of Religious Conversion,” delivered at the International Coalition for Religious Freedom Conference on "Religious Freedom and the New Millennium" Berlin, Germany, May 29-31, 1998, online at http://www.religiousfreedom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=356&Itemid=18 .  See also his Understanding Religious Conversion (1995).

 

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23 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

The bias and bigotry are very real in certain areas.

I have two highly placed children working in prominent Seattle companies. At work and in some social situations they cannot be candid about their religioussocial, or political views and must maintain silence. The same has been true of Sister Gui in her kindergarten positition and of me during the last ten years or so of my career in the Washington public schools. We spend many faculty meetings with our mouths closed when certain and politically correct issues are addressed.

As late as last Monday, there was a required school district training that forbade the use of the words Latino and Latina in referring to Hispanic children and parents. The only word permitted now is “LatinX,” pronounced “Latin-X.” The kindergarten teachers cannot sort students by boys and girls. Parents cannot be advised if a student in the classroom has lice nor can the child be quarantined.

When I was in the schools, dress standards were enforced and PDA was not allowed. When I go back now as a consultant, both restrictions have gone by the wayside. To check our white male privilege, we were required to read a book in which, among other things, the author ended up his shedding his toxic masculinity and finding his approved male identity with fellows in a group therapy session at Stonehenge. We were required to create our own plan. 

The list of such things is long. You speak up at the peril of ostracism and censure............

The coming "Night of the Long Knives" cannot be far behind.

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1 hour ago, the narrator said:

This is just anecdotal, but virtually every one of the dozens I personally know who have stopped attending LDS Church services in the last decade or has said they only attend for family/employment/etc were scholars of Mormonism who published, presented, taught, and deeply studied the LDS faith. However, none of them that I am aware of "left" because of historical issues. Almost all of them were fully aware of all of the issues long before their disaffection and would probably still be active if they hadn't felt they reached an impasse with the institutional Church on social issues--particularly the Church's treatment of LGBTQ persons, the role of women, and the general feeling that the Church becoming antithetical to their understanding of Jesus.

I think there's merit here.  In the less scholarly world of those who haven't published, presented, taught or deeply studied this is also true--they are leaving for the social issues moreso than others.  I'd guess there is still the "I didn't know this crap when I was a member for all these decades then suddenly I started to learn things the church never told me" but that's going away more and more in favor of those who are more concerned with the social.  

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2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I understand your strong belief in these anecdotal assertions, and I welcome any statistical evidence in support of this recent supposed change in patterns of disaffiliation from Mormonism.  I have long predicted that secularism will do to North America (USA and Canada) what it has done to Europe.  Mormons may be more resistant than most (as previous data have consistently shown), but they too will be subject to the temper of the times.  To what degree, I cannot say, but I would like to see some good sociological surveys/polls.

I do not see people leaving the LDS faith as a problem, but rather an artifact of free agency -- which should be welcomed.  I don't think that we should become upset over disaffiliation the way the Jewish community does when their people assimilate and disappear from the community.  That is merely part of a necessary winnowing process.  People should be respected when they make well considered choices of whatever kind -- provided they are in keeping with normal civility and the rule of law.  Political correctness should, however, be considered out of place in a truly dynamic, open society.

Can you please go have a chat with my wife's family?  😀

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3 hours ago, ALarson said:

This may have had some truth to it years and years ago, but it is definitely not true about members who are leaving today.  The great majority that I've known who left were life time members and were extremely active with strong testimonies prior to learning more details regarding some of the more difficult areas of church history (mainly polygamy but others too).  Most struggle for years to stay active and some are successful at remaining with a different view of the church.

Today the church is losing some of its best and brightest....many who were stake and ward leaders.  They are loosing entire families who were very active and strong members.  That's why the leaders are paying attention, making changes, and being more open about church history and other past doctrines (ie. publishing the essays).  It's also why so many leaders are speaking out about it and traveling to areas to hold meetings specific to combating this problem.  

As I just said to HappyJack, I'd be happy to see some real data on this.  If there has been a shift, it should be reflected in the polling data.  I have not personally seen this in my ward and stake, but I do find this being repeatedly claimed on this board.   However, even if true, I do not see it as the debacle you describe, but merely part of a necessary winnowing process.  Also, if what you say is true of the LDS Church generally, one would have to ask, What sort of efforts should be brought to bear to combat the loss of members?  And, if the leaders are indeed responding as you say, are their efforts effective in stemming the losses?

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8 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Can you please go have a chat with my wife's family?  😀

I could tell them that they should love our very pluralistic society in which there is something for everyone, and loving tolerance.  At least in theory.

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