I’ve been reading an article at Mormon Matters about More Open Mormon History, and it seems to me there is a fundamental idea at play here: if you hear about “true Mormon history,” you’ll lose all hope and faith and then apostasize. OMG!
The author, Mormon Heretic, tries to deflect this claim. He posits that people should learn about true Mormon history upfront and that it won’t lead to more apostasizing — this original assertion is baseless. Instead, those who know more about Mormon history tend to be more active and those who know less are actually less active (but this study that he refers to hasn’t been parsed in the topic).
I offered early on an idea. In my opinion, I guess it’s not so much the history of the church that may hurt some members, but the idea that the church correlates and hides so much early on, and then people find out the true events much later. This shatters everything they once knew, and that, more than the actual nature of the history, is what breaks the faith.
I guess the church would suggest that sometimes, people can’t handle the truth, so it’s better not to share it all. But my idea is…people will already believe crazy things, so why not just present history as it was and then let people go with it?
But now I’m curious…was something history-related the final straw for any of you?
For me, I don’t think so. But then again, I think my nonbelief was of a much different stuff. I can understand that many ex-mormons truly believed, then found something that shattered their trust in the leaders or the church or the history or the doctrine, but I always had a skeptical approach. I never had a problem with recognizing that Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or any prophet or leader was fallible, because I already recognized that. The problem was, because I always recognized they were fallible, I couldn’t really believe in that.
So the prophet is fallible. I’m fallible. So why should I exchange my fallibility for some other guy’s fallibility, especially when what that other guy is saying doesn’t really fit into how I actually experience the world? If I were able to see some kind of evidence of something higher, then that would justify things, but as it is now, the gray nature of the world is poor motivation to believe in something higher. Moral grays and areas of fallibility make sense in a universe that doesn’t have a caring, coordinating deity but they don’t quite make so much sense, no matter the justification, in a worldview that actually posits such a deity.
On the other hand, I guess this allows me to be more moderate about the church. I look at it as a human, social institution. I’m not going to join a group like Mormon Coffee and decry how it’s leading people to hell, because I don’t have heaven and hell as my goal posts. I do have some problem with the political actions the church has taken with gay marriage, but this is, of course, from a social aspect, and not from a theological aspect. I don’t really care about showing the church that God wouldn’t care about gays getting married, because I don’t really care about showing the church anything about God.