This morning I re-read a comment from CJ on yesterday’s post:
The real reason people are leaving: those who consider themselves to be faithful members, but who inexplicably fail to become mindless jumper-wearing, jello-eating drones, are told “faith promoting” things like “you shouldn’t have a Temple Recommend”. If membership has to dictate one’s personality and character, then it’s only going to become less and less appealing. I, for one, like to think that I can be both religious and free-thinking–but, increasingly, I’m being told by church that I’m wrong.
I wonder how many people are leaving due to a lack of belief (there’s certainly plenty of that) and how many are leaving because they prize their individualism?
For me it was a little of both. I discovered the numerous problems with The Church’s historical and truth claims, but the trauma this caused to my testimony wasn’t ultimately what caused me to throw up my hands and walk away. It was the absolute taboo on discussion of controversy, combined with The Church’s willful encouragemwilful”Lying for the Lord.” I soon discovered that facts are not of interest to The Church. If a fact makes Mormonism look good, then it was true. If it casts a negative light on Mormonism, then it is false. My efforts to discuss controversial or complicated issues in a spirit of genuine inquiry were met with hostility and accusations of disloyalty. Ironically, the church that taught me to value my integrity above everything was behaving in such a way that my integrity forced me to leave.
I’m curious to specifically hear from CJ, but if any other faithful nonconformists (people who believe in the basic premise of Mormonism but do not adhere to the culture and practice of Mormonism in a typical active Mormon way) have answers to these questions please do share.
What do you consider the secret to your success in thinking you can be “both religious and free-thinking”? I do believe there are plenty of denominations that encourage this (Reform Judaism, Unitarianism and Lutheranism come to mind) but I agree that the LDS church can suffer from an emphasis on conformity and (sometimes public) humiliation of those who are faithful but different. You said that increasingly you’re told by the church that you are wrong. Who tells you that you are wrong? On what do they base their authority? Does anyone ever come to your defense? Why or whdefence
What do you consider to be “The Church”? Do you think there is any difference between “The Church” as in the list of members maintained by the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, and “the church” as in a body of believers? What matters more to you, The Church or the church? Do you believe that the employees of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop (apostles, general authorities, Correlation committee, and other bureaucrats) are right to have complete say over what constitutes a “Good Mormon”? What would the breaking point be for you between your faith in the church and your ability to maintain membership in The Church? How much do you think being a member in good standing of The Church affects your salvation?
Many nonconformists who are still active in The Church feel that their presence has value as a force fighting conformity, but others resent the fact that being different requires them to represent Those Who Are Different, when they’d rather just be accepted as part of the fold. Do you think that the slow drain of nonconformists from The Church is inevitable? Do you think that The Church is happy to see them go, making it easier to guarantee conformity of belief and behaviour? Do you think it would be useful or not useful for The Church to encourage open debate, doubt, and questioning?
If these are too many questions to answer in the comments section, please leave a link to any blog posts that discuss these issues.