Ex-Mormon

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Ex-Mormon refers to a former member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any one of the Latter Day Saint denominations, colloquially and collectively called "Mormonism." Ex-Mormon may also refer to various aggregations of ex-Mormons who comprise a social movement. Ex-Mormons should not be confused with Jack Mormons ("dry-Mormons"), who often have no philosophical disagreement with the LDS church but do not participate, or Cultural Mormons who consider non-belief irrelevant to their adoption of the Mormon lifestyle and identity. The distinction is important to ex-Mormons, many of whom see themselves as conscientious objectors to the religion's teachings or practices, and who see their decision to leave as morally compelling and socially risky. The latter applies as some ex-Mormons later find themselves shunned by Mormon friends and family after their exit.[1] Ex-mormons leave Mormonism at a cost,[2] often missing out on major family events such as temple weddings which are limited to active members of the LDS church meeting certain requirements of the religion.

Ex-Mormon is sometimes abbreviated as "exmo." Similarly, the term nevermo is sometimes colloquially used to refer to people who never were members of LDS church. The term is mainly used by exmos to describe a spouse, relative, or friend.

Contents

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[edit] Reasons for leaving

See also Controversies regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Criticism of Mormonism

Leaving is not something that ex-Mormons usually take lightly. In 1983, the Journal of Scientific Study of Religion reported that 43% of Mormon disaffiliates reported leaving due to unmet spiritual needs. Of former Mormons surveyed, 58% switched to other faiths or practices (the majority being Christian churches).[3] The article also shed light on the myriad reasons for disaffiliation, finding that "single reason disaffiliates are rare among former Mormons."[4] Reasons for leaving may include: logical/intellectual appraisal, belief changes/differences, spiritual conversions to other faiths, life crises and poor or hurtful responsiveness by Mormon leaders or congregations.[5]

Most ex-Mormons leave Mormonism and the LDS church because specific intellectual and/or spiritual reasons have led them to a conviction that the religion is false. An online poll reported the foremost reasons as disbelief both in Joseph Smith as a prophet and in the Book of Mormon as a true record of God's words and history.[6] Reasons for this disbelief include perceived inconsistencies between the Bible and the Book of Mormon, perceived lack of anthropological, linguistic, and archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica and Egypt, and DNA evidence some perceive contradicts the Book of Mormon narrative.

Many ex-Mormons additionally point to contradictions between current and early LDS leaders such as Brigham Young and Joseph Fielding Smith[citation needed]. Concerns might also exist regarding the morality, historicity, or revelatory truth of LDS teachings.[citation needed]

Those who adopt humanist and/or feminist perspectives may view LDS doctrine as racist and/or sexist. In these cases, traditional LDS doctrines regarding the spiritual status of blacks, polygamy, and the role of women in society are cited.[7]

A minority of ex-Mormons cite their personal incompatibility with Mormon beliefs or culture,[citation needed] liberal views and political attitudes[citation needed] that challenge predominant Mormon conservatism, or even sexual orientation[citation needed] as reasons for leaving Mormonism.

[edit] Post-disaffiliation issues

After their decision to leave Mormonism and the LDS church, ex-Mormons typically go through a significant adjustment period as they re-orient their lives religiously, socially, and psychologically.

[edit] Religious

Some ex-Mormons become adherents of primarily Protestant Christian religions, while others become non-religious, atheistic, or adherents of other faiths.[8] Ex-Mormon attitudes toward Mormons and Mormonism vary widely. Some ex-Mormons actively proselytize against Mormonism, while others merely provide support to others leaving the religion. Other ex-Mormons prefer to avoid the subject entirely, while still others may try to encourage dialogue between adherents of their new faiths and active Mormons. Attitudes of ex-Mormons also differ regarding their church membership. Some formally resign, which the LDS church refers to as "name removal," while others simply become inactive. At least one web-organization, MormonNoMore.com, is devoted to helping ex-Mormons effectively process their resignation requests with the LDS church.[9]

[edit] Social

Ex-Mormons who publicly leave Mormonism usually face social stigmatization. Based upon a belief that those who leave the LDS church are in danger of negative eternal consequences, Mormon peers, church officials, and family members are strongly encouraged by leaders in the faith to attempt to regather those who have left the faith.[10] However, the emotional situation created by such a rift often results in sharp criticism, or ex-Mormons feeling pressured or even ostracized by their Mormon peers' efforts. Many[citation needed] ex-Mormons become completely shunned[citation needed] and are forced to give up spouses,[citation needed] children,[citation needed] and the opportunity to enter Mormon temples to witness life events of family members, such as weddings. Ex-Mormons in geographic locations away from major enclaves of Mormon culture such as Utah may experience less stigmatization, however[citation needed].

Some ex-Mormons privately and internally leave Mormon beliefs while externally feigning them to retain Mormonism socially and culturally.[citation needed] Because they have decided objections to LDS beliefs, these differ from Jack Mormons but may overlap with Cultural Mormons.

[edit] Psychological

Most ex-Mormons go through a psychological process as they leave Mormonism. Former Mormon Bishop Bob McCue described his disaffiliation as recovery from group expectations, cognitive dissonance,[11] and fraud and abuse.[12] According to ExMormon.org, whose mission is "to let people who are or were in Mormonism, know they are not alone in their feelings and experiences in their quests to regain their lives after years in this religion", other ex-Mormons may compare their experiences to leaving a cult,[13] mind control,[14] or adjusting to life outside of religious fundamentalism.[15][page # needed][16] Still others compare their symptoms to divorce from marriage.[17] The pressure placed on those who feel a need to move on coupled with previous heavy sacrifices many made for the religion may create a sense of self-doubt and depression as ex-Mormons confront feelings of betrayal and loneliness.[18][Quotation from source requested on talk page to verify interpretation of source][page # needed]

Over time, however, many ex-Mormons have reported a new sense of self discovery, belief exploration, spiritual guidance and new connections. Leaving can provide a renewed sense of self confidence and internal peace as cognitive dissonance fades.[19] Reynolds qualitative work makes sense in the light of psychological research that shows those who are true to their own intrinsic spirituality, "those who internalize their beliefs and live them regardless of the consequences," demonstrate significantly improved wellbeing indicators in areas such as anxiety, tolerance, responsibility, intellectual efficiency, and sociability.[20] Whereas, those who adhere to a religion for extrinsic reasons, those who are part of a religion "as a means of obtaining status, security, self-justification, and sociability," demonstrate significantly lower well being indicators in the same areas[21]

[edit] Latter-day Saint views of ex-Mormons

LDS religious texts teach that Satan is actively seeking to destroy the souls of men[22] [23] and that those who "depart from the truth" will be judged in the final judgment[24] for being deceived by Satan.[25] LDS doctrine thus maintains that those who openly disagree with church hierarchy are potentially cursed or condemned, while those who reject LDS doctrine or authority outright are "apostate."[26] Apostasy of members may lead to church discipline, including disfellowship or excommunication. Officially, Latter Day Saints are told to have a loving and hopeful attitude toward apostates and to invite "the lost sheep" back to the fold.[27] However, some LDS adherents[citation needed] view apostasy in terms of their doctrine of "outer darkness" for "sons of perdition" who "deny the Holy Ghost", although this doctrine is officially applied only to those who have had an "unshakable" spiritual assurance of the truth of the faith.[28] This may cause an ex-Mormon to be regarded as a candidate for eternal damnation based on their former devotion to Mormonism, since those who have never been adherents will be judged more lightly.

Additionally, a Book of Mormon figure, Korihor,[29] is shown preaching disbelief, challenging prophecies and church leaders,[30] and was divinely struck deaf and mute for the acts. Some LDS apologists have compared both ex-Mormon authors[31] and any reasoning that leads to disbelief in Mormonism[32] with Korihor. LDS history points to trivial reasons why some members have left, such as the misspelling of a name in church records[33] or inability to get a seat at a church service.[34] However, most[citation needed] who disaffiliate from the LDS church do so for substantive reasons[citation needed].

[edit] Ex-Mormon support groups

Tight-knit local and Internet-based support group communities exist for particularly American and Australian ex-Mormons to help them cope with the strains of leaving their former belief system and building a new life.[35] Specifically, Internet-based communities range from historical forums[36][37] and blogs[38] to sites dedicated to "recovery from Mormonism",[39][40] Mormon church membership resignation,[41] newsgroups, and satire.[42] According to National Public Radio, ExMormon.org receives 160,000 hits per day, possibly making it the most popular ex-Mormon website.[35] Some high-profile ex-Mormons such as Canadian Singer Tal Bachman and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Steve Benson frequent online discussion boards to relate their experiences as members who decided to leave Mormonism.

[edit] Outlook for ex-Mormons

Ex-Mormons' social and psychological support structures previously provided at church are usually replaced with new peer groups, including other ex-Mormons, members of a new spiritual affiliation, new employment, often the ex-Mormon's own family of procreation, and sometimes surrogate family members. While challenges must be overcome and effects may remain, most[citation needed] ex-Mormons report adapting to live contented, productive lives, and do not regret their decision to leave Mormonism[citation needed].

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ William Lobdell, Los Angeles Times, Losing Faith and Lots More, December 1, 2001
  2. ^ Albrecht, S.L. & Bahr, H.M. (1990). Strangers Once More: Patterns of Disaffiliation from Mormonism. Journal of Scientific Study of Religion (28)2. 180- 200.
  3. ^ Albrecht, S.L. & Bahr, H.M. (1983). Patterns of Religious Disaffiliation: A Study of Lifelong Mormons, Mormon Converts & Former Mormons. Journal of Scientific Study of Religion 22 D. pp. 366-379.
  4. ^ Albrecht, S.L. & Bahr, H.M. (1990). Strangers Once More: Patterns of Disaffiliation from Mormonism. Journal of Scientific Study of Religion (28)2. 180- 200.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Leslie (1996). Mormons in Transition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gratitude Press.
  6. ^ Exmormon survey
  7. ^ Maxine Hanks, Women and Authority ISBN 1-56085-014-0
  8. ^ Exmormon Survey
  9. ^ www.mormonnomore.com
  10. ^ LDS General Conference, October 1999, Elder Ben B. Banks, Feed My Sheep
  11. ^ Interview with Bob McCue
  12. ^ Exmormon Foundation mission statement
  13. ^ My Mission
  14. ^ Thought reform in Mormonism
  15. ^ Life After Mormonism and the Double Bind
  16. ^ Recovery from Mormonism
  17. ^ Winell, Marlene Ph.D. Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion (New Harbinger Publications, 1993)
  18. ^ Life After Mormonism and the Double Bind
  19. ^ Reynolds, Leslie (1996). Mormons in Transition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gratitude Press
  20. ^ Bergin, A. E., Masters, K. S. & Richards, P. S. (1987). Religiousness and mental health reconsidered: A study of an intrinsically religious sample. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 197-204.
  21. ^ Bergin, A. E., Masters, K. S. & Richards, P. S. (1987). Religiousness and mental health reconsidered: A study of an intrinsically religious sample. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 197-204.
  22. ^ Covenant 10:27-33
  23. ^ http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-30,00.html
  24. ^ 3 Nephi 26:4
  25. ^ Covenant 20:15
  26. ^ Brigham Young on personal apostacy
  27. ^ “The Lost Sheep,” The Friend (Liahona), Mar. 2002, 8
  28. ^ About Mormon beliefs
  29. ^ Alma 30
  30. ^ Alma 30:27
  31. ^ "Korihor's back, and this time he's got a printing press"
  32. ^ Countering Korihor
  33. ^ History of the Church, 1, p. 261
  34. ^ George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, 11:09
  35. ^ a b Chana Joffe-Walt. "Shunned Ex-Mormons Form Own Communities", NPR. 
  36. ^ Mormons in Transition
  37. ^ http://www.aimoo.com/forum/freeboard.cfm?id=418550/
  38. ^ http://www.mormoncurtain.com/
  39. ^ http://www.exmormon.org/
  40. ^ http://www.exmormonforums.com
  41. ^ http://www.mormonnomore.com
  42. ^ Salamander Society

[edit] External links

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