Dear Believer, Please Fight the Urge to Shun and Manipulate Your Loved Ones!

An icicle of the Fridge recently posted the following in a private group:

Woke up this morning, just after 9am. 
Noticed the door was closed. It’s never closed. 

Get up and start to walk down stairs, it’s super quiet. Surely the kids have planned something for me for Father’s Day. 

Get down stairs and no one. Look throughout the house, no one. No breakfasts, no cards, no notes, no kids.

They’re at church. Happy Father’s Day.
I’m not sure I should be hurt, but I am.
Church has taken my kids away from me over Father’s Day.

I am sharing this experince anonymously with permission because there is a huge misunderstanding amongst believers about the best way to deal with a situation where one parent doesn’t believe and one does. He followed up with this:

Apparently my parents went to church with [wife] too.

I sent [wife] a text and my dad replied with this: 


“You going to come to sacrament meeting after the sacrament
1 to hear your kids sing to you?  
We are in primary with [your son] right now and they are practicing their song to their dads.  
The song leader just asked if they were excited to sing to their dads and [your son] excitedly raised his arm. 
If you don’t come I’m sure that’s fine. Just thought you should know.”

Having been in leadership positions and having gone to ward councils I have participated in those meetings where you are really concerned about the spiritual well-being of an inactive or apostate. One who, from your perspective, has lost the light of the gospel. That is how I completely understand that this type of behavior has good intentions. You don’t mean it to be as hurtful as it is.

shun meme
You are repeatedly taught that if you do what the church says first and foremost all the rest of your family will be fine and things will fall into place. You should know that this scenario has played out in more than one place and in more than one religion where one spouse has experienced a change in what they believe about their past faith. My particular experience was with the Mormon faith and I know exactly how the above situation makes a freshly-minted apostate feel. It makes you feel terrible. It drives a wedge into your family relationship that can take a long, long time to overcome. I’d like you, dear believing spouse, to try and put yourself in our shoes for a moment. Imagine if you, on Mothers Day, had been ignored because you were Mormon and the rest of the family decided to go to a different church, or to a matinee and then sent you texts about how much they wished you were there with them while you sat alone in sacrament meeting…

Would you feel manipulated? Would you feel shunned? Or would you feel inspired to leave the church and go be with your family? Think about that. Please really think about that, because I believe you can have a little empathy in this situation and realize it will not inspire this person to come to church to feel the spirit and come back any more than it would inspire you to convert to Islam.

I know that you have been taught otherwise. I know that because as an Elders quorum president I believed all that a lost soul needed was to ‘feel the spirit’ just one good time and they would come back. Having been on the other side of that fence now, such an outcome is not often the case. To put it bluntly, being treated like this will actually cause us “poor lost souls” to see the religion as something you love more than us. From your perspective you will think our hearts are even more hardened because to us this feels like manipulation. And no one likes to be manipulated. Would you like it? Would it make you angry and hard-hearted towards the institution you felt was causing the manipulation?

Please, please remember what your leaders have said about shunning:

Don’t do it. Don’t shun us and try to get us to some other place to feel your love by denying it where it should still exist, right in our own homes.

Please apply the golden rule and treat us as you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. If you truly put yourself in our shoes by imagining yourself alone in the same situation, I really think you will begin to understand how this makes a person feel. This is a situation that can be difficult or it can bring us together. I firmly believe a little empathy can go a long way to it bringing us together instead of pushing us apart as we deal with our differences.

  1. I just noticed the invite clearly made sure this horrible apostate didn’t come to partake of the ritual of sacrament, got to keep the unworthy away from the good stuff I suppose… :/ I have felt the sting of being specifically uninvited and it hurts, it hurts bad. I hope in all that is chill you can just for a moment realize how much.

2 Comments

  1. Sad but it happens all too often.People in Relgion don’t realize how narrow minded and unthoughtful and hurtful they can be.However to be fair it’s a common human problem that transcends all religions,races etc.Lets us hope that we can be better and more compassionate,empathetic than what is our collective common nature

  2. For the record this particular type of snubbing didn’t happen to me. I experienced something much worse a couple years ago that someday I might talk about though so I know how it feels and that’s why I asked permission to share his story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *