LDS scripture, leaders, lesson manuals, and other material published by the Church speak extensively about those who leave the Church and apostasize (leaving the Church is synonymous with apostasy). Collectively, these writings emphasize that those who leave the Church are one or more of the following:
- Morally weak (i.e., are sinning)
- Followers of Satan (explicitly or unawares)
- Prone to taking offense
- Too lazy to maintain their spirituality
- Ignorant and/or misinformed about the teachings of the Church.
Given this characterization of those who leave, it is not surprising that many feel a need to “defend their actions”, “disprove” the Church, or end up becoming hostile enemies: a person who determines that the Church is not true—regardless of how pure or noble their motives, the strength of their character, the level of their spirituality, or how comprehensively they understand the Gospel—cannot leave with their reputation and character intact. If they leave without explanation, then it is assumed that they are deficient in character or understanding—if they attempt to exonerate themselves, then they have a “need to defend their actions” or “disprove the Church” and are considered “bitter”.
While a member might be inclined to believe that the “bitter fruits of apostasy” are the natural consequence of turning from the one true faith, virtually all totalistic groups characterize those who leave in a similar negative light (see additional examples from Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology. In addition, see “The three-fold nature of the LDS Church: corporate, totalistic, and individual-growth” for a longer discussion of the totalistic mindset and how it is manifest in the LDS Church. Also The Shunning Key: Whom Mormons shun and why)