Recently there was an article in City Weekly (12 Jan 2012) by Greg Wilcox titled: “Losing Faith: Finding a New Path Without God.” The focus of the article was on several young individuals leaving Mormonism, becoming atheists, and joining a group of like-minded individuals in Utah Valley. For me, the most thought-provoking paragraph of the article was a quote from “Merris,” a former LDS missionary who is now an atheist:
“I think I have more problems with those who stick around in it and want to reform it, as if it’s some sort of democratic thing,” Merris says. “There’s this whole movement, like ‘New Order Mormons,’ for people who have become intellectually disenchanted with the church, but they still want to be a part of it. But I think it’s an invalid organization from the foundations up. Why reform that? Just leave it.”
I find Merris statement to be overly harsh, considering the large number of members who would fall into the category of being “disenchanted,” particularly with the LDS Church’s current attitude toward gays. Members may not be able to “reform” the LDS institution, but they can effectuate change.
James Faulconer, the Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, made the following statement: “if I believe that the Church is, on the whole, led by revelation, then I must be doubly skeptical of my opinions.” But Faulconer is wrong, personal opinions do count. The LDS Church is not a cult, we should not follow our leaders blindly. The Church is a less-than-perfect evolving institution.
We all make decisions about what religion or non-religion we choose to join. Mormon “doubters,” who stay in their less than perfect church, are important because they will subtly influence the path their religion will take. And there are examples of how members have brought about significant change.
Many Mormons have a strong belief in God, yet find their institutional church to be imperfect. So they have two choices, stay or leave. Some stay because they can find nothing better. Those who stay shouldn’t be intimidated with silly statements made by individual members like Faulconer, or Merris for that matter.