The Ex-Mormon’s Progress

Let me tell you a story about a girl named Sue from Orem, Utah.

Sue was raised by parents who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

When Sue was eight years old, she was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. 

At age twelve she became a Beehive; at fourteen, a Mia Maid; and at sixteen, a Laurel. 

After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Brigham Young University. There she decided to major in elementary education. After her freshman year, she decided to serve a full-time mission. Sue was a successful missionary and served an honorable mission for eighteen months.

When she returned to BYU, she met her husband Jim, a handsome young man and also a returned missionary who was studying accounting. The two were married in the Provo Utah Temple, and Sue shortly thereafter became pregnant with their first child—a boy they named Dallin.

Sue and Jim attended their church meetings faithfully. Once a month they bore heartfelt, emotional testimony that they knew the Book of Mormon was true and that they were part of the only true and living church on the face of the earth. During Sunday school they would both make comments about how this or that scripture so obviously proves the Church is true, and how other religions are so obviously false. They paid their tithing and served in callings. They were always thrilled whenever they had missionary opportunities. On one occasion, they gave an extra copy of the Ensign to a hitchhiker they picked up on their way back home from Jim’s parents’ house in Rexburg, Idaho. On another occasion, they left a copy of the Book of Mormon in a nearby laundromat with their testimonies scribbled inside. 

Whenever they met together with friends, Sue and Jim could not help but relate stories about how they shared the gospel with someone that week. Every Monday night, Sue and Jim would hold Family Home Evening where they would take turns reading their favorite scriptures and then indulge their sweet tooth with root beer floats.

Life was perfect for the “forever family” of Sue, Jim, and baby Dallin, and it was all thanks to the Church and the gospel.

Then one day, while she was innocently scrolling through Facebook, Sue saw a friend of hers comment about something called the “CES Letter” and how he was leaving the Church because of it. Sue was disheartened, perplexed, and saddened. In the back of her mind she had a nagging desire to read this “CES Letter,” if only to prove how stupid it was, but she remembered being told never to read “anti-Mormon” literature. Anti-Mormons, and those who left the Church, were nothing but bitter, selfish, and deceived individuals who, sadly, had allowed Satan to cloud their minds. They had all lost the Spirit, and were nothing but proud, vain, and stiffnecked. (And a good number of them, like the ones who picket at Temple Square during General Conference, were just in it for the money.)

The nagging wouldn’t go away, however, so while Jim was at school one afternoon, Sue downloaded the “CES Letter” and began reading. 

She was horrified, shocked, and dismayed at what she read. Her mind began to race, and she began to panic. If even a fraction of what she was reading was true, then there was overwhelming proof that Joseph Smith was a con man and the Church was a complete scam. Sue began to emotionally spiral out of control. She had never felt this much pain and distress before. Her whole world began to collapse around her. Had she really been brainwashed by a cult that was lying to her by withholding the truth? She had never heard any of the things mentioned in this PDF in Sunday school, or in the MTC, or in seminary, or during General Conference. The only logical conclusion was that the religion she had dedicated her life to was an absolute fraud.

Sue was able to fake being okay for a while (she put on a very convincing smile at church), but eventually Jim caught on, and asked her what the problem was. She tearfully told him everything. In order to support his wife, Jim also read the PDF . . . 

After three months of “deep research” online (mostly listening to podcasts and reading websites), Sue and Jim lost their testimonies entirely. They decided not to remove their names from the records of the Church (yet), but mostly just to spare the feelings of Sue’s TBM grandma. They continued attending their student ward at BYU in order to keep their ecclesiastical endorsements, but with some online help they devised clever ways to bamboozle their bishop into thinking they were still faithful and keeping their covenants. (That idiot!) After suffering through two hours of church each week (quietly texting each other back and forth during sacrament meeting about what a bunch of braindead sheeple the Morgbots in their ward were), they would go home and immediately jump onto the ex-Mormon subreddit. There they connected with likeminded individuals who, like them, had finally opened their eyes.

With deep emotion and firm conviction, Jim and Sue loved to share how much they adored the work of Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin. They donated to Dehlin for his amazing podcasts in addition to giving a generous offering at the beginning of each month to Zelph on the Shelf’s Patreon. (When they had saved up enough money, they eagerly planned on going on one of Dehlin’s much-hyped cruises; they were just so happy to get a 10% raise in order to spend their money on more important things.) Along with other exMos, they loved to share their favorite passages from the CES Letter and rehash their favorite arguments that absolutely destroyed the money-making scam that is the Mormon cult/TSCC.  Occasionally they met up with other exMos in the area for cocktails, where they took turns bearing their testimonies (sometimes ironically to be edgy and sometimes sincerely) about the untruthfulness of the Church.

They relished telling stories about how they red-pilled their friends and family with the CES Letter. Jim talked about how he had printed out CES Letter pass-along cards and left some on park benches, in grocery stores, and even tucked away in hymnals in the chapel. Sue gleefully wrote a post about how she left a copy of the CES Letter out on the coffee table when her ministering sisters came to check up on her. They planned on actually leaving a physical copy of the CES Letter in the nightstand next to the Book of Mormon in the Marriott they’re staying in on their anniversary.

But all was not entirely well for Sue and Jim. You see, Jim’s father happened to have an extensive collection of books on Mormon history, doctrine, and scripture. Stuff he’d collected over decades of study. Names like Richard Bushman, Leonard Arrington, James Allen, Hugh Nibley, Milton Backman, Davis Bitton, Truman Madsen, John Welch, and John Sorenson were printed on the spines. (Jim vaguely remembered seeing the books on the shelf when he was young, but had never been curious enough to so much as even thumb through any of them.) When Jim tried to red-pill his father with the CES Letter, he wouldn’t have it. He went through it point by point and explained to Jim how these issues had been resolved in his mind, and how the CES Letter was misleading or inaccurate in a number of details. To make matters worse, Jim’s father triggered him by saying he wasn’t as informed on these matters as he perhaps thought he was and asking him if he would take some time to read a website called FairMormon, which, he said, had extensive rebuttals to the claims made in the CES Letter. (Needless to say, Jim was outraged at his father’s gaslighting and complete lack of empathy.)

Well, Jim knew better than to read “apologist” books or websites. His buddies on Reddit told him everything he needed to know about those clowns. Apologists, and those who stay in the Church even after reading the CES Letter, were nothing but brainwashed, deceitful individuals who, sadly, had allowed cognitive dissonance and mental gymnastics to cloud their critical thinking. They were emotionally and intellectually crippled by their psychological need for their silly, magical worldview to be true, no matter what. (And this was to say nothing about paid apologists like Tapir Dan.) 

And so life was even more perfect for Sue and Jim and baby Dallin. Better than anything they had before, actually. They were now woke af, and it was all thanks to the CES Letter.

The end.
Oh for no particular reason here’s an article by Rosemary Avance and a quote by Denys Turner:
Some years ago, and in younger, more foolhardy, days, finding myself in a tight spot in a public debate with a philosopher atheist at Bristol University, I made a wager with my audience: I would give anyone present five minutes to explain his or her reasons for atheism and if, after that, I could not guess correctly the Christian denomination in which that person had been brought up, I would buy her a pint of beer. As luck would have it I was not broke at the subsequent revels, though in taking the risk I was backing the mere hunch that most philosophical, principled, not merely casual atheisms are the mirror-images of a theism; that they are recognisable from one another, because atheisms fall roughly into the same categories as the theisms they deny; that they are about as interesting as each other; and that since narrowly Catholic or Methodist or Anglican atheisms are no more absorbing than narrowly Catholic, Methodist or Anglican theisms, they do not exactly amount to an over-rich diet for the theologian.1
  1. Denys Turner, “Apophaticism, Idolatry and the Claims of Reason,” in Silence and the Word: Negative Theology and Incarnation, eds. Oliver Davies, Denys Turner (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 14-15.

95 thoughts on “The Ex-Mormon’s Progress”

  1. I suspect that there’s far more to this story than what is told. Rejecting the CJCLDS is one thing. Rejecting your own belief in God is something else. I wish them the best.

    • Ralf,

      This article is something of an allegory or parable (hence the allusion to Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress in the title). It’s not based on an actual real couple (although the components to the story are taken from many real ex-Mormon exit narratives).

      • Actually, a really cool fact is that the Hebrews did not use their left hand when possible. They considered it unholy/unclean. Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean taking a beating willing, but rather standing up for yourself in a manner that they can’t attack. The culture of the Israelites is always an interesting thing.

  2. I find this to be incredibly dismissive of those who have endured pain. Though I personally have made my own peace with the contradiction, that is not to say that those who I love who have decided to leave the church are illegitimate and refuse to read from apologists. Some of my dearest friends who have left are more aware of the answers from FAIR than almost any lay member of the church. Acknowledge their pain, validate their experience, love them. Don’t write these articles.

  3. This is a pretty infantile way to attack people who no longer believe as you do. I identify with this couple. My experience has been tragic quite frankly. Discovering many of these uncomfortable truths, knocked me off my feet. Caused significant pain, and mental and physical suffering.

    You need not go further than the Church’s essays to get to some very uncomfortable facts about our Church. Maybe I should have known Joseph married a 14 year old, his maid, and other Men’s wives, but I didn’t. Maybe I should have known the BoA isn’t actually a translation of anything, but I didn’t. Maybe I should have known a bunch of other information, but I didn’t.

    I simply lived my life exactly as the Church had directed. I studied what the Church through my education, mission, and membership asked me to study.

    These uncomfortable truths hit me like a jack hammer when I was 39 years old and had given my entire life (and my family’s) to the Church. The essays led me to doubt, this doubt led me to FAIRmormon, FAIR led me down many rabbit trails that I never even knew existed. The tone of the FAIR responses, a big degree of arrogance and smugness with a dash of deception, led me to Mormon think, and so on… To the extent you produce stuff like this you are reflecting a undercurrent within Mormonism, a certain unique style of pious viciousness. I serve in a Bishopric. Though, I don’t believe the “dominant narrative” is true, I do believe the Church can be a powerful influence for good in the world. As much as the exmo stereotype you reference tears apart the church from oneside, you my friend tear it apart from the other.

    • “attack people”, “exmo stereotypes,”

      I literally just condensed dozens of ex-Mormon exit narratives (documented through ethnographic work such as the one I linked to at the end of the post) into a short allegory, and yet here I stand accused of all sorts of vicious evil. What a fascinating thing to behold.

      Also, thank you for sharing your own stereotypical narrative that reinforces my post.

      • You are an intelligent guy. No doubt well versed, educated and faithful to the Church. I wish you the best. Unfortunately, any persecution of any significant degree, the Church experiences today, is at the hands of its own members. I think you were successful in agitating that persecution in a small way today, which is unfortunate. I think you are better than that.

    • How interesting that (you) “serve in a Bishopric. Though, (sic) (you) don’t believe the “dominant narrative.” I assume you need a temple recommend to serve in your calling. Did you answer the temple questions truthfully, including the ones sustaining the Church and its leaders as true and actual prophets, seers, and revelators? If not, do you have the integrity to “own up” to your deception and confess to your Bishop your disbelief?

      • Michael Loveridge, I would like to challenge a few assumptions you are making here. A person can wholeheartedly sustain someone and disagree with them even on major issues. There are many issues which do not appear in the temple recommend questions but which faithful members can hold different opinions about (e.g. gay marriage, historicity of the Book of Mormon, literal nature of biblical events etc.). These differences are not things which require confession to a church leader and your insistence that someone else do so seems like a sort of pathological thought policing. Believing the “dominant narrative” and being faithful to your covenants are not synonymous! I hope you will find a more Christlike way of interacting with those who think differently than you.

          • I think that is possible. I am going by the definition put forth by LDS apostles though so I’m not sure where you are getting your definition from

    • Okay, I’ll bite. I’ve read a great deal of literature from FAIR as well, and haven’t found them arrogant, smug, deceptive, or piously viscous to any degree. Can you point to representative examples of this behavior? It shouldn’t be hard because these behaviors were exhibited to a “big degree.”

      • My personal experience was that it felt that way when I was experiencing a faith crisis. I no longer feel that way as I can look back at things without all the grief that accompanied a loss of my treasured beliefs and worldview. I think the reason it comes across like that is the general lack of validation and personal ministry in cold online resources. The explanations about difficult issues come from a relative certainty and do not address the underlying hurt that the individual is experiencing. It is not wrong to be confident in ones beliefs, to be pious, or to present a clearly biased perspective but those tendencies felt incongruent with my experience during that difficult time. Do you see how that might come across as “arrogant, smug, deceptive or piously viscous” to a sincere seeker who is newly thrust into a position of humility after confronting difficult facts that cause one to question their most treasured beliefs?

        • Notice what just happened here, Brandon.

          Greg Bell came in here making positive, declarative statements about how mean and nasty FairMormon is. “Arrogant, smug, deceptive or piously viscous,” etc. These are claims that, presumably, can be verified by providing some specific examples.

          Instead, we’re now being told how you felt about FairMormon, then and now. You then pivot by asking us to imagine how uncharitable it is for FairMormon not to “validate” (whatever that means) “the underlying hurt that the individual is experiencing.”

          It’s really simple: is FairMormon “arrogant, smug, deceptive or piously viscous” or isn’t it? If it is, then show specific, concrete examples of how it is. If it’s not, and if no specific, concrete examples can be given, then whatever you might feel about it is irrelevant.

          Furthermore, did it occur to you that “validating feelings” is not what FairMormon is about? There are plenty of people online who will “validate” feelings of the disaffected. FairMormon’s self-declared mission is to “provide[] faithful answers to criticisms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” not have a big hug-session with people who have hurt feelings. This isn’t to say that the emotional response people have in a faith crisis isn’t important to address. It is to say that FairMormon is not the place where you go to find that.

          In other words, it is manifestly unfair to criticize FairMormon for being something it never claimed to be. If one is interested in finding out how valid the historical claims made in the CES Letter might be, for example, then FairMormon is the place to go. If one wants to feel “validated” emotionally, then FairMormon is not the place to go. But getting mad at FairMormon because of one’s misimpression of what it should be trying to accomplish is, well, more than a little suspect.

          • I am not angry with FairMormon. I understand it’s purpose and see why it can be helpful for some. I am not here to criticize. I was simply explaining how it is possible for a person in the midst of a faith crisis to have such a negative experience in such a space.

            I think it is worrisome whenever someone says that feelings are irrelevant. In math that is true. In interpreting historical narrative surrounding ones deepest held beliefs… it kinda becomes relevant.

            I wanted so much for the narrative presented on FM to be right. I ended up though feeling very uncertain when trying to divorce the facts from my feelings and being presented with answers written with certainty. I do not blame FM for that tone deaf approach. I know that is is not the place where one should seek validation or even a balanced view. I found those things in other places.

            To prove that something is deceptive means being able to show what truth is. To prove something is arrogant is difficult because certainty is not always arrogance. Sometimes you are just right. It is the ultimate conclusions regarding the material presented which effects ones assessment of whether it is arrogant or deceitful and that discussion is not something which I can give you in a short comment.

            All I am trying to do is share my experience of what I felt when I was in the thick of things and try to explain why I think that tends to happen. You may take that for what you will but it was not meant as a criticism. Just trying to help people who want to understand where that perspective might come from. It is not probably wrong or probable right… it is just my experience.

        • Sorry I’m so late in responding. I appreciate your personal experience. I was looking for specific articles, sentences, phrases, or behaviors with links or screen shots. I still don’t see it. It sounds like you needed a good home teacher or a hug more than FAIR articles but I’m not sure that makes FAIR arrogant and all that. Anyways, best wishes.

          • Because it seems you actually want to know what types of things come across wrong and are not just trying to be argumentative I’ll point you to one response which came across to me as very snarky and arrogant. Jim Bennet’s “A faithful reply to the CES letter from a former CES employee.” This is listed by FAIR as “highly recommended” for those struggling with church history after being exposed to the CES letter. This is the first thing that comes to mind which left a bad taste in my mouth.

            Perhaps Ironically, I found more epistemic humility present in online support groups led by post-Mormons than faithful members. I did end up finding ways to reconcile difficult history from a faithful perspective but subsequently found that the charitable view required to do so allowed me to see God directing other flawed human religions as well. What started out as a faith crisis for me resulted in what I consider a faith expansion.

            I might have even stayed in the church if my wife has not had a crisis moment of her own shortly after that. Her experience was different from mine and the church no longer felt like a place she could experience the divine so we decided to seek a different faith community. The arrogant and sometimes ignorant responses from well intentioned apologists are part of what makes it hard to see the church as “seeker friendly.”

            I choose to continue to engage because I think many members also want the church to be a safer place for people to voice sincere questions and receive answers in a faithful context. I share that purpose and hope the apologist community tries harder in the future to understand those who leave. In general I think they are doing better but then there are satirical blogposts like this one and occasional insensitive responses like Jim Bennet’s CES letter response which do not speak in ways I think Christ would approve of. I try to point them out when I see them because it seems there are faithful members who share the same goals as me to minister to those in crisis instead of just winning points in the debate with sarcasm and mockery.

    • You can always tell when people are about to pitch an emotional, childish fit. They always start off by saying things like, “This is a pretty infantile way to…” It is right up there with such sayings as, “I’m not a racist, but….” and “I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but….”

  4. On Feb 10, 2013, while sitting in Gospel Doctrine class I was pricked with a question as to why we ever practiced polygamy when D&C 49:16 specifically stated a man should have “one wife.” I had just gotten a new iPad so I decided to google the question. I knew of the dangers of “anti-Mormon” literature so as I was scrolling I made sure to only look on either or other faithful websites. I stumbled onto I had never heard of that website and, although I was forty years old and a very active member my whole life, I had never considered what an “apologist” was. The church had just always been true and that was that. I was horrified to see the topics list wherein HUNDREDS of very troubling subjects were trying to be defended by ordinary church members. I was dumbfounded and crushed.

    Needless to say, after a week of all day reading of Fair’s website and completely sleepless nights (I didn’t go into work), I expressed my loss of faith to my “forever” wife through gushing tears.

    We met with our family friend and recently released official church historian, Marlin Jensen who confirmed all the troubling facts. Our conscious would no longer allow us to continue in such an organization and we resigned the Sunday after that meeting (in two months time).

    You’ll dismiss us as you include us with your ridiculous story but truth is truth no matter where it’s found. Keep kicking against the CES Letter pricks. The more you complain about it the more people are made aware of its existence and influence.

    The church must change its narrative. It’ll continue to self-implode until it recognizes and apologizes for all its lies, deceit and false truth claims.

    FairMormon made me and thousands of others lose their testimonies because it doesn’t hold up to the problems now conveniently outlined in the CES Letter.

    Your continued gaslighting of innocent members does you more harm then you’re aware. Direct your frustrations at the leadership of the church and have empathy for the “elect” who no longer wish to be associated with a den of thieves.

        • See, it sounds to me like you do care. You’re obviously emotionally invested in your newfound identity enough that you took the time to come here and leave a long comment.

          In any event, give my regards to Bill Reel. Let him know that if he is ever interesting in expanding his collection of Tapir Hentai, he knows who to talk to.

          • Almost as much emotional investment as creating numerous blog posts and an entire career out of responding to exmormons. Did you grow up exmormon?

          • “Almost as much emotional investment as creating numerous blog posts and an entire career out of responding to exmormons.”

            LoL. I invite you to take a look at my CV and my blogging and tell me how much of my attention has been devoted to “responding to ex-Mormons.”

            “Did you grow up exmormon?”

            I did not. But Internet ex-Mormons do make for what you might call a “target rich environment.”

          • You’ll have to send me your LinkedIn. In the meantime, it seems like you spend more time on it than a random commenter on your blog does, and per your comment, time spent correlates highly to emotional investment…

    • Lol and you’re left kicking against the pricks of this post. Dude you’re a clown.

      Oh also did it ever occur to you that FairMormon only needs that many articles to respond to dumb crap like the CES Letter spouts in a world where you can get away with saying any nonsense you please? Maybe you should have double checked your assumptions there, Cap.

    • Jim knew better than to read “apologist” books or websites. His buddies on Reddit told him everything he needed to know about those clowns.

      Yeah, this is a big mischaracterization. A huge number of exmos on spent extensive time trying to make it work by reading everything possible; if they could have resolved their issues by reading church-approved materials, they would have gladly done it.

      The idea that smarmy exmos “know better than to read” apologist material (or what? They’ll get your faith back?) is just not a common exmormon experience.

      Why does this matter? Because articles like this really just makes it harder to have real, healthy discussion with believing family members. The lazy, prideful, whiny apostate characiture is not only wildly inaccurate, but damaging to important relationships.

      Most discussions with family members are not an effort to red-pill deconvert a stalwart parent, who has Rock solid answers to their concerns. Rather, the exmo is searching for connection with a spouse, relative, parent, or friend who believes that there are no legitimately concerning things on all of church history, and all apostates are fearfully deceived, unhappy, lazy, prideful, fallen lost souls. The exmos are hoping their spouse sees them as a honest human being, not a tragedy.

      • “Most discussions with family members are not an effort to red-pill deconvert a stalwart parent, who has Rock solid answers to their concerns. Rather, the exmo is searching for connection with a spouse, relative, parent, or friend who believes that there are no legitimately concerning things on all of church history, and all apostates are fearfully deceived, unhappy, lazy, prideful, fallen lost souls.”

        Of course.

        And what better way to do that then to surreptitiously leave CES Letter pass-along cards in hymnals and grocery stores, and to write CES Letter graffiti in Marriott nightstand copies of the Book of Mormon, and to send anonymous emails of the CES Letter to the student body of LDS colleges, and to leave a PDF of the CES Letter on local library computer desktops where they know the missionaries check their email, the like.

        Yep. Totally healthy, normal behavior. 10/10.

      • By the way…

        “The idea that smarmy exmos “know better than to read” apologist material (or what? They’ll get your faith back?) is just not a common exmormon experience.”

        …my work is literally banned from John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories Community Facebook page.

        Like, not even me, personally. Literally anything I write or produce. Blanket, default censorship. Not even Daniel Peterson has that honor.

        I’ve also seen scores of Reddit threads where ex-Mormons contemptuously refuse to read “apologetic” material given to them by loving, concerned family members because they already know better. They brag to each other about how much smarter they are than their stupid, brainwashed family members who are just spinning in cognitive dissonance and mental gymnastics.

        And do I even need to mention how “apologists” themselves are talked about over on the ex-Mormon subreddit? Should we start with, say, Dan Peterson (“Tapir Dan”) or Scott Gordon?

        Look, I get that in the Reddit ExMo Mythos you need a personification of the Great Primordial Evil. You need the wicked Other as a foil to the righteous Self. It is plainly obvious that the A P O L O G I S T assumes this role within the Reddit ExMo Mythos.

        It’s okay. This tendency towards some kind of cosmic pseudo-Manichaeism is a common feature of the human condition. I would just hope that any former-TBM exMos reading my quasi-allegory would be honest enough to recognize that they’ve swapped out the “apostate” with the “apologist” in their worldview. That’s all.

        • Sure, it’s totally fair to point fun at the eye-rolling behavior from Ex-Mormons – especially when they they mirror the same eye-rolling members do to share the gospel. John Larsen wryly observed years ago that ex-mormons need to learn how to become an ex-ex-mormons.

          This blog post does not read like a quasi-allegory, but rather a mockery – it hits too close to home for too many people to be an allegory.

          Realize that the vitriol directed at apologists is not because they are personification of the Great Primordial Evil. The apologists are an avatar for a frustrating to pin down concept that says, “No, we have studied EVERYTHING, and there’s nothing at all too see; all is well and simple and good in Zion, there are no concerning bits or cause for alarm, only falsehoods and lies! Anyone who says otherwise is a simple-minded traitor, lead and deceived by the Great Primordial Evil.”

          It’s fair to feel attacked by ex-mormons and want to attack back. However, it would be more pragmatic to address the exmormon attacks head-on, rather than trivializing the very, very hard years of turmoil by a few tens of thousands of people. That kind of trivialization is exactly the reason the ex-mormons attack in the first place.

          • I would love to see this same allegorical post in the flavor of the individual who, having gone thoroughly down the above rabbit hole, has emerged from the other side and returned to the church in spite of all that they have experienced as a TB Ex-Mo. I’m becoming increasingly aware of and interested in those stories because they are fundamentally erasing the claims of the Ex-Mo Subreddits. These returning folks aren’t stupid. If they are considered to be so by their former commiserating Ex-Mo compatriots, then that itself is an indictment of their own self-aggrandizing community.

            While re-entry isn’t easy for them, they persist in it. They find healing in a place they were told and were once absolutely convinced there wasn’t any. Why is that? And why is it the Reddit community cannot acknowledge this fact other than to become even more abusive of their ex-adherents than they are of those who never left?

            I submit that it’s because they’re correctly playing their part in Lehi’s dream. It’s just that each is on its own side of the river…one holding tightly to the rod of iron anew, the other holding tightly to the rail at the window of the large complex across the way.

  5. Stephen,

    Why so much apparent hate/anger? Why is this attack necessary? I am really being serious. I am not trying to yell at you. I am trying to find the motivation behind what you wrote and your comments above. It will help me sort out the discussion.

    Thank you,


    • “Why so much apparent hate/anger?”

      I literally have no idea what you are talking about.

      Maybe you could help me by identifying precisely where in my post you think I’m being hateful and angry.

      “I am trying to find the motivation behind what you wrote and your comments above.”

      No need to attempt to scry my intentions. Read the last sentence/quote of my post and you’ll see exactly what I had in mind with this post.

    • About a year ago, as I recall, I was arguing with one of Bill Reel’s followers on his Facebook page about something or other to do with the burden of proof. I made the point that you cannot prove a negative, and it is fallacious to expect somebody to do so. My interlocutor was disputing my argument. To put a fine point on it, because Tapirs have become a stupid ex-Mormon meme, I made some offhand joke along the lines of: “Well you can’t prove that you and Bill Reel don’t watch Tapir Bukkake.” It was purposefully over-the-top because I had lost all patience with Reel and his cult-like followers.

      I didn’t think much of it at the time since I blocked Reel and then left Facebook altogether not long thereafter. It was just a throwaway joke made in the heat of a Facebook argument. Recently, however, because he’s a compulsive weirdo who is desperate for any kind of relevancy or notoriety, Reel devoted some time on his podcast breaking down this episode from his perspective. (Because normal, healthy, non-obsessive human beings compulsively hoard Facebook comments from a year ago and dredge them up to score points against people long after the thing has died down.) In his podcast, he basically implied that I must be some kind of pervert because I know what bukakke is to begin with. What he’s too stupid or dishonest to realize is that, instead of me being a pervert, I know what bukakke is because I know what Urban Dictionary is, I sometimes play Cards Against Humanity with my friends, and I know what memes are.

      Because Reel’s cult-followers are even more unoriginal than he is, they’ve since tried to somehow shame me by calling me Mr. Bukakke, not realizing that I am utterly incapable of caring what Reel or his sycophants think about me, especially when it comes to the occasional off-color jokes I make, and so their efforts to shame me are entirely in vain.

      I mean…that and also because I’m a hollowed-out husk of a human being who is dead inside, obviously.

      • Hey you found the hate/anger. I don’t hate you and I’m not even angry at you. It mostly confuses me that apologists are much more toxic-sounding than the exmo community sometimes. For example, there was a post about a guy who was going to go back to church after having gone through a faith crisis – and he expected to be reamed by the exmormon reddit. Instead the consensus was, “You do you and best of luck. We hope it all works out for you.” Quite the opposite of the censorship that is the norm at the faithful subreddit.

        My faith crisis has been awful. I’m deep in depression. I think that a faithful response would be that the depression is coming from the devil, or it’s the lack of the spirit, or that I’m straying from the covenant path. It’s not any of those. It’s that none of my loved-ones can empathize with me and refuse to even read the essays by the church. That they “don’t want to know” because they might lose their testimonies too.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re not helping people like me. Maybe you’re helping those still in the boat mentally to stay in, but once they go out they already know what is being thought and said about them, and that isn’t helping. It hurts. From my perspective, it hurts quite a lot.

  6. I think you are right that sometimes the pathological parts of black and white certainty accompany some people through their transition out of Mormonism. That same spirit which does possess your bodies at the time that he go out of this church, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in the post Mormon life.

    I think though that there are many spiritually mature people who leave the church in order to be able to be true to what the spirit has taught them. That may seem odd to people like you but my own experience has been that I feel closer to God than ever before and simultaneously farther from the church. That is why this conglomeration of the most immature responses voiced on the internet to faith crisis seems like a caricature/straw man rather than anything substantial.

    I echo those above who ask, who do you think you are writing this for? In what way would this be helpful to that group?

  7. I don’t want to speak for Stephen, of course, but I’m just gonna say that from how *I* interpreted this article/story/allegory, the point is just that you shouldn’t be so quick to disdain the world view of someone else, *even if you used to believe it yourself*. The way that some people who have left the Church act toward and talk about it and its members can be ridiculous, dramatic, and mean spirited, not to mention somewhat prideful. People who feel comfortable talking so flippantly about the Church and its members would likely never talk that way about a Muslim church, or a Methodist church or member of Buddhism, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to believe that the church is right about everything or even most things, but at least be respectful. And if you notice in Stephen’s writing, Sue and Jim were a little bit shallow before and after leaving the Church. I think Stephen would agree that it’s kind of awkward and unthoughtful for members of the Church to talk in Sunday School about how we are the only true Church and how *wrong* other churches are or whatever. But he was drawing reasonable comparisons between how *some* members of the church act and how *some* ex mormons behave.

    I don’t know whether the Church is “true” or not. But it is undeniably a *good* church with some human flaws, which is true of any organization. I went through something of a faith crisis not too long ago, but I feel that I am in the process of regaining my testimony now, and that actually having had a faith crisis has actually lead me to ultimately gaining a richer and stronger relationship with the Church, God, and my own spirituality.

    Just my thoughts. I think we could all stand to be a little bit slower in thinking that we have all the knowledge, whether we are inside or outside of the church 🤷‍♀️

    • To speak more kindly about those who believe differently would be a good objective however to attempt to do so by throwing shade at people who believe differently would be ironic at best. While many former members can still recognize the church as good even if they no longer believe it to be true, I have rarely met members who are able to admit that former members may be entering a good place and following a legitimate spiritual path. If there is an issue with not having compassion for those with different views then in seems to be just as common if not more common among members of the church. Ironic if Smoot feels that by painting exmos in a bad light he can show them how to view members in a better light…

  8. This article is pure gold! And the comments are even better. Cheers and good day to you Mr. Stephen Smoot, you’ve started my day off with a smile.

  9. The reason why most ex-Mormons are not interested in reading apologetic material is the exact same reason most active LDS don’t read anti-Mormon material.
    They have both made up their minds and have no interest in looking at the “other side”.
    However, in the case of many ex-Mormons, their journey out did include looking for apologetic answers. They didn’t find any to be satisfactory and assume there is no new information that could change their minds.

  10. I started with the church essays I took my questions rather quickly to the highest levels I could Q70 and what were thought to be the most knowledgeable apologists, on some subjects. I even met with one of your mentors.

    The so called anti Mormon materials don’t do as much damage as some would think. The real damage is when a questioning member visits FAIR. And finds out the bad stuff is true.

    Sorry Steven the type of apologetics you hitched your academic career to is being pushed to the side, It isn’t needed anymore, because it is damaging the church it is trying to defend. That is the reason for the pivot of the Maxwell institute.

    • “Sorry Steven [sic] the type of apologetics you hitched your academic career to is being pushed to the side, It isn’t needed anymore, because it is damaging the church it is trying to defend.”

      So Book of Mormon Central is listed as an official approved trusted resource by Seminaries and Institutes; back in 2015 we were the first independent third-party organization to receive a license to use the Church’s 2013 edition of the scriptures; we’ve had an apostle and members of the Seventy speak at our events and openly encourage people to use us as a resource; our web traffic has now reached into the millions of views/engagements since we began operating; we’ll soon have published two books; and we have two thriving YouTube channels and a podcast.

      Yeah, I’d say “our type of apologetics” is doing just fine.

      “That is the reason for the pivot of the Maxwell institute”


      “The real damage is when a questioning member visits FAIR. And finds out the bad stuff is true.”

      Yeah, I hear this narrative/claim a lot, but I frankly don’t buy it. At least not the way it’s often presented, and especially when it’s presented so sloppily (and untruthfully) like you’ve presented it here.

      • “Yeah, I hear this narrative/claim a lot, but I frankly don’t buy it. At least not the way it’s often presented, and especially when it’s presented so sloppily (and untruthfully) like you’ve presented it here.”

        I figured you wouldn’t.

        But at least one of the church official that I regularly speak to does not refer individuals they are counseling with to FAIR-Mormon anymore, for similar reasons that I stated.

        And actually BOM Central is a pivot away from the polemic apologetics of the past. Which I see as encouraging.

  11. Bukkake is from Japanese, right? A language that I am familiar with (live in Japan, married to a Japanese, etc.).
    But I didn’t know that it had entered the English language.


    By the way, Stephen, I enjoy your work. Always pushing buttons on the right people.

  12. I have watched friends leave the church for many years, and have seen the parallel reflection that you quote at the end. I think it applies not just to recognizing different denominations, but also different ideologies WITHIN the church.

    I have found that the the thoughtful, more nuanced members end up being more thoughtful, nuanced former members. Many of these friends who leave continue to be important contributors to my thinking and understanding, willing to keep engaging with me and have a conversation, and respect my beliefs. On the other hand, the simplistic, “Everything just makes sense!” members tend to become rather intolerable “Everything just makes sense!” anti-Mormons, like the charicatures “Jim and Sue.” They also are openly and often crassly disrespectful to my perspective, when offered. They also seem drawn to Dehlin, Zelph, Runnels, and other smug podcasts/groups that have a simplistic, superficial view of things.

    Interestingly, I have also noticed that out of the ones who left the church and come back, it has been exclusively the members who maintain a thoughtful, nuanced, and scholarship informed understanding of the issues at hand. Take that to mean what you will.

  13. I find it interesting that the antagonists wish to portray the apologetics of the Church as being in disarray, shambles or unable to “just keep up” with the deluge. Actually, “deluge” is correct, the number of attacks against the church and its doctrine is exponentially increasing and to insinuate that organizations like “FairMormon” shouldn’t dare to list hundreds of responses against all of these attacks is disingenuous. It’s like saying, “look you guys shouldn’t respond to all those attacks because if there are hundreds of them, then obviously the church isn’t true.” Wow, the logic is appalling and makes you wonder if what they’re secretly saying is, “There are hundreds of attacks against the church and so, therefore, no one should never dare to defend against them.” Wow, wishful thinking in full display…
    Be that as it may, I find that the apologetics of the church is not only keeping up with the groundless and recurring ad-nauseum attacks, but actually outdistancing them and leaving them disorganized and in shambles with reliable, proven and scientific answers. It is quite pathetic to see debunked or on the flip-side, totally untrue or unproven claims thrown against the church and its members and not expect some form or type of rebuttal. Unfortunately, even when they claim that they want their arguments “overthrown” for the good of the church, when it does happen, they rarely let go of them. Sometimes I think that even if an angel were to declare to them that the Church were true, they would find reason to reject the news and the messenger.

  14. Oh, and one final comment before I leave, regardless of the state of apologetics, or what detractors, apostates, atheists, secret unbelievers or all the CES letters in the universe have to say, I want to mention that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

  15. It was striking how you equated your blog post with the reddit exmormon site. (You will stop writing stuff like this when it ceases to exist.) I found your comparison apt, since I found the same spirit or attitude prevalent in both. Becoming a mirror image of them is possibly not what you were hoping for.

  16. From my experience, those in the ex-Mormon community are FAR more adept at dishing out snark than they are at taking it. Your OP is cheeky, biting, and very representative of what I have seen in that particular community. What I don’t understand is why they would expect to be able to mock those that stay, those that believe, those on a different path, yet expect turn about not to be fair play. I would fully expect some to respond and state that bad behavior doesn’t excuse other bad behavior. I will preemptively say I agree. However, it’s difficult to empathize with their pain while so many of them and their heroes openly mock and deride those who don’t agree with them. If you post memes mocking religious leaders, or if you refer to President Nelson as “Rusty”, or if your autocorrect suggests the acronym TBM regularly, you have no standing to come here and criticize this piece for it’s snark. If you follow people who do those things regularly, and laugh at their posts, jokes and comments, without issuing the same criticism, you have no standing to come here and criticize. If the ex-Mormon community showed 1 percent of the empathy, forgiveness and understanding they claim is missing from members or leaders of the church, they might have a point. Instead many of them tend to exude the very characteristics they claim to be fighting.

  17. Do you think there is any way that the Church can embrace those who have a different faith experience than you? Perhaps those who have had an experience similar to your allegorical couple but who do not number themselves part of the “exmormon” community. Who feel there is value in remaining members but don’t see how they can be part of a community that vilifies doubters? Currently many feel there is not a safe place for them within the Church. Snark all you want with the “safe” stuff but maybe try to have some compassion for them.

    BTW, I’m sure you’re a decent, likeable fella, your online persona seems to portray the opposite.

  18. Two things:

    1) The story seems to be about “zeal without knowledge”. The couple never changed who they were, just what side of the fence they were on. They consistently remained unaware of theor own ignorane; they lack epistemic humility.

    2) Why should anyone “validate” anyone elses experience? I don’t expect anyone to validate mine. The subjective nature of any experience should free it from the need for any validation.

  19. Thanks for your thought provoking post, Stephen. It is an all too familiar tale for people I know…some of them were the very elect, and still are in my heart. But “Stranger Things” coined it correctly, we are living in the “upside down”. Where validation and cheers accompany those leaving the race rather than supporting those pushing through to the finish line. Wrong is right, up is down, and tolerance is demanded by the intolerant. The faithless are leading the new crusades to “un”convert the world.

    I don’t claim to be a scholar…I do claim to be an observer. I’ve noticed that in recent years there has been less focus on food storage for self-reliance and more on developing a resilient testimony for self-reliance. I would think that an unattended testimony, a testimony of the “milk” alone and especially a social testimony will no longer suffice. In the story I felt badly for little Dallin. Fight the good fight and God bless ALL.

  20. Great story. What I like most about the church is how it brings people with diverse beliefs and opinions together. We are all different, and I love that the church embraces these differences. It’s great that family members can either believe the Book of Mormon is fiction or non-fiction and it has no affect on their love for one another.

  21. Wow. Nice straw man you’ve set up there, and you did such a good job tearing him down little Smooty. Congrats on completely mischaracterizing the growing movement in modern Mormonism.

    Still haven’t read the CES letter…don’t need to. There’s enough damning information in the history and science books. Speaking of books, I hope you make plenty of money selling yours. You’ll need it once you realize your brand and view of apologetics is slowly being phased out by the corporation of the church.

  22. You’ve been with the professors
    And they’ve all liked your looks
    With great lawyers you have
    Discussed lepers and crooks
    You’ve been through all of
    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
    You’re very well read
    It’s well known

    Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?

  23. So, everything got better for this allegorical ex-mo couple? Better than it ever was? And they lived happily ever after? Nice. A happy ending for them! Doesn’t get better than that.

    Still, I get the sense that you’re not happy for this happy woke couple. Can’t find it in your heart? It’s okay, Stephen. I’m sure happiness is equally available to some allegorical amalgamation of stereotypical Mormon apologists. I’d say the allegory would end something like this:

    “And it came to pass that he did mock the mockers online, and when he had published his blog he was exceedingly glad, for many were brought to an awful understanding of their own weakness in his eyes; wherefore, he did retire to his study, and it came to pass that he did take comfort in his books as he silently sipped his Diet Coke; yeah, he did sip his Diet Coke with a sure knowledge that God would at last heed his prayers and smite his former brethren.”

    • You think I waste my time with Diet Coke?

      I like my soda like I like my drugs: the hard-hitting pure stuff.

      When I do heroin, I don’t do Diet Heroin. I do black-tar Mexican heroin that I inject in my eyeball.

      Likewise, when I want to drink soda, miss me with this watered-down, namby-pamby “diet” swill backwash. Give me a good old classic Coke made with 60 grams of pure cane sugar.

      So yeah, 2/10 on that little allegory of yours.

      • Stephen, no need to take it so personal. It’s just an allegory, remember? It’s not actually about YOU. Of course, I only gave you the end of the allegory. For this allegorical apologist, his metaphorical dalliance with black-tar heroin injected straight into the eyeball comes near the middle of allegory. As you can see, though, he gets back on track by the end, so no worries. Allegorical ex-mos and allegorical apologists alike deserve happy endings.

        • You’ll forgive me. I just get a little triggered when someone suggests I debase myself by drinking Diet Coke.

          Even more than y’all snowflakes are triggered over at r/mormon and r/exmormon at the moment, if you can believe it.

    • Thank you! It’s not easy being as righteous as I am when you live in a clown world surrounded by Reddit drones who suck the decency and goodness and light out of everything (especially when you’re already a lifeless husk of a human being that nature created as a sick joke like I am), but somehow I manage. #Blessed ❤️❤️

  24. Am exmo and actually find this a little funny. r/exmormon is a bit of a tire fire.

    It would be like if you made an allegory from every rant from all the resident testimony meeting crazies. I think most TBMs would get a kick out of that if someone on the group did it but not an outsider. None of them would identify with it.

    Just keep in mind 99% of exmos don’t even know what Reddit or the CES letter is.

  25. Look this is interesting but, I’d argue its a false analogy fallacy. You’ve given a very thought-provoking analogy, but what it has shown is something very human. People like feeling like they are parts of groups and they are loyal to their communities. The fact that some of the CES letter readers felt like that led them to conclusions other than yours doesn’t prove they are wrong, it proves their human. They found a new group and they feel a sense of community there, Mormonism doesn’t have a monopoly on community. To come to any other conclusion than this based on your article is erroneous.

    Many of the scholars you mentioned had doubts themselves. They stayed faithful and tried to reconcile those doubts, but they had lots of questions. I think a lot of the churches best scholars start as serious doubters (I mean Joseph Smith case and point…no church on earth is true???). Adam Miller is amazing, he has some serious questions that I think he is still working through. His books are him thinking through them in real-time. Terrell Givens, pretty unorthodox. Richard Bushman obviously takes issue with the dominant narrative. B.H. Roberts had some profound doubt he struggled with.

    Most of the guys you mentioned were great because before they were apologists they were philosophers, historians, scholars, and theologians. They made Mormons better by taking them into the questions that troubled their soul and worked through it with their readers. They didn’t just fixate on arguing about Egyptian (well maybe Hugh Nibley did a little bit, but I still like the guy) they contributed to a conversation that existed at a bigger level than Mormonism. I think any Christian could read something from one of the real, truly great scholars of Mormonism and be edified. And any Mormon could read somthing from one of them and walk away with as many new questions as questions they had answered. FAIR on the other hand wages a war in the name of defending the faith. There are some good writers on there and some work is well researched; however, I think its mission misses the point.

    Have you ever thought that maybe in your effort to defend the faith, you are actively ostracizing some of the best inquisitve minds of the faith that could contribute to devloping part of our theology? Doubt is not the antithesis to faith, it is part of faith. To often I see it made a pariah. If you only knew the potential you were missing by waging war with the doubter. Perhaps instead we should consider how valid many of the serious concerns are and ask ourselves if these be true what then. What elements of Mormonism still ring true. What value do we still have to share with the world?

    I can tell you right now the restored church should not contingent on if the Book of Abraham is based on real Egyptian characters, if there is a justification for polygamy or blacks and the priesthood, and may not even be contingent on a historical Book of Mormon. These things whether true or justifiable are not are not the stuff a relgion is based on. No one should have to play a game of 79 impossible things they need to belive before breakfast. It’s unfair and unsustainable. If you can make the logical leap and say that these things aren’t what gives the church truth, then you may be able to find what does and that is what we ought to study, research, improve, explain, and share with love. That effort may be what really makes a difference, not arguing over these impossible to substantiate questions. We need more theologians not more apologists. The day we make that leap is the day that some of the doubters and the ex-mos that you are so sure are the enemy may instead become your greatest allies

    It all comes back to the question…Oh, say what is truth.

  26. It’s funny. I actually lost my testimony from reading Fairmormon. I never consulted any exmormon sources until I was completely out mentally. At first I recognized that based upon available historical information, the most reasonable co conclusion is that the church is not true, but I knew the church was true because of my many powerful spiritual experiences. Church history also exposes one to the unreliability of revelation for both individuals and church leaders. Ultimately my work as a lawyer informed my view that people are capable of holding strong opinions despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This includes extremely intelligent educated people. I don’t judge people who stay in. I know many smart people who do. My faith journey lasted 10 years and I think my opinions during the process were reasonable. So to judge others I would be judging myself. I also don’t think a just God could could judge me for my conclusion. Exmormons and believing Mormons can often question the intelligence and motives of people who reach different conclusions. I think those who do this are wrong. I don’t think you are stupid or evil, but I do think you are extremely incapable of recognizing your bias. Your views cause unnecessary division and pain for many people who don’t recognize that you are just a particularly vocal example of a person completely incapable of the least degree of objectivity.

  27. I can’t believe you left out the most important paragraph! It’s the one that goes between the last and second-to-last paragraphs:

    “Nevertheless, Jim knew that both his eternal salvation and his eventual godhood was at stake, so he dared not exchange his birthright for a mess of pottage. He set his prejudices aside and, with an open mind, went to FAIRmormon in search of any rebuttals to the troubling issues he’d read about in the CES Letter. He devoured the material there, spending many hours over many days learning as many faithful responses to the issues as he possibly could. But alas, his heart slowly sunk even further than where it had been before when, time after time, even the believing apologists verified that the raw facts laid out in the CES letter were 100% true.”

    • That’s a pretty stupid paragraph, especially this part: “even the believing apologists verified that the raw facts laid out in the CES letter were 100% true.”

          • How about we start with the Vernal Holley maps and work our way on from there?

            Seriously dude, even by the mind-meltingly stupid standards of the Mormon Discussions board, you should be able to see how that comment of yours was dumb af.

          • Also, keep in mind that this question of yours is now moving the goalposts.

            In your allegory, you initially claim that “even the believing apologists verified that the raw facts laid out in the CES letter were 100% true.”

            This is, of course, patently false. FairMormon has overtly stated that it finds only 16% of the CES Letter to be factual (as in it correctly retells historical facts). The rest is 40% spin, 33% errors, and 11% outright falsehoods.


            So no, the apologist most certainly have not “verified that the raw facts laid out in the CES letter were 100% true.” As FairMormon makes clear, “Often during apologetics, apologists are simply concerned about the interpretation of the facts. Naturally, the reality goes undisuputed but what the reality means can be reinterpreted through careful thought. At other times, there are facts that are disputed and not their interpretations. The author seems to think that we acquiesce to both for the majority of his claims. We don’t. We disagree on almost every point in one or both.”


            Now you’re asking me to state which “raw facts laid out in the CES Letter are not 100% true”. But that’s a different question than whether apologists agree that the “raw facts” laid out in the CES Letter [are] 100% true.” Whether the CES Letter is 100% factually true or not isn’t the claim you originally made, which is that apologists agree it is 100% factually true.

            Seriously dude, just admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about, are peddling a stupid and false claim about “apologists,” and come up with a better allegory.

            Or, kindly go back to that hell-hole you call Mormon Discussions and refrain from commenting on my blog.

  28. I am a 5th generation Mormon and nearly 80 years. I was semi-active until I became fully active at the age of 19, while in that Army. I finished that went on a mission, went to BYU and then to law school in Canada ( I was born there and still live there). I married, had four kids, two of which are active an two semi-active. My wife died young, bit still in the faith. I am still active and teaching Sunday School, but I generally nap through Sacrament meetings.

    There have been good times and bad times. My faith has been tried. The bottom line is that I have had many witnesses of the spirit and seen miracles. The witnesses of the spirit is what holds it all together.

    When I reconnected a few years back with a fellow who joined the church a teen and found that he outranked my by a great deal, it was wonderful.

    In my experience those who leave, over details or hurt feelings, are the losers. They denied the spirit to fulfill because it failed to confirm a badly skewed “need” in their life.

  29. Why did you link to this website?

    Did you forget that there was a paywall? Who, among your readers would pay $43 for access for 24 hours? or $172 for 30-day access. I am baffled. Perhaps you have access because you are an academic. I can see this as an oversight. I am not accusing you of mal-intent. Just something to think about before you “link” to your source. Make sure your readership can actually access it. Or, maybe I am not your intended audience.

    Did you expect people to just blow by your link and not bother to read it?

    Maybe as an ex-mormon I am just too lazy to read the sources…. oh wait I haven’t heard that one before 😛

    BTW: Another comment above called exmo reddit a “tire fire.” I tend to agree. I may participate at times, but many posts are irrelevant to my personal experience. I also dislike John D. (look we have common ground). I personally found the CES letter boring. I may have read two pages and stopped. It sucked. Sam Young likewise makes me uncomfortable.

  30. I can only wish the outcome of a faith transition was as pretty as you describe. Your satire is on point for some ex-mormon experiences. Some couples/families successfully leave the church together as this post implies.

    Other exmo experiences include: divorce (and associated loss of children), disownment, loss of employment, loss of connection/community, depression. Leaving the church is not easy for many. That is why I think your post is illiciting much raw emotion.

    Just remember, for every member on ex-mo reddit, there is likely at least another active member somewhere gossiping about those crazy lost ex-mos drinking coffee and alcohol. Why??? people like to talk about common foes. Republican/Democrat. Army/Navy. Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/exmo. Ketchup/fry sauce. In-group/out-group.

    BTW, as an exmo, I dislike most of the “big name” exmos: John D, Sam Y, Jeremy R, NNN, even Bill Reel is starting to grate on me. I hate extreme. And those faces do not represent me.

    Using exmo Reddit to generalize exmos would be like saying the folks in DEZNAT are the voice of mainstream Saints. Its not accurate or fair. I believe most members are moderate and tolerant. I believe most exmos just want to leave the church and get on with their life.

    Slight tangent: I would love to see the actual active/inactive stats from the church.

  31. This is absolute genius. I’ve found that people who just aren’t Mormon anymore don’t care or are neutral to the church generally. But anyone who identifies as “Ex-Mormon” has a personal ideological drive to try and destroy the church in order to justify their current choices and behaviors, which fit your post very well.

  32. This article is absolutely hilarious and completely spot on. And the comment thread is an actual repeat of the article, further validating the narrative laid out. The critical commenters stand in a hall of mirrors, and they can’t see their own reflection.

  33. I read the CES letter awhile back. It was hard to get through, not because of any concern over my faith being tried, but because it quickly became apparent that the author was hard to take seriously, so I was less than enthusiastic about reading through it to the end. If I knew nothing at all about the church, I would know upon reading it that the CES letter as a source of information on the church should be read with a considerable grain of salt. The tone is wrong. It sounds like a diatribe. At times it’s snarky. It doesn’t work as an intellectual argument, because the bitterness shows through, and that calls into question the impartiality of the author, which calls into question his credibility. Perhaps someone else could have written a letter that would actually have legitimate impact. This wasn’t it.


Leave a Comment