Ex-LDS Members’ Narratives Reflect Similar Pattern, Speaker Says

The Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, August 9, 2002

Each story of leaving the LDS Church may be unique, but the tales often follow a certain pattern, said a speaker at the annual Sunstone Symposium on Thursday.

Those telling the story usually begin with a personal pedigree (“I am a sixth generation Mormon” or “I joined the church years ago”), give an account of what went wrong, describe the process of extracting themselves from the church and then give an account of their post-church lives, said Parker Blount, recently retired chairman of educational studies at Georgia State University.

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For his presentation at the symposium, a gathering of Mormon intellectuals meeting through Saturday at the Sheridan City Centre Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, Blount analyzed 127 narratives posted on the Recovery From Mormonism Web page (www.exmorm.org).

Blount wanted to know why “those Mormons born, or converts who have years of active participation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . discontinue church activity?”

“Do they leave [as is often said in the church] because they have been offended or guilty of serious transgressions? Or is the stereotypical hurt feelings or sin simply inadequate and the reasons for leaving much more complex?” he wondered.

Twice as many of the personal stories were written by males than females; 82 of the writers had attended some college; 51 had attended and most had graduated from LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University; 31 of the 51 of these had served missions, according to Blount’s prepared text.

Of those who didn’t attend college, 59 went on missions, 9 of whom did not complete their missions. Sixty-four were married in the temple, 27 were married but not in the temple and 22 were single. Some did not mention marital status.

Ninety percent were raised in the church, Blount said. The rest were converts.

Dissatisfaction with the church generally falls into three categories: those who were content with church membership until they discovered some historical information about the church or its doctrine; those who had some unease in the faith but stayed with it until an event triggered a break; and those with a specific and nagging question about the church which they finally decide to address.

People struggled with various issues, including the need for certainty, a negative reaction to temple ceremonies, authoritarian or controlling attitudes among leaders and lack of archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, Blount said.


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