ex-Mormon vs. post-Mormon vs. DAMU

What’s in a name? 😉

Back when I wrote my handy guide to different types of Mormons I claimed that ex-Mormon and post-Mormon are just two words for the same thing. Since then, many people have told me that there’s a real difference between the two, namely that an ex-Mormon is someone who is angry and/or recovering whereas a post-Mormon is someone who has moved on.

That makes a lot of sense as a distinction, and I suppose that’s the idea of this one new forum I found the other day: postmormon.org. I guess if that’s it, I’d qualify more as post-Mormon than ex-Mormon myself. My novel qualifies more as ex-Mormon since the focus is on being Mormon and experiences shortly after leaving the church. (Yay, I don’t have to change the title!) Maybe the sequel should be called post-Mormon…

However, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of people’s choice of labels depends more on which they encountered online first, so people who started out on RfM are more likely to adopt the label “exmo” whereas those who came in through the foyer are more likely to go with DAMU (DisAffected Mormon Underground).

It is becoming increasingly clear that Recovery from Mormonism (the main bulletin board of exmormon.org) has a bad reputation — not only with believing Mormons but within the post-Mormon community — as being full of angry rants, and I think that may be why a number of former Mormons take offense at being called exmos.

It’s unfortunate if this is causing a division of the variety “I don’t believe in the church anymore, but I’m not one of them.” I’m not terribly interested in posting (or even reading) a bunch of angry rants myself, but I think most of us have gone through some anger over this, and can understand what people go through when it sinks in how very much they and their families have sacrificed for something that ultimately they’ve found to be false. So I hesitate to say “Hey, just buck up and stop complaining” or even “Whew! I’m glad I’m not like that!” since who knows if any given “angry apostate” will still be “like that” a year or two from now.

So I guess I’m saying that while I’m interested in building bridges of common interest with the faithful Mormons, I don’t want to do it by trying to draw a line around the “good guys” that includes me and leaves people who aren’t all that far from me out in the cold…

Cross-posted here.

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

16 thoughts on “ex-Mormon vs. post-Mormon vs. DAMU

  1. Carol,
    Thanks for those distinctions. I used to call myself a ‘former mormon’. I thought it was respectful and felt the “ex” title was kind of harsh; it also felt like it still associated me with the church and I didn’t want to be.
    I guess a year ago I would have said I fit into the “post” catagory. Lately, I have felt more “ex” because it seems to be synonymous with “anti”. I don’t feel I am totally “anti”, but watching the grief and mind job my friend is going through has made me really angry and resentful of the institution/corporation/church. But I am blogging soon on this subject, so thanks for the segue!

  2. There is nothing wrong with being angry.

    Jesus was angry about the money changers in the temple. Gandhi was angry about exploitation by colonial powers. Rosa Parks was angry about discrimination. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was angry about the Holocaust. Veronica Guerin was angry about drug dealers. Desmond Tutu was angry about racism.

    Anger can be a powerful motivator for good. The angry people in my examples used their anger to bring about a more inclusive and humane reality.

    The powers that be, of course, want to delegtimize anger so that no one be allowed to identify their dirty little racket at the expense of humanity.

  3. And before I forget it: Lech Walesa and the Polish people were angry about Bolshevism. Look at what their anger did for all of us.

  4. I think the distinction between exmo and postmo, may also come from the culture in the Church. TBM’s often use the term ex-Mormon interchangably with anti-Mormon (as though anyone who actively left the church would also be actively hating it and trying to take it down). But, my entire time within the Church, I never heard a TBM use the term post-Mormon. I think those who created the term post-Mormon were trying to describe themselves in a way that would not carry with in all the connotations that active members have put on the word ex-Mormon.

  5. Hueffenhardt — it’s possible that it’s affected by the way the Mormons use the term exmormon, but I really don’t think I’d heard the term much at all before encountering exmormon.org and RfM. Before that, I probably would have said “apostate” which may have more negative connotations than exmormon…

  6. I understand the human need to categorize and label – but sometimes I feel the labels are so limiting. On top of that, they have different connotations and associations for different people.

    One person might find a label offensive, while another might take pride in the same label. Personally, I wonder why some labels exist – why is it important to label a group as exmormon or anti-mormon. And, for many of us, we are labeled exmormon or anti-mormon, whether or not we consider ourselves that.

    I have found that the vast majority of ex/post/former mormons that I’ve met are not anti individual members of the LDS faith. Typically, they are upset by the system and the hierarchy (for many reasons, some valid, some not so valid), not the rank and file members.

    I’m not sure if other religions have such labels for active and former members. I’ve never really heard of an ex-Catholic. Even post Catholic. Is this phenomenon unique to mormonism?

  7. I think ex-mormon has the same type of negative connotations as ex-wife or ex-husband. Baiscally, someone who no longer likes what they use to love. I guess that is why I prefer former mormon.

  8. I’ve used both the ex and post terms, but I prefer to name myself what I am instead of what I was.

    That being said, I’ll stick with glorious gay man, shamanistic pagan, humanist, or universalist or all the above.

  9. SML, May I call you that crazy Nun from the North, then?

    I agree with Sideon, that we should stick with affirmative labels, and I look forward to the day when I am affiliated with some other movement enough that they’re name defines me.

    Until then, I’ll stick with my passive aggressive responses of “My family is Mormon” or “I was raised Mormon”. People usually get a pretty good idea where I stand from that, and it’s not a negative statement.

  10. Compassionate conservatism is still a good idea. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The electoral college and populous should secure the calculation. Anemic growth is better than stagnation and dare I say it, free fall.

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