“Losing Faith”

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.

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2 Responses to “Losing Faith”

  1. susan says:

    I do not find Merris statements to be silly. Some people don’t adapt well to change, can’t be a fence sitter, or pick and choose. Hopefully the following analogy makes sense:

    Alcoholism. I have been lucky enough to have not had this vice in life. But from what I understand, those who are true alcoholics and wish to change must TOTALLY leave its grips. They have to literally find a different life, friends, and make the difficult commitment to never touch a drop of alcohol again, or risk return to their old ways. For some, it is their only way out of a dreaded disease. It’s a clean break. All or nothing.

    Don’t you think that it could be the same for some who are part of an organized religion and decide that they must leave it? It has been so much a part of their lives, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc., that they have no choice, if they truly want to leave, but to make a clean break. It’s the only way to move on, start anew, have a chance at another way of life. It doesn’t mean they give up service or those things that were of importance to them in their “previous” life. It just is the only way of coping because they’ve made such a dramatic switch, from a god-fearing Christian in an organized church, to an Agnostic/Atheist and/or other form of organization that is different.

  2. roger hansen says:

    Silly was a poor choice of words for Merris’s statement. But I stand by “silly” for Faulconer’s comment. My point in relation to Merris’s statement is that for may dissatisfied Mormons staying in the Church is a valiable option. People stay in the Church for a variety reasons including family, socialization, family heritage, like some of the doctrine, etc. And many find that Mormonism is the best option they have. For these individuals, trying to change the church can be frustrating but it is possible. If enough frustrated Mormon voice their opinion, then it has been demonstrated that institutional change is possible (but probably slow).

    I think being a Jack Mormon or “cafeteria” Mormon is a defensible position to have.

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