Saturday, August 30, 2008

"They leave the church but can't leave it alone"

Ever wonder why Mormons have such a low opinion of former Mormons? Check out the title link. The possible reasons for apostasy listed are:
  • Having once been enlightened their minds are now darkened
  • They are Judas like (traitors)
  • They just don't believe the gospel
  • Having once had a testimony they never deny it. A testimony cannot be reduced to an illusion.
  • They're using intellectual reservations to cover behavioral lapses
  • One loses his testimony only by listening to the evil one.
  • They leave because they have sinned.
  • They left by the instigation of Satan and are now in his service.
I'm actually OK with being called an apostate, because that is what I most definitely am. However if you look at the list above you can see why within the church apostates have a bad name and why apostasy has such a negative connotation. After all, if you trust the church and its leaders then apostates are under the influence of the evil one and knowingly rejecting the truth.

It sort of explains why my father came up to me and my young nephew this summer and said, "Don't believe a word he says, you can trust Uncle Bull." He laughed. My nephew looked puzzled. Perhaps he thought it was just a teasing joke. But who says that? Would he have said that if not for my apostasy?

I'll credit the author of the post with a couple of isolated instances where he concedes that some apostates can leave the church alone and that there may be reasons why they can't (family, etc.) and that they might not all leave because of sin. But the overall tone of the article is pretty consistent with the way the Mormon church, like many other religions, portrays apostates.

By the way. I am a sinner. I won't burden you with a confession here, but trust me that I'm guilty of plenty of problems. But it has nothing to do with my apostasy. My disbelief has nothing to do with my personal faults. In fact I continue to try to improve today just like I did when I believed.

Maybe the Mormons are right. Perhaps my mind has been darkened by Satan. Maybe I've lost the light of the Spirit (whatever that is, presumably anything that makes you agree with Mormonism). But it sure doesn't seem like that to me. I simply became aware of additional facts that I never learned while a member that caused me to re-evaluate the facts and come to a different conclusion. I changed my mind.

By the way, it wasn't easy to make that change. Changing beliefs in such a dramatic way isn't easy and wasn't done casually. And perhaps that's why the attitudes toward apostates irritates me so much. It seems like they want to demonize people like me rather than concede that perhaps I had valid reasons and left for good reasons.


LifeOnaPlate said...

Indeed, the phrase on leaving the church but not leaving it alone is problematic if applied too literally. There clearly are members who do leave the church and leave it alone. Some don't seem to have it so easy, for whatever reason. It's not fair to conclude it is due to sin, otherwise no one would stay in the Church because everyone sins. Apostasy is much more complex than is generally discussed.

LifeOnaPlate said...

*just wanted to note my purpose in that post wasn't to fully investigate apostasy, but to trace the origin of the phrase itself.