Why Some Ex-Mormons ‘Can’t Leave The Church Alone’ When They Leave The Church.

Most active Mormon friends and family tell me they are annoyed & some even say they are offended because, though I have left the Church, I don’t seem to be able to leave the Church alone. They say things like, “Now that you’ve left the Church why can’t you just live your life and leave us in peace to believe what we want without asking questions or making comments on Facebook etc.”

They don’t attempt to engage with me or discuss any questions or concerns I have. Just tell me to “shut up” or “go away!”

I understand this attitude because I was at one time one of them.

I can now see things from the other side.

In this post I have tried to consider the reasons for many ex-Mormons to continue to take an interest in their previous faith. These are insights I gained whilst discussing these issues with my ex-Mormon friends including Mary Vogwell & Judith Elizabeth: –

When someone has grown up in the Church & spent decades living the precepts & standards of the Church it isn’t easy to just walk away & forget it.

When all the major decisions in one’s life have been made around the Church’s teachings, when who you are as a person is intimately connected with the Church, it is very difficult to tear oneself away & ignore one’s past.

I have found it very difficult to ‘just stop thinking about it’, as if by flicking a switch I can suddenly become a non-Mormon with no references to Mormonism in my life.

No-one can understand the emotional existential crisis that this crisis of faith causes unless they have experienced it themselves.

It’s almost impossible to stop caring about the faith of one’s whole life upto that point in time.

It would be like asking someone to forget their past & stop thinking about their own personal memories of childhood & growing up. To ask someone to completely distance themselves from the experiences which made them who they are and just focus on who they are now!

Often those who cared the most about the Church when they were members, find it the most difficult to leave & have attachments to the people they love & care about, as well as attachments to the Church they used to love more than life itself & more than they loved their own families. It was the Church which gave life & families context, & gave them their purpose for life.

Having sacrificed a huge amount financially, and given the majority of their spare time in hours of faithful service, leaving the Church leaves a massive hole in their lives.

Leaving the church has been likened to leaving a spouse, there are similar covenants of loyalty in both sets of circumstances. Most divorcees who leave a spouse go on analysing the relationship for months or even years, trying to work out what went wrong & what went right. They need to work out how they relate to the world as a single person once more. The longer & more devoted a person has been to their spouse, the more difficult the transition. Some even go on maintaining platonic feelings for the former spouse.

It doesn’t help the transition for the ex-members when the active members are told by the Church that “the most frequent causes of apostasy are failure to maintain strict standards of morality, taking personal offense (real or perceived), marrying someone who is of another faith or who is irreligious, neglecting to pray and maintain spirituality, or misunderstanding of the teachings of the Church.”

They are told, “People leave because they expect Joseph Smith to be infallible, so when they discover he was just human they are shocked.” But in reality members’ expectations of Joseph Smith the man are raised to such a high level by the Church itself, with the end result that most members believe he was almost perfect! This is how he is portrayed by the Church in books, on Church films & in Conference talks.

So, when members find out Joseph MARRIED 11 women who were already married to other men, some of whom had husbands who were away on missions, it is a VERY BIG SHOCK!

That is ADULTERY!

When they learn that Joseph Smith married girls as young as 14 years old, it is another OFFENSIVE SHOCK!

That is CHILD SEX ABUSE!

When they discover Joseph Smith dishonestly deceived his first wife Emma about these illegal relationships, again they are SHOCKED!

That is called LYING!

If the Church taught the members the truth in the first place then they wouldn’t feel LIED to & DECEIVED!

The Church teaches its members that apostates feel guilty & therefore seek to justify their actions by attacking the Church & becoming enemies to the faith. That the fruits of apostasy are bitterness & anger. When actually it’s only the natural reaction of normal, good, honest, committed people to feeling conned & deceived by an organisation they loved with all their heart, mind, might & strength.

The people who “don’t leave it alone”, were probably the most dedicated & caring members who took their religion & Church service seriously, so are now feeling the most deceived & hurt by the lies.

The painful emotional turmoil caused by this experience is compounded by feeling isolated from & shunned by the friends and family they love the most. They want to share this burden with others, to discuss the shock & profound disappointment, but those closest feel they cannot listen because it offends them to even consider it may be true.

So the grieving members are left to suffer in isolation.

In every other traumatic experience of life their friends and family are there for them, but in this crisis of faith, which causes so much intense emotional pain, they are left to deal with it alone. Often feeling blamed for being offended in the first place. The victim is blamed for feeling victimised.

But what is worse is that their LDS family and friends are not completely responsible for their shunning actions because they have been taught to avoid contact with the apostates, & because it is too painful for them to contemplate that their loved ones could be hurt by the Church they love. So the active LDS are also victims of this situation too.

An ex-Mormon friend shared her feelings about this situation with me recently:

“Why can’t I leave the church alone? I gave 38 years of my life to it, I placed my eternal furture in it, all my goals in life were set around it, how I lived every day was set by its standards. Then I found out its roots were rotten at the core, and its all fake after that. The pain this caused me, the panic attacks, the tears, the loss of community, the loss of friends, the feeling of not knowing how to cope, where to even start or how to even start each day. The trust I’ve lost, the feeling of “what is there now?” Then to try and talk to members about any of this, any words coming out of an “aspotates” mouth are automatically lost on a member, they won’t hear you because of the simple fact “that you dared to leave”. I’ve told some LDS friends. I love them enough to share my “truths” with them, just like they feel they must share the “gospel”. And, when they find out the truths I’ll be there when it all falls apart for them. They’re going to need a friend who cares and who understands. I would really, really hate for any of my friends to go through what I’ve been through. But I believe in the coming days my friendship will be needed as truths are revealed, and acceptance of those truths find their way into peoples lives. I also don’t want to be told, “why didn’t you tell me”.” ~ Judith Elizabeth, Texas.

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14 Responses to Why Some Ex-Mormons ‘Can’t Leave The Church Alone’ When They Leave The Church.

  1. glenreemore says:

    This excellent, Steve. You deal well here with a common issue where many of us cope with feelings of loss despite having made the correct decision to move away from the Church.

    Thank you.

  2. shannon says:

    I agree w/glenreemore. I was thinking as I read this entry that he is speaking for me. I have my adult children around me, and they are watching my transition out of Mormonism. I express my love for them and the faith I have in God outside the Mormon church. It is so sad that when people lose the church, many times they lose God as well. I pray for us all. I am so looking forward to Mormondom being disassembled in the months and years ahead.

  3. Randy says:

    Ditto on the above. It is ironic that Mormons are taught to talk about the Gospel with others. But when we “others” talk about our truths Mormons shut you out and nullify you. Also I have observed mormon responses usually attack the messenger – rarely do they respond to the stated issues with fact and reason.

  4. Pingback: Why Some Ex-Mormons 'Can't Leave The Church Alone' When They … | Church

  5. I love your blog. Leaving is tough.

  6. strude says:

    For me, it is the knowledge that I was lied to and deceived that fuels my willingness to fight against the church and not simply walk away. I made so many important decisions in my life based on what the church taught me. Many decisions I now consider to be mistakes… major mistakes that exist in my life because of the lies of the Mormon church. I only want others to avoid those same mistakes if at all possible. I think most people when they find they have been conned want to expose the conman and warn others.

  7. Clint E. says:

    For me, there are several reasons for being “unable” to leave it behind. The church was a huge part of my life for 30 years., I gave a lot of money, trusted and had that trust torn apart. I gave my time, my energy, as I was asked to do. I put my faith, my hopes, my dreams into what I was taught. I felt guilt and shame at my doubts and my questions. I tried, in the later years to put away doubts and questions at what are now obvious questions.

    The biggest reason, though, is that the church will most likely continue to affect me for the rest of my life, unless I am willing to walk away from my closest and most treasured personal relationships. When my daughter and sons, who are still in the church are ready to marry, they will be pressured to marry in the temple. I, as their father, will be unable to attend. If they struggle with this decision, instead of automatically choosing the route the Mormon church tells them to take, this will be a burden on someone I love. If my children ever decide to leave the church, it will affect me through their struggles with the consequences of this decision.

    I have many close friends and relatives who are very respectful of my decision to leave the Mormon church, but they occasionally still feel the need (and I understand what they are going through with this) to testify to me of their belief and sometimes enlighten me with their knowledge of my belief, somewhere inside.

    I will be happy to leave the church behind, as soon as the church no longer has an effect on my life, especially well into the future.

  8. Scott Johnson says:

    To Steve and all those who replied to his comments about ‘why I can’t leave it alone’!!(I know it was april and may, but I just read it, so forgive me.
    As I read your thoughts, my heart went out to you; all of you. Here is why. Joseph Smith said something like: ‘ you can leave us but you can never leave us alone’. He knew what would happen when you have truth fill your life, and then you choose to leave that truth behind because there seems to be a conflict you don’t know how to resolve. Josephs own comments about “i don’t blame people for not believing me, if I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t believe it myself’ was to remind us that it wasn’t going to be easy and that there was only 1 way to resolve the issues. That way was then, is now, and will always be the Book of Mormon. Look you guys, when the God of heaven reaches down, taps you on the shoulder and says ‘Steve, you are my son, the gospel has been restored, Jesus is the Christ and your savior, the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph is the prophet of the restoration and you are loved beyond anything stupid you can ever do” When, that happens, then it really doesn’t matter what reasons you want to give for leaving, because that reason becomes silliness in light of what God just told you. There is only 1 way to have that experience and it is to get an actual witness that the Book of Mormon is true. When that happens, no piece of silly anti-mormon literature, no stupid zit on a prophets face, no goofy piece of church history will have any impact on you, because God himself told you. UNTIL that happens, all you have is a church, a bunch of programs, some good people, teachings, lessons, activities, etc. In other words, until there is an actual witness from God to you, you’ve got nothing. That is why my heart goes out to all of you. I have spent my entire life studying every piece of anti-mormon literature that exists. I have met with and interviewed those who leave because of some trivial idea that was thrown around over 150 years ago, but to them it is all brand new because they weren’t taught the ‘truth’ from the beginning. There is no issue that has ever come up or that ever will come up again the church that destroys a witness from God almighty. What you are all saying to me and every reader of your blog is that you NEVER had a witness. You DON”T know what the holy Ghost feels like, You NEVER got on your knees and developed a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. You NEVER found out that the Book of Mormon was Gods truth.
    The entire faith of the Mormon people is based on revelation! If you don’t believe that God can still speak (modern revelation) you will always be trying to find answers somewhere else (other than Him). He is the source of truth and he has given the world 1 simple way to find out about him. That way is scripture, and specifically, if someone wants to know about God today, that scripture must include the Book of Mormon.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Thanks Scott,

      Though I feel your genuine concern for us, it is not us who need your concern.

      The main reason we campaign for truth is because we have heartfelt compassion for all of our family & friends who are caught in Joseph Smith’s deceit.

      We once had fervent testimonies just like you profess to have, and we served with all our hearts, might, minds & strength in the Church.

      But what we once regarded as firm & unshakable knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel we now know was a delusion.

      It is a perfect example of confirmational bias. We saw what we believed. Our faith was but a denial of truth.

      Sadly, your pronouncements of faith are just exactly the same as all religious adherents around the world who believe their particular belief system is divine in origin.

      I would strongly advise you to study the psychology of belief before you waste more of your time, money & effort in worshipping a false God.

      Belief in a fantasy is a damnable false hope.

      With best regards,
      Steve

  9. glenreemore says:

    Like Steve I understand your mindset, Scott. Just like you I was of a similar thinking at one time.

    There came a moment, however, when further knowledge, honesty and integrity would not allow me to persist in an organisation which was so clearly not of God. I opened my mind and heart when the missionaries taught me the discussions, but didn’t consider closing them to further knowledge when many would have wished me to do so. Like Steve I persevered for many, many years and served in countless leadership positions, but could not in all honesty stare God in the face and say that the ‘good feeling’ I felt when listening to the missionaries was from God.

    Having a closed mind is an insult to the Divine. My mind is now fully open and I’m enjoying the fresh air.

  10. Well done. I’m so happy I stumbled on this piece and your blog! ~Jenni

  11. thenightmind says:

    Thank you. I’m currently working on a blog post discussing this very topic. Great post!

  12. camille says:

    Thanks for this blog. I’m actually going through a really hard time wanting to leave & searching for truth. I’m 26yrs old, born & bred in the church. I’m going to counselling to help, but I feel so isolated & judged as most of the people I have associated with are members. Also I’ve always had callings to keep me busy etc. Where can I read truth? Many things online say different things.. like Joseph smith having 27wives?
    I want to be loved for who I am. And I’m tired of being judged by people around me & having them be nasty to me because I choose differently

  13. Dave says:

    As a 32 degreed mason, by definition there can be only one truth. Either all religions are correct, none are correct or only one is correct. Religion is man made and the real master of the Universe doesn’t play hide and seek and surely doesn’t send angels with flaming swords threatening death unless we commit adultery. Think for yourself and see religion for it’s true nature: control. If Joseph Smith could come to us now in modern day and time, how long do you think it would take for him to hit on some woman in need of a good “sealing”? He was a fraud and he KNEW he was a fraud. It is our place as good and decent humans to tell and seek the truth. This is why we can never “leave the church alone”; we must seek the truth.

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