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4 Reasons Why Disaffected Mormons Become Atheists…at Wheat & Tares

January 22, 2014

Atheist Moroni

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the implications of Mormons continuing to use the 15-million church statistic in every-day use. That there are many disaffected Mormons on the church records is itself a topic worth many points, but recently, someone asked why so many disaffected Mormons become atheists rather than simply removing the Book of Mormon from their rotation and sticking to the Bible as Christians.

This is a question I see a lot, so I wanted to discuss why I think the transition from Mormonism to traditional Christianity isn’t as seamless as many might think. At Wheat & Tares, I have proposed 4 reasons why disaffected Morm0ns become atheists. My four reasons were:

  1. Mormons are raised to think traditional Christianity got things wrong
  2. Mormonism is designed to be an improvement over traditional Christianity
  3. The same tools that can deconstruct Mormonism are effective for other Christian theologies
  4. Ultimately, Mormonism is distinct from traditional Christianity.

Already, I have had some commenters on Facebook and elsewhere suggest a few other explanations. One major sentiment I’ve heard several times can be summed up by this comment:

…The church teaches that it is perfect and that your relationship with the church is more important than anything. These things combined result in the church basically replacing god. Belief in the church is substituted for an independent belief in god. When belief in the church goes away there is no independent belief in god there in the first place.

There’s a lot to be said about the sense of betrayal that courses through many disaffected narratives. It’s not just that the church turned out to be different than what was claimed…but that it presented itself so loftily instead. So, a lot of the responses express a sense that once burned, people are incredulous about diving into anything else without checking things very carefully.

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