Where will you go? The question posed to LDS faithful this last general conference that has caught fire as a meme among the not so faithful. Last time I saw this type of response in the post Mormon world was the doubt your doubts quip that put this obscure blog on the map which I’m sure played no small part in it getting a Brodie Award.
A couple of years ago I would have listened to conference with bated breath and pounded out a response the next day to such blatant misinformation in the particular talk that spouted this idea.
But that’s just not the case anymore, and I think that’s relevant. Because I did go away. I left the faith. Sure it was hard not to look back for a long time. But it is getting easier and easier every day. 1
Turns out that a life without even a belief in God suits me. I feel free to use my own mind. I don’t need to check my conclusions against ‘revealed truth’ to make sure it fits because there is no such thing. All there is are human’s proposing human concepts, some of them right and some wrong.
These days I don’t even listen to conference, I blog less on the things wrong with the faith and more on how we can become better people. I still keep touch with my fellow Post-Mormon peeps though. You can’t just hang up a 5th generation Mormon hat, especially when you are the only heathen in your family not wearing it.
So perusing a few reddit posts in that effort led to this thought from the Fridge. I think Elder Ballard is asking the wrong question to the wrong people. I honestly think his reasons for leaving the church are all he understands. Let me explain.
We know for a fact that these men live in an isolated mecca far from the average person. They are briefed on what is happening in the world by self proclaimed ‘yes men.’ Guys who call themselves ‘church broke’ 2 due to their subservient nature.
Ponderizing this while reading TBM FB comments about the Zelph on the Shelf post I had an epiphany. These leaders don’t talk to apostates that have never returned to the fold!
I think they have only heard from people that left and returned, which is a very small subset of those that leave. Bear with me on this. Because I have also known people that quit attending church and then returned. And guess what….
Those guys do leave for the reasons stated by church leaders!
- They feel offended by someone, run away, resolve it and come back.
- They sin and feel guilty about it for years, not worthy of being in church. But one day they make a choice to return to welcoming, open arms.
- They just aren’t good with the high levels of commitment the church requires and slack away at it until one day they stop being inactive and go back to the fold.
- The never really understood the faith nor gained a testimony to begin with, but now they have one and returned.
- They think they were deceived by lies but now feel they know the truth and have returned.
The common element? The people in these five categories all came back. If the only people you ever talk to about their experience in the church are people that go to church. You are missing out on a huge group of people that have left. (well over two-thirds of convert baptisms!)
If your filter to the what is happening to the religion you guide is coming only from church-broke-yes-men and repentant faithful you will miss a huge part of the story. If you want to know what is happening and why tithing income and attendance numbers are falling across the board you are asking the wrong people ‘where will you go?’
You should be asking people that haven’t returned ‘where they went?’ Because they have gone lots and lots of places, some to nature, some to peaceful Sundays at home. Some went to coffee shops and some to other less judgmental faiths. Even a few went to their Fridge, opened the door and saw the light.
And the light said. “What do all these people have in common that have NOT returned to the fold?” They didn’t leave for any of the reasons above. They dug deep into the origins and realized this simple fact. The church isn’t true. They don’t believe it because of the overwhelming evidence that says its not anymore likely to be the one and only truth than every other faith Mormons themselves say only got it part right.
That’s why it’s a losing battle for the LDS faith in the long run. Like Zeus of a few thousand years ago. Elohim is doomed to be a quirky alien myth cooked up by an 18th century conman to sell a book. Not tomorrow or likely even centuries from now though, more like Millenia. 3 Religions have inertia and are gonna be around plenty long since our human appetite for emotional and spiritual experience isn’t dissipating anytime soon.
- Of course the believer will tell you it’s my dulling spiritual senses that lead me to not care anymore. Funny how no matter what I do it proves them right isn’t it? If you can’t leave it alone, they are right because the prophets said so. If you don’t care a whit about it. They are right because prophets said you are ‘past feeling’. Religion NEVER allows a test that could prove it wrong. I think there might be a lesson in there somewhere:) ↩
- Broke has the same meaning as when a horse is broken to be docile, ridden and guided by its master. ↩
- See Jesus myth for comparison ↩
- Seriously every time I look this number ticks up. Less than a month ago it was under 30k, if this were a religion it would be kicking ass in growth numbers right now! It reminds me of this clip. ↩