Presentation on theme: "Why People Leave the LDS Church, and what family/friends/community can do about it By John P. Dehlin."— Presentation transcript:
Why People Leave the LDS Church, and what family/friends/community can do about it By John P. Dehlin
About Me – John P. Dehlin 5 th /6 th generation Mormon –Ezra T. Benson, Samuel Rose Parkinson Lifelong member. Still active. Mission in Guatemala, Arizona Married in Temple Currently serving as Elder’s Quorum Instructor Former early morning seminary instructor
Every year, thousands of devout members leave the LDS Church, or go inactive 5 th or 6 th generation Mormons Descendents of prominent church leaders Returned missionaries Married in the temple Families
Worldwide Church Activity Rates Inactive 7-8M Active 4-5M Salt Lake Tribune, Merrill Bateman
The easy answers…. “Sinners” “Weak” “Stopped going to the temple, or reading scriptures” “Internet” “Anti-Mormon literature” For some this may be true, but for others, the answer is much more complicated….and these assumptions can be highly insulting
Why would anyone leave the LDS church? (What are they thinking/feeling? You cannot befriend/reach/help them if you don’t TRULY understand them)
Here’s how it happens (This is not to expose you to dangerous things…it’s to bring you to where they are if you intend to help)
Some seminal event… Called as seminary or Gospel doctrine teacher Watching some random TV show Some big news event Get a hold of some book or magazine article A close friend or family member Anti-Mormon literature
Larry King / Gordon B. Hinckley On Polygamy: “It’s not doctrinal” On God once being a man: “I don’t know much about it. I don’t know that we teach it.”
Newsweek “After Smith ordered an antagonistic printing press destroyed …” “By the end of his life, he had accrued some 30 wives, massive debt and hundreds of enemies. ‘I never told you I was perfect,’ he told his followers. “ "Decades of serious and honest scholarship have failed to uncover credible evidence that these Book of Mormon civilizations ever existed," --Southerton
Mark Hoffman “But why, some still ask, were his deceits not detected by the several Church leaders with whom he met?” -- Dallin H. Oaks
Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. …the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race — that they should be the 'servant of servants;' and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree" --Brigham Young JOD v. 7 p. 290 "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so" --Brigham Young JOD vol. 10, p. 109
Bad/BlackGood/White How we’re taught things are/were…. How things really are/were…. Shades and color SimpleComplex Notice the dramatic difference. This “gap” realization is what they are going through “The Gap”
3 Disclaimers: Everything I show you here can be easily substantiated through church publications. None of this is based on “anti-Mormon literature” In no part of this presentation am I blaming the “brethren” or GA’s. I believe most of the issues I show are with general membership, not leadership NONE of what I’m about to show you proves the church is “not true”. Not one thing.
What I learned growing up in the Church Joseph Smith –Was a pure, innocent boy –Turned down alcohol in surgery –Saw God and Jesus –Translated the Book of Mormon using the “Urim and Thumim” –Had one wife—Emma –Was falsely accused and persecuted –“Lamb to the slaughter” –Was 2 nd to Jesus in righteousness
What the history/facts seem to tell us Aside from all the good we know about Joseph…we also know that…. Joseph used a “magical peep stone” to help people try to find buried treasure (Many sources). This was the reason for some of the early “trials” and court cases involving Joseph (Court records) First vision has multiple, and varied accounts (Pres. Hinckley) The same peep stone mentioned above was used to “translate” the Book of Mormon--stone in a hat, plates not in sight. (Russell M. Nelson) Joseph drank beer and wine as an adult (his own journal) Joseph had 30 wives, some of them married to other men, several teenagers (familysearch.org) Joseph denied polygamy publicly (Oaks) Exposure of polygamy and destruction of printing press led to martyrdom (Oaks)
What I learned growing up in the Church Book of Mormon –“Most correct book on earth” –Found in the Hill Cumorah, in NY, where it was buried by Moroni –Is a history of the Native Americans of Central, South, and North America Book of Abraham –Translated from papyrus
What the history/facts seem to tell us Aside from all the good in the Book of Mormon Has had over 4,000 changes. Many minor, some major Geography? “Narrow neck”? Which Cumorah? Where is Cumorah? No one knows. Where are the steel swords? Armor? Bones? Horses? Elephants? Steel? Barley? Wheat? 7 day calendar? DNA? 95+% Asiatic Who are the Lamanites? View of the Hebrews Book of Abrham--Experts agree (Nibley included)—is not a translation of the papyrus
What I learned growing up in the Church Church Leadership –“Follow the prophet” –The prophet “talks with God” –Words of modern prophets are scripture. “When the brethren have spoken, the discussion ends” –Mormon Doctrine was just that. –LDS General Authorities are among the most righteous people in the world.
What the history/facts seem to tell us In spite of having some great leaders, they have not been perfect Brigham Young –Adam-God theory, Blood atonement –Racist teachings Journal of Discourses: Dead Church History: Less than candid Big changes –Polygamy: from everlasting to embarrassment –Blacks: from “never in this life” to “what ban?” “Policy not doctrine” Mormon Doctrine –Massive errors. Elder McConkie censured and punished Paul Dunn, George P. Lee, Richard Lyman Mark Hoffman Abuses –Sexual –Baptismal –Ecclesiastical
What I learned growing up in the Church Church Doctrine –Same yesterday, today, and forever –Straight from God to the Prophets Word of Wisdom –Joseph turned down wine, Jesus drank grape juice Temple Ceremony –Direct from God
What the history/facts seem to tell us Pres. Hinckley on Larry King: –On men becoming Gods and vice versa: “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it.” –On polygamy “Not doctrinal” Word of Wisdom –Not commandment until early 1900s. Many prophets/apostles drank/used tobacco –Joseph had a bar in his mansion. Drank wine the night before he was murdered. Temple Ceremony –Many direct connections to Masonic lodge –Drastic changes in ceremony from inception to now
Again…NONE of this proves the church is false. Much of it has very reasonable explanations. But….think about the gap between what was taught or understood/believed, and what really was/is. It’s HUGE.
How they feel Stunned Betrayed/Lied to “Cover up” Disgusted Angry Their world/church view was this…. And now they realize that it’s really like this
Once this happens to you… You never look at Joseph Smith the same way again You never look at scripture the same way again You never look at the church the same way again You never think of “authority” the same way again Your concept of God and Jesus and the “one true church” can change dramatically
How do We Treat Those Who Leave? Fear Labels – “Anti-Mormon”, “Ex-Mormon”, “Apostate”, “Dangerous”, “Arc-Steadiers” Cease communication Ostracize/Distance Results –Divorce, Dissolution of Family –Loss of community –Job loss
What did Jesus Do? Associated with everyone (Publicans, etc.) Defended those that were struggling against the “religious” “Go after the 1….leave the 99” “Go the extra mile. Carry their load” “Turn the other cheek” Listened, loved
How to help—What NOT to do Fear Judge Distance/ostracize Make them a project –I/it (object) vs. I/Thou (person) Pressure/“Guilt trip” Try to justify or practice “bad apologetics”
How to help—What TO do Validate & acknowledge. Empathize. Unconditional love. Embrace Genuine friendships (regardless of church status) Provide open forums. Listen and learn. Instigate a broader education of membership Try to find callings that will benefit both sides Provide positive role models (Sunstone, Dialogue, FAIR, Bloggernacle, etc.) Ultimately respect free agency (but not as a threat) –Express ultimate desire for their happiness, and decide UP FRONT that this relationship is not tied to their return to church (and mean it)
Things for them to Consider Is perfection, or even the lack of major flaws, the measure of affiliation/relationships? –Where is the perfect church? Government? Business? Marriage? Family? –If “lack of major flaws” were the criteria, what relationship would survive? Do we ever have an obligation to help make things better, vs. pack up and leave? There are role models –Sunstone, Dialogue, FAIR, FARMS, Bloggernacle Forget “true”….consider “good” –What will bring you the most joy? Look to the Church as a good place to SERVE You CAN be a Mormon on your own terms –At the core, everyone is
And finally… Can people be deeply flawed, and still be inspired by God? (think Jonah, David, Peter, Judas, Lehi, etc.) Can scripture be flawed, and remain inspired by God? (think Old and New Testaments) Can the Church make mistakes, sometimes even very serious ones, and still be inspired of God? Part of maturity, I would argue, is finding out that things aren’t like thought…but deciding not to give up.