There has been a recent buzz about a group of Latter-day Saints who decided to “declare their independence” from Mormonism. The Salt Lake Tribune writes about it here.
I can echo the words of LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy, who said,
“We love and respect every member of the church. People make their own decisions about the direction they will follow in life. While there are very few who take this action, it is sad to see someone choose to leave. We wish them well.”
Still, I’m not sure I can respect what they’re doing as they climb Ensign Peak carrying signs that say things like “Finally ExMormon,” “Research the Church,” and “Transcend Mormonism”. Even though they argue that their goal is not to conquer the Church, this behavior suggests otherwise.
And what is behind this “mass” exodus (some 120 of the almost 14 million Latter-day Saints)?
- Issues with the “timeline of events laid out in the Book of Mormon” (whatever that means.
- The LDS stance on homosexuality
- Issues with Joseph Smith
- The LDS Church’s short-lived interest in forged documents from Mark Hofmann
These, and other issues like them (different accounts of the First vision, Joseph Smith’s polygamy, and other anti-Mormon drivel), have been addressed by LDS scholars time and time again. If some are not satisfied with these answers, that is fine – as Purdy says, “People make their own decisions about the direction they will follow in life”.
People with purely philosophical differences with Mormonism, though, do not band together and hike a mountain carrying signs, or write blog posts like this. I, for example, don’t align 100% philosophically with Buddhism, and yet I have not (yet) climbed atop locations with religious significance to Buddhists carrying signs decrying their beliefs.
There are deeper things here.
Another of the reasons behind one person’s “resignation” was the money spent by the LDS Church on the City Creek Center mall. For an example of a retort to this “What would Jesus build?” criticism, see here. Just as with all the other claims, there are answers out there for those who want to find them.
But for those uninterested in knowing whether or not the Book of Mormon is true or Joseph Smith was God’s prophet, and knowing it from God, those answers are little more than pearls before swine. They’ll have to overcome their deeper issues first.
While we can’t know for sure, I suspect that one day these people will feel as Lyman Johnson once did. To the Twelve Apostles he said,
“If I could believe ‘Mormonism’ as I did when I traveled with you and preached, if I possessed the world I would give it. I would give anything, I would suffer my right hand to be cut off, if I could believe it again. Then I was full of joy and gladness. My dreams were pleasant. When I awoke in the morning my spirit was cheerful. I was happy by day and by night, full of peace and joy and thanksgiving. But now it is darkness, pain, sorrow, misery in the extreme. I have never since seen a happy moment.“
But again, with Purdy and the leadership of the Church, I wish them well once their 15 minutes of fame has come and gone.