Introduction

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:

  1. Morally weak (i.e., are sinning)
  2. Followers of Satan (explicitly or unawares)
  3. Prone to taking offense
  4. Too lazy to maintain their spirituality
  5. 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)

The Scriptural Precedent

As suggested by the LDS scriptural canon, Individuals who leave the LDS Church…

were better off not ever having known God or Jesus

12 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

2 Nephi 31:12

will be viewed worse than the Lamanites

23 And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.

Alma 9:23

lost light and truth through disobedience

37 Light and truth forsake that evil one.

38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (emphasis added)

40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:37–40

are servants of sin and children of disobedience

Most of those who leave the LDS Church over truth-claim issues are at least implying the possibility that Joseph Smith was being deceitful about his translation abilities (e.g., with the Book of Abraham) and that the manner in which he implemented polygamy is ethically problematic—for example, lying about polygamy publicly, performing duplicate ceremonies to hide first sealings from his wife, proposing to a seven month pregnant newlywed woman, and marrying a 14 year old who was reluctant to do so (see five key facts for credible references). Doctrine and Covenants 121 suggests these individuals are the “servants of sin” and “children of disobedience” themselves:

11 And they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun;

12 And also that God hath set his hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they may not understand his marvelous workings; that he may prove them also and take them in their own craftiness;

13 Also because their hearts are corrupted, and the things which they are willing to bring upon others, and love to have others suffer, may come upon themselves to the very uttermost;

14 That they may be disappointed also, and their hopes may be cut off;

15 And not many years hence, that they and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall.

16 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.

17 But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. (emphasis added)

may not have forgiveness of sins here or in the world to come

Many men who leave the LDS Church do so after receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood:

40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:40–41

may be fools or traitors

Doctrine and Covenants 122 (verses 1–3) emphasizes that those who express contempt or ridicule Joseph Smith are fools and traitors:

1 The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; (emphasis added)

2 While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.

3 And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors. (emphasis added)

Positive or neutral statements about those who leave

I am only aware of one positive or neutral statement about members who leave the Church.

One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.

Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.

In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.

Dieter Uchtdorf. General Conference, Oct, 2013. Come, Join with Us

Negative statements about those who leave

Individuals who leave the LDS Church…

have been listening to the promptings of Satan

One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.

Glenn L. Pace, April General Conference 1989

become servants of Satan

Daniel Tyler recalled: “Soon after the Prophet’s arrival in Commerce (afterwards Nauvoo) from Missouri prison, Brother Isaac Behunin and myself made him a visit at his residence. His persecutions were the topic of conversation. He repeated many false, inconsistent and contradictory statements made by apostates, frightened members of the Church and outsiders. He also told how most of the officials who would fain have taken his life, when he was arrested, turned in his favor on forming his acquaintance. He laid the burden of the blame on false brethren. …

“When the Prophet had ended telling how he had been treated, Brother Behunin remarked: ‘If I should leave this Church I would not do as those men have done: I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it.’

“The great Seer immediately replied: ‘Brother Behunin, you don’t know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.’”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy

become darkened and will be burned

There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy

did not know the truth or live in tune with the Spirit

Above all, the Church affirms that its members should seek personal revelation to know the truth and live in tune with the spirit of God. Those who have not done this may drop by the wayside when their faith is challenged or when difficulties arise.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism - Apostate

will feel guilt and bitterness

Apostates sometimes become enemies of the Church. Leaving the Church, which claims to be God’s official church, containing the fulness of the gospel, often results in feelings of guilt. While many return, others develop a need to defend their actions, “disprove” the Church, or become hostile enemies. The fruits of apostasy are generally bitter.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism - Apostate

left because they transgressed

It was said here this morning that no person ever apostatized, without actual transgression. Omission of duty leads to commission.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

left because they get into darkness

People do, however, leave this Church, but they leave it because they get into darkness…

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

left because they listen to the enemy, listen to wisdom of man, and become confused

Men begin to apostatize by taking to themselves strength, by hearkening to the whisperings of the enemy who leads them astray little by little, until they gather to themselves that which they call the wisdom of man; then they begin to depart from God, and their minds become confused.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

will experience darkness and unhappiness

They experience darkness, ignorance, doubt, pain, sorrow, grief, mourning, unhappiness; no person to condole [lament] within the hour of trouble, no arm to lean upon in the day of calamity, no eye to pity when they are forlorn and cast down; and I comprehend it by saying death, hell and the grave. This is what they will get in exchange for their apostasy…”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

will become grayhaired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil

I feel to bless this people, and they are a God-blessed people. Look at them, and see the difference from their condition a few years ago! Brethren who have been on missions, can you see any difference in this people from the time you went away until your return? [Voices: “Yes.“] You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become grayhaired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil.

Brigham Young, JOD, vol 5, pg 332

become darkened in their minds like a drunk

You have known men who, while in the Church, were active, quick and full of intelligence; but after they have left the Church, they have become contracted in their understandings, they have become darkened in their minds and everything has become a mystery to them, and in regard to the things of God… This is precisely the position of those who leave this Church; they go into the dark, they are not able to judge, conceive or comprehend things as they are. They are like the drunken man…

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

go into darkness like a blind person

Let a man or woman who has received much of the power of God, visions and revelations, turn away from the holy commandments of the Lord, and it seems that their senses are taken from them, their understanding and judgment in righteousness are taken away, they go into darkness, and become like a blind person who gropes by the wall.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

will go to final destruction

Whenever there is a disposition manifested in any of the members of this Church to question the right of the President of the whole Church to direct in all things, you see manifested evidences of apostasy—of a spirit which, if encouraged, will lead to a separation from the Church and to final destruction…

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

make friends with the wicked and are Anti-Christ

What is proved by people’s leaving us, before the heavens, before the angels, and all the Prophets and holy men who ever lived upon the earth? You will see every man and woman, when they once consent to leave here, I don’t care what name they are known by, whether Morrisites, Gladden Bishopites, Josephites, or any other ite, they make friends with the wicked—with those who blaspheme the holy name we have been commemorating here this afternoon, and they are full of malice and evil. Whenever any person wants to leave here, the thread is broken that bound him to the truth, and he seeks the society of the wicked; and it proves to everybody who has the light of truth within them, that this is the kingdom of God, and that those who leave are of Anti-Christ.

Brigham Young, JOD vol 10, pg 297

may have been deceived by false prophets

Some members are deceived by false prophets. [tells account of Hiram Page]

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

Those who had the Gospel in the former dispensations, and were made partakers of its spirit, its knowledge, and its powers, and then turned away, and became the enemies of God, and of his saints, the malicious and wilful opposers of that which they knew to be true, have no forgiveness in this world, neither in the spirit world, which is the world next to come.

Such apostates seek, in all dispensations, to bring destruction on the innocent and to shed innocent blood, or consent thereto. For such, I again repeat, I know no forgiveness.

Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol 1, pg. 11

began to stray because of trifling affairs

What is that which turns people away from this Church? Very trifling affairs are generally the commencement of their divergence from the right path. If we follow a compass, the needle of which does not point correctly, a very slight deviation in the beginning will lead us, when we have traveled some distance, far to one side of the true point for which we are aiming.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

may have questioned whether the Lord really dictated it

When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, “Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?” you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

are deceived because of their pride

Some members are deceived because of their pride. The following story illustrates how pride led Thomas B. Marsh, who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and his wife, Elizabeth, into apostasy. …What can we learn from this story? How have you seen pride lead people into deception and apostasy?

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

Thomas B. Marsh did not actually leave for such trivial reasons (see here and here)

are deceived because they are critical of leaders’ imperfections

Some members are deceived because they become critical of Church leaders’ imperfections. The following story illustrates how Simonds Ryder was deceived in this way. …What can we learn from this story? How does being critical of our Church leaders make us more susceptible to deception?”

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

One of the first steps to apostasy is to find fault with your Bishop; and when that is done, unless repented of a second step is soon taken, and by and by the person is cut off from the Church, and that is the end of it. Will you allow yourselves to find fault with your Bishop?

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young Chapter 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy

were offended

Being offended Some Church members become offended by the actions of other members and allow an offense to fester until they are led into apostasy. …How do we today allow ourselves to be offended by others? How can being offended lead to apostasy? How can we overcome feelings of being offended?

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

rationalize disobedience

Rationalizing is excusing or defending unacceptable behavior. It is looking for a way to ease our consciences for doing something we know is wrong. How is rationalization a form of deception? How do we sometimes try to rationalize our behavior? Why is this dangerous?

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

are deceived by the false teachings of the world

What are some of the false teachings of the world that can deceive members and lead them into apostasy? (Examples could include the false ideas that the commandments of God are too restrictive, that immorality is acceptable, and that material possessions are more important than spiritual things.)

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”

may have left because they had unrepented sin

Apostasy frequently results when a person commits serious sin but does not repent. To silence his conscience or justify his sinful actions, the individual moves away from the truth, looking for imperfections in others or questioning Church doctrine with which he no longer agrees.

Avoiding Personal Apostasy Ensign, June 2009, By Elder Claudio D. Zivic

may have left because a leader did not treat them well and they become offended

Some individuals begin to think the Church is not true when they feel that a leader did not treat them well. They become offended and, without considering what they are losing, they stray from the Church.

Avoiding Personal Apostasy Ensign, June 2009, By Elder Claudio D. Zivic

may have left because of faultfinding

Conflicts between Church members can also lead to apostasy. Faultfinding can be another source of personal apostasy. When we look for faults in others or begin to think we could make better decisions than our leaders, we should remember the experience of Oliver Cowdery, the second elder of the Church…

Avoiding Personal Apostasy Ensign, June 2009, By Elder Claudio D. Zivic

have become entangled in the mists of darkness

I testify that we can avoid the mists of darkness that lead to personal apostasy by repenting of our sins, overcoming offense, eliminating faultfinding, and following our Church leaders.”

Avoiding Personal Apostasy Ensign, June 2009, By Elder Claudio D. Zivic

if bitter, have a presence of darkness

Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness. Do not spread disease germs.

Boyd Packer “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect” Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings

may have taken on Satanic premises which are poisonous

Enticing us to adopt the premises of Babylon is a subtle strategy Satan uses to sow tares. Individuals who take the premises of Babylon as their fundamental basis for solving the divergent problems of life, of business, or of everyday activity are tares. Their logic may be consistent, but at the root, the solutions are based on premises that Satan has provided. Though they may resemble wheat in the early years, their genetic code—their core premises for growth—yields a poisonous outcome.

Dennis Tolley, May 13, 2003 BYU Devotional

trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin

Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin.

Brad Wilcox, July 12, 2011 BYU Devotional

were not righteous (implied)

Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith.

Bruce R. McConkie, quoted by many others and in many Church manuals

had an immature testimony and shallow committment to Jesus Christ (implied)

More than at any time in our history, your students also need to be blessed by learning doctrinal or historical context and context by study and faith accompanied by pure testimony so they can experience a mature and lasting conversion to the gospel and a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ. Mature and lasting conversion means they will ‘stay in the boat and hold on’ throughout their entire lives.

M. Russell Ballard. The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century

engage in the highest form of larceny if they cause others to lose testimony

And I pray for those who deal in the highest form of larceny—that of stripping people of their precious testimonies. Such action, if continued, will lead only to the futility and emptiness of the dream of a night vision. (See 2 Ne. 27:3; Acts 5:33–39.)

Carlos Asay, October General Conference, 1981

should be shunned if they tear down faith

Avoid those who would tear down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like cancer and eat away the Spirit.

Carlos Asay, October General Conference, 1981

should be shunned if they associate with subcultures

[potentially implied] Drugs, drink, pornographic materials, and subculture associations are also escape routes. …Shun those who would build themselves by destroying others.

“While They Are Waiting,” Marvin J. Ashton, General Conference, April 1988.

generally left for trivial reasons

Soon after the Church was organized, some of the members began to apostatize, or leave the Church. They quit attending Church meetings, opposed the Prophet, and persecuted the Saints. People apostatized for various reasons. For example, one man left the Church because his horse died while he was traveling to join the Saints in Missouri. Another man apostatized after he saw Joseph Smith playing with children. He thought a prophet should be too serious to play with children. One man saw that his name was misspelled on a Church document and thought that meant Joseph Smith was not inspired by God. Other people left the Church because they did not receive the help they expected with their financial problems. Some members left the Church because they could not forgive other members for actions that had offended them. After leaving the Church, these offended people often became the Church’s worst enemies.

Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, Lesson 21

should not be listened to if they attempt to proselytize

A few of you may have run into some who have ceased to hold fast to the iron rod, wandered off the straight and narrow path, and have become lost. They started sometimes with online tours of the territory of the faithless. This indiscretion is often accompanied by failing to earnestly study the Book of Mormon every day and by the companion problem of gradually becoming lax in keeping other commandments. This sometimes leads to listening to and then hearkening to those who mock the church, its leaders or its history. The faithless often promote themselves as the wise who can rescue the rest of us from our naiveté. One does not need to listen to assertive apostates for long to see the parallels between them and the ‘Korihors’ ‘Nehors’ and ‘Sherems’ of the book of Mormon. We should disconnect immediately and completely from listening to the proselytizing efforts of those who have lost their faith and instead reconnect promptly with the holy spirit. The adversary sees spiritual apathy and halfhearted obedience as opportunities to encircle us with his chains and bind us—and he hopes to destroy us. We escape his chains as we voluntarily choose to bind ourselves instead to God…

From L. Whitney Clayton’s commencement speech at BYU, quote from here

may cause members to need to cease relationship, support, and tolerance

The challenge we may confront is remaining loyal to the Savior and His Church in the face of parents, in-laws, brothers or sisters, or even our children whose conduct, beliefs, or choices make it impossible to support both Him and them. …the Lord reminds us, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”So although familial love continues, relationships may be interrupted and, according to the circumstances, even support or tolerance at times suspended for the sake of our higher love.

D. Todd Christofferson, Finding Your Life, Ensign March, 2016.

may require adjustments to avoid endorsing behavior

QUESTION: At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior? If the son says, “Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays? How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?”

ANSWER - ELDER OAKS:…I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, “Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.” Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. …”Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”

“Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: ‘Same-Gender Attraction,’” Newsroom, 2 September 2006

generally left for one of five reasons

The most frequent causes of apostasy are failure to maintain strict standards of morality, taking personal offense (real or perceived), marrying someone who is of another faith or who is irreligious, neglecting to pray and maintain spirituality, or misunderstanding of the teachings of the Church.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism - Apostate

are not loved by the Lord, Angels, or Saints and are despised by Satan

I heard of one man who came here twenty years ago, who stayed a few years and got more property than he ever had before, then sold it, and went to California, feeling and believing that he had worked long enough for the Lord, and that henceforth he would work for himself. The last I heard of him he was in poverty, distress, and disgrace. Loved of the Lord? No; if the Lord did not hate him, he did not love him. Angels did not love him, Saints did not love him, and the devil despised him, as he does all apostates.

Brigham Young, Remarks delivered in the Bowery, JOD vol 12

should clear out or risk being knifed

Brigham Young recounted a dream where apostates claimed to be Mormon, and then to have been Mormon. Young recounted his feelings in his dream, “I felt ashamed of them, for they were in my eyes a disgrace to ‘mormonism.’” Young then dreams that two ruffians were jumping into bed with one of Young’s wives and children [sexual license may be implied?] and being supported in this by the apostates. In the dream, Young then recounts cutting the throats of two ruffians (one “ear to ear”) and then threatened others with the same fate. Finally, Young exclaims to the crowd:

I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, “go it, go it.“] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work.

Brigham Young, JOD vol 1, pg 83

are despicable, are traitors, are not respected, have little honesty, and betrayed their friends

If there is a despicable character on the face of the earth, it is an apostate from this Church. He is a traitor who has deceived his best friends, betrayed his trust, and forfeited every principle of honor that God placed within him. They may think they are respected, but they are not. They are disgraced in their own eyes. There is not much honesty within them; they have forfeited their heaven, sold their birthright, and betrayed their friends.

Brigham Young, Remarks delivered in the Bowery, JOD vol 12

will never reach the promised land (implied)

We board the Good Ship Zion and sail with her wher­ev­er she goes until she comes into that mil­len­ni­al port. We stay in the boat, through squalls and stills, through storms and sun­burn, because that is the only way to the promised land.

Jeffrey R. Holland, April General Conference 2004

have no place to go and will incur an unforseen impact (implied)

If you choose to become inac­tive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The deci­sion to ‘walk no more’ with Church mem­bers and the Lord’s cho­sen lead­ers will have a long-term impact that can­not always be seen right now.

M. Russell Ballard, October General Conference 2016

experience negative long-term consequences (implied)

they leave the Old Ship Zion—they fall away; they apostatize. Tragically, they often experience short-term and eventually long-term unintended consequences, not only for themselves but also for their families.

M Russell Ballard, October General Conference 2014

may be put out of existence (implied)

With all my heart I implore those who are walking on the fringes of our faith to seek the safety of the center. This can be done best by counseling with your leaders and remaining within the fellowshipping circle of the Saints, and receiving nourishment from the good word of God. Do not permit faithless people to turn you out of the right way or to put you out of existence. (See Moro. 6.)

Carlos Asay, October General Conference, 1981

should fear for their safety (implied)

Keep your covenants and you will be safe. Break them and you will not.

Boyd K. Packer, October General Conference 1990

will die spiritually (implied)

Like the dead sequoia, these Church members once received their spiritual nourishment from the well of living water offered by Jesus Christ, but having been disconnected for one reason or another from that source, their spirit was dulled, and they eventually died spiritually.

M. Russell Ballard

had a patty-cake, taffy-pull conviction (implied)

I am so furious with people who leave this church. I don’t know whether furious is a good apostolic word or not. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pulled experience is that? As if, as if none of this ever mattered; as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered; as if this is all just supposed to be [near yelling] just exactly the way I want it? And answered every one of my questions – and pursue this and occupy that – and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-day Saint. Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that.

Jeffrey R. Holland. Fireside at Tempe Arizona Stake Center, 2707 South College Avenue, April 26, 2016. (audio [31:37])

may not have eternal objectives and hence shouldn’t be associations (implied)

We should associate with those who, like us, are planning not for temporary convenience, shallow goals, or narrow ambition—but rather with those who value the things that matter most, even eternal objectives.

“Be Thou an Example,” Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, General Conference, April 2005.

are not honest or sincere (implied)

For those who are honest and sincere in their search, it is not difficult to find out whether there has been a universal apostasy, and if so, where the truth is today.

Mormon Doctrine (Apostasy)

As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Ezra T. Benson, ch. 11

may not have learned to listen to the Holy Ghost

“I know that when we pray for Erik, Heavenly Father does answer our prayers—every time. The problem is that Erik may not be listening right now. Erik gets to choose whether he listens to the Holy Ghost, just like you choose whether to listen to Mama about your backpack…”

They all bowed their heads while Liv said the prayer. She prayed that Erik would learn to listen to the Holy Ghost. While Liv was praying, Kari felt peaceful and warm. She knew that Heavenly Father was hearing their prayers.

Don’t Forget to Pray for Erik. Jan 2017 Friend.

should not be supported, affiliated with, or agreed with (implied)

Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Seventh temple recommend question

Examples of how people are treated who leave the Church

Directly or implied, these indicate how members view leaving the Church or those who have left the Church.

According to some believing members, individuals who leave the LDS Church…

were better off dying or adulterating than losing their faith

To say, as a parent, “I won’t force my kids to go to church. I’ll let them decide on their own.” sounds so enlightened. But its the most dangerous thing a parent could say. It would be safer for you to let your children play on the highway in rush hour traffic than to let them decide whether or not they wanted to go to church. One of those options carries temporary consequences (if you let your child play on the highway in rush hour traffic they will die); and the other carries potential eternal consequences.

I won’t force my kids to go to church

RS Pres was giving a lesson about trials a few weeks ago and I was zoning out until I heard: “…or losing a loved one to disease, a fatal accident, or disbelief.”

I had a seminary teacher whose son left the church and I clearly remember her saying, “It would be better if he had died on his mission back when he was still faithful.” And she wonders why she’s not allowed to visit her grandchildren.

15 years ago my husband was in a terrible atv accident suffered a traumatic brain injury wasn’t supposed to survive. Three years later we left the church his dad told him he would have rather have had him die in the accident then leave the church…Sick still makes me cringe.

From this discussion

I wrote an email to my parents last week letting them know I no longer believed in the church. A couple email exchanges later, my dad calls me, and I can tell he’s very distraught. He tells me if someone gave him the choice that in 2 weeks his son could either die faithful in the church or go apostate, he’s not sure what he would choose.

Me: Dad, you would rather me be dead right now? Dad: Well, I didn’t really say it that way. Me: Dad seriously? I’m still alive and you can talk to me! But you would rather me be dead? Dad: That’s not what I said.

Well THANK YOU LDS CHURCH for convincing my parents that it would be better if I had died. Sounds like the true church of Jesus Christ to me.

From here

Family friend died at age 19 in a car accident…His parents said it was “for the best” because he was making “bad choices” and wouldn’t have gone on a mission. The whole family of 14 kids and two parents are giving that line.

From here

… We were discussing Job, and his whole story about how God gave Satan permission to take away everything he has. Our teacher told us how his wife lost faith in God, and then she said “I don’t know what would be worse: having a spouse die faithful or live and lose their faith.” This basically is telling all members with exmo spouses that their spouses would be better off dead. …

From here

Then she told me she wished I had had an affair rather than falling away from the church. I was floored. We both love and care for one another, but this is not something I think she will ever get over.

From here

will become sons & daughters of perdition

I’m very upset about the flood of apostasy & unbelief that is sweeping through the Church. Most families, along with my own, have been affected by it. And it’s not the fault of the Brethren or the Church, it’s the fault of those apostates who are actively evangelizing their Satanic mixture of the philosophies of men and scripture. It’s also the fault of their disciples who suffer themselves to fall under the spell of these contemporary false prophets. The choice to embrace unbelief is weak and faithless, while the choice to proselyte for the adversary is a quintessential act of cowardice. It takes no courage and is the most evil activity a son or daughter of God can engage in. They are murdering the eternal lives of those they “convert”; and if these apostates do not repent, they will become sons & daughters of perdition.

Posted to the latterdaysaints subreddit here

are mourned as if they had died

When I told her I no longer believe in the truth offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my mother reacted by telling me she mourned me as if I had died.

Paul Walker. Ex-Actly as I Thought: Failure and the Unbecoming Mormon Man

My parents had me and my 88 year old grandfather over for dinner. My parents are still TBM’s but don’t force it on me at all. After we ate my grandfather had this really sad look on his face when he was looked at me. I finally asked him what was wrong and he started to cry almost hysterically. He said that he worries about me every day because I won’t be able to join the rest of the family in the celestial kingdom. This went on for almost 10 minutes before he finally calmed down. I wanted to tell him why I don’t believe in the church but that would just upset him even more. For the most part, I’ve just been passive about my beliefs with my family but this really bothered me for some reason. I’m not really sure what to do here because he wasn’t trying to get me to become a believer, nor have my parents over the years. They just have genuine concern about my well-being. I’m not sure how to respond to this really.

From here

Similar in flavor:

My faith transition has been a very long, slow process (13+months). I’m still closeted to most everyone, but DW knows that I no longer accept the church’s truth claims. Today she asked me why I didn’t say amen after she said a prayer this morning. I tried to very kindly and no[n] confrontationally share, “I’m not sure I believe in Jesus Christ anymore…”. She went away crying. A few minutes later she told me, “being raped by Ted Bundy would be easier than this”. Any suggestions on how to best navigate this?

From here

should not receive any inheritance

A video created by LDS Philanthropies suggested that it is appropriate to deny inheritance to children who leave the Church:

For them to inherit my estate they will have to become what I’m trying to become… If they exercise their agency contrary to my beliefs then the option is that entire inheritance can go to the church.

Also discussed here.

may be disowned

I posted a few times about leaving the Mormon church. My dad emailed me today. Im disowned. My phone number, email, and my social networking sites. I’m not supposed to try to contact any family unless I repent and return to the church. I’m an adult. I’m a veteran. And losing my family hurts. Maybe I should go for a commission.

From here (note that the father is Stake President)

G-pa and I are SUPER CLOSE. He and my G-ma raised my siblings and I since I was 9 months old. I COMPLETELY see him as my Dad in every way that counts. We call each other several times a day and I tell him EVERYTHING!!!

Tonight I told him that I went to my husbands church (he is attending an Orthodox Christian Church). He said “Be careful or else he will convert you.” I responded by saying “Maybe.”

He immediately got mad and told me he would disown me and will have nothing to do with me if I leave the church. He continued by saying I won’t go to heaven and I won’t be with the family.

…So it looks like I will be losing one of the top people I never want to be without.

From here

will never find true happiness

When i finally told my parents they had never been more dissapointed. my father told me i broke my mothers heart. in the morning before school we would read scriptures and my parents (my own father!!) would just burst out crying and attempt to keep reading. the amount of guilt and shame i had to go through. my parents made me see the bishop and the stake president! when i spoke to the stake president he talked to me about what i hoped to accomplish and basically told me i would never be truly content and would incredibly regret it later if i did not go. I was forced to go to church every sunday and if i didnt my parents would kick me out of the house. and every single sunday at some point in the 3 hours someone will tell me the bishop wanted to see me. then i would be constantly berated by the bishop on what i should do to meet a goal to go on a mission. I was an incredibly quiet and frail person then and would simply say things like “maybe” or “i dont know ill see” this went on for probably 8 months before i got a job that required me to work on sundays so i had an excuse not to go. even after i stopped going the missionaries would make an effort to see me 1-3 times a week! one sister missionary went so far as to point to an old picture of me and say that she saw true happiness in that picture but no longer sees that in my eyes. she said that she knows that i will never achieve true happiness. after this i just about lost it, i didnt really say much, i dont remember the specifics but im sure i was very passive aggressive. after they said the closing prayer i said “thanks” and went straight to my room without dismissing or shaking hands.

From here

may be shunned to some degree

We were ultra TBM-All of us were presidents (primary, ym etc..) Then our family of 4 left. My best friend was our bishops wife. Our son is besties with one of their sons, our daughter is besties with one of the older sons. Our whole family left the church less than a year ago.

I haven’t heard from my best friend in months (bishops wife). She stopped calling. Her kids no longer call our kids. The other day our son and daughter stopped by to say hi, something they used to do ALL THE TIME. They wouldn’t even turn to say hi. A family room full of people and these jerks wouldn’t even turn to say hi. My sweet 17 year old daughter who has this sweet tender heart was SHUNNED. I know I will be angry when I get past being hurt. I hate that my kids are going through this. It just kills me. Here is the irony, we have never removed our names, been out for a few months and haven’t said a negative word to anyone.

From here

Being never-mo in “Happy” Valley, I try to get along with a live-and-let live policy. It’s just not possible with the level of indoc among TBM’s. My kid came home from school a little distraught yesterday. I asked “hey kiddo, what’s the problem?” “Oh, the kids at school are teasing me.” “About what? What’d they say?” “This girl in my class said “Everybody who goes to church, raise your hand!” Lots of people did, except me and X and X. They laughed at us and then at recess they were running away from us and said “We’re Mormon and you’re NOT!” and “Don’t play with them, they don’t go to church!” I asked if the teacher was in the room when this happened and was told no, the girl did it after the teacher left for a minute.

From here

are thought to be worse to work with than adulterers

I have heard some very experienced and capable church leaders say that they would rather work with ten adulterers than one angry apostate.

From here

punishment will be worse than Hitler’s

I was essentially closeted at the time but this was one of the last days I would attend seminary before deciding I couldn’t play along anymore.

We were talking about the requirements for getting heaven and how people who didn’t have a chance to learn about the gospel in this life would be taught and allowed to accept it in the next life. My teacher had brought up that because we were given our chance on earth we would not be given a chance in the afterlife, and that Hell really only existed for members who denied the existence of god and left the church. He then went on to talk about how even Hitler would eventually be allowed into heaven after being taught the gospel.

As the entire class sat in agreement over the amazing stretches of Christ’s love or something I remember thinking I would be unanimously looked down upon as someone who had commit worse sins than Hitler by my entire community had I come out and stated I no longer believed.

From here

are told terrible things will happen to them

Year 2002, somewhere in Canada. My LDS high school buddies and I had all received our mission calls around the same time. My friend went to the temple and came back scared. He showed me his temple clothes. I went home and googled info on the church. Down the rabbit hole. Testimony lost in a matter of days. I told my parents I had to put my mission call on hold because I had lost my faith. I talked to the bishop, the SP, and even the mission president in the mission I was assigned to soon join. None of it helped, obviously. There are no answers for these questions. And back in 2002 everyone thought I had succumbed to anti-mormon lies (there were no LDS essays yet). I was riding in the car with my dad (former bishop) when he told me he had a revelation that I would be taken from the earth shortly, if I went the route of apostasy. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “Ok…”

From here

When I finally had enough of endless preaching and being told I was not good enough, I told my father that I did not believe anymore. His response was to write me a letter (something I rarely did) and told me that god was going to strike me dumb like he did Korihor. Shit like that from your dad hurts.

From here

Read other stories here.

may be called out for writing about their new understanding

Experience shared here

may be avoided during their faith crisis

Example 1.

Example 2

may have family members’ temple recommends threatened

Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Spent a few hours talking with my 65 yr old mother today and discovered that her Bishop and Stake president had agreed that she should be denied a temple recommend after she told them that even though I (her 44 year old son) had left the church, she still wanted to have a close relationship with me.

At the time I announced to my family that I no longer believed, my parents were serving as temple ordinance workers with my mother acting as a shift leader. They have been faithful members their entire lives, and continue to believe, but neither one was willing to commit to the Bishop’s demands of breaking off contact with “their apostate son”. After consulting with the Stake president, he pulled both of their recommends.

From here

may be working for Satan

Religion professor at BYU I claimed in class today that his exmo sibling is “working for Satan” because this sibling tries to engage in rational discussions about the veracity of the church

From here

are literally possessed by Satan and may try to cast him out

When we told my wife’s family that we were leaving the Mormon church, my father-in-law raised his arm to the square and used his … priesthood to cast Satan out of me … Didn’t work…

From here

should not raise their child, preferring the child to die

I expected to be shot. I asked the Lord, in silent prayer to let my only child go with me if I should be killed, as my husband had entirely lost his faith in the Gospel.

Presendia Lathrop Huntington Buell Smith Kimball as quoted in Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier

Other resources