Episode 1: Leaving the Church but not Leaving it Alone

In this episode, the panelists discuss the issue of “leaving the Church but not leaving it alone”. Panelists include George, Jim, John, Nyal and Tom. Topics addressed include: dealing with the loss of faith and what to do next, the role of the online community, researching the Church, family relationships, ongoing connection to the Mormon community and the psychology of those who stay and those who leave.

Episode 1

60 comments on “Episode 1: Leaving the Church but not Leaving it Alone”

  1. TRMalthus Reply

    I found the whole discussion intelligent and even-handed with high production values. The discussion about the time it takes to process through the personal history especially salient to me (still trying to figure out how to fill the “void”). Thank you.

  2. TRMalthus Reply

    I found the whole discussion intelligent and even-handed with high production values. The discussion about the time it takes to process through the personal history especially salient to me (still trying to figure out how to fill the “void”). Thank you.

  3. Ozlamanite Reply

    I think this is a great idea and I look forward to more podcasts thanks guys!

  4. Ozlamanite Reply

    I think this is a great idea and I look forward to more podcasts thanks guys!

  5. No One Reply

    I think 6 months is a little on the short side of how long people take to process through the void. I’d say 5 years is more realistic.

  6. No One Reply

    I think 6 months is a little on the short side of how long people take to process through the void. I’d say 5 years is more realistic.

  7. scadoosh Reply

    Overall I really liked the podcast – thanks. One suggestion… it was hard to know who was talking at each point. I also prefer to know the background and position of the talker (exmormon, active mormon, apologist, Hale-Bopp Comet watcher, etc.), and with a panel like this it’s hard to gleam that information.

  8. scadoosh Reply

    Overall I really liked the podcast – thanks. One suggestion… it was hard to know who was talking at each point. I also prefer to know the background and position of the talker (exmormon, active mormon, apologist, Hale-Bopp Comet watcher, etc.), and with a panel like this it’s hard to gleam that information.

  9. John Reply

    No One:
    I agree that 6 months is short. Although some people process it and then leave (which is what I did) and others leave and then process it. I have some really good friends who left on a dime and then kind of worked through it afterwords. The bottom line is you can stay in the Church as long as it is comfortable for you to do so.

  10. John Reply

    No One:
    I agree that 6 months is short. Although some people process it and then leave (which is what I did) and others leave and then process it. I have some really good friends who left on a dime and then kind of worked through it afterwords. The bottom line is you can stay in the Church as long as it is comfortable for you to do so.

  11. John Reply

    scadoosh:

    You are right. We are going to take a few minutes at the beginning of next week’s podcast to introduce ourselves, and from here on out we will briefly do so at the beginning of each cast. You can also see our bios by following the “about the panelists” link in the blue section, above.

  12. John Reply

    scadoosh:

    You are right. We are going to take a few minutes at the beginning of next week’s podcast to introduce ourselves, and from here on out we will briefly do so at the beginning of each cast. You can also see our bios by following the “about the panelists” link in the blue section, above.

  13. Andrew Callahan Reply

    I found the discussion useful, and that it covered some of this topic, but I think the topic of Leaving the Church, but Not Leaving it Alone is a broad topic with many aspects. For example, there are folks who are “active” who physically attend sacrament meeting just to keep peace in the family, but don’t accept callings, don’t believe, don’t pray, etc. Those folks are some who have “Left the Church” mentally and spiritually, but “Cannot Leave it Alone” because of family issues, etc. Further, some TBM folks make the claim that the New Order Mormon crowd has essentially “Left the Church.” It is impossible in a podcast to cover everything, and I think your discussion was a good first effort.

    I’ll plan on listening frequently. I found this through John’s post on PostMo, and would encourage you to post similar announcements throughout both the DAMU and the Bloggernacle.

    Thank you for your effort and work on this podcast and best of luck in the future with this.

  14. Andrew Callahan Reply

    I found the discussion useful, and that it covered some of this topic, but I think the topic of Leaving the Church, but Not Leaving it Alone is a broad topic with many aspects. For example, there are folks who are “active” who physically attend sacrament meeting just to keep peace in the family, but don’t accept callings, don’t believe, don’t pray, etc. Those folks are some who have “Left the Church” mentally and spiritually, but “Cannot Leave it Alone” because of family issues, etc. Further, some TBM folks make the claim that the New Order Mormon crowd has essentially “Left the Church.” It is impossible in a podcast to cover everything, and I think your discussion was a good first effort.

    I’ll plan on listening frequently. I found this through John’s post on PostMo, and would encourage you to post similar announcements throughout both the DAMU and the Bloggernacle.

    Thank you for your effort and work on this podcast and best of luck in the future with this.

  15. John Reply

    Andrew:

    Good point. Two of the panelists, George and Tom still attend Church and are probably very similar to the situation you describe.

  16. John Reply

    Andrew:

    Good point. Two of the panelists, George and Tom still attend Church and are probably very similar to the situation you describe.

  17. Devin Reply

    I’m glad that you are doing this John. It’s been a while since there has been a good podcast that discusses all things Mormon.

  18. Devin Reply

    I’m glad that you are doing this John. It’s been a while since there has been a good podcast that discusses all things Mormon.

  19. badseed Reply

    Nice first offering. Keep up the good work. The issues discussed are largely ignored by the LDS community and need more airtime.

    I am transitioning out of Mormonism but have found the process difficult and sometimes painful as my family is still active and believing. It’s good to hear what others in a similar situation are doing.

    Thanks. I’ll be back for more.

  20. badseed Reply

    Nice first offering. Keep up the good work. The issues discussed are largely ignored by the LDS community and need more airtime.

    I am transitioning out of Mormonism but have found the process difficult and sometimes painful as my family is still active and believing. It’s good to hear what others in a similar situation are doing.

    Thanks. I’ll be back for more.

  21. badseed Reply

    …and 1 comment:

    I’m a guy and while I can easily relate to the all-male panel it might be nice to add a female perspective on these issues as well. A rose amongst thorns as it were…..er…you get the idea.

  22. badseed Reply

    …and 1 comment:

    I’m a guy and while I can easily relate to the all-male panel it might be nice to add a female perspective on these issues as well. A rose amongst thorns as it were…..er…you get the idea.

  23. Tom Reply

    Badseed,

    Thanks for the comment, so let me address your suggestion to having some female participation. We have already discussed this issue and I am very confident that you will be hearing from some females in the near future on the podcast.

    Thanks for listening and keep the comments and suggestions coming.
    -Tom

  24. Tom Reply

    Badseed,

    Thanks for the comment, so let me address your suggestion to having some female participation. We have already discussed this issue and I am very confident that you will be hearing from some females in the near future on the podcast.

    Thanks for listening and keep the comments and suggestions coming.
    -Tom

  25. Bill Reply

    Great dialogue. I look forward to listening to more of your podcasts. Just need the introductions as you already mentioned. Keep up the good work!

  26. Bill Reply

    Great dialogue. I look forward to listening to more of your podcasts. Just need the introductions as you already mentioned. Keep up the good work!

  27. Andrew S. Reply

    Interesting first podcast (I’m kinda late here, since you guys’ve obviously gotten two more out and are working on the fourth). Can’t say I can afford to be doing so much listening so often…I’d rather if there were transcripts provided eventually, since reading is better for me than listening, but I’ll just have to make do.

  28. Andrew S. Reply

    Interesting first podcast (I’m kinda late here, since you guys’ve obviously gotten two more out and are working on the fourth). Can’t say I can afford to be doing so much listening so often…I’d rather if there were transcripts provided eventually, since reading is better for me than listening, but I’ll just have to make do.

  29. Swearing Elder Reply

    This was a great discussion. Mormonism is so ingrained me I don’t know that I could totally “leave it alone,” even though I would like to try. The real question is whether the church could ever leave ME alone…

  30. simplysarah Reply

    I was just referred here and am listening to the first podcast and agree with Andrew that it’s very interesting! Very enjoyable. But the amount of content is a little overwhelming for a late-comer like me, and transcripts would be great?

  31. simplysarah Reply

    I was just referred here and am listening to the first podcast and agree with Andrew that it’s very interesting! Very enjoyable. But the amount of content is a little overwhelming for a late-comer like me, and transcripts would be great?

  32. eric comstock Reply

    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.’
    I think church members get their idea of ex-mormons leaving the church but not leaving it alone from what Joseph Smith said to Isaac Behunin (which happens to be my great great great grandfather. Sort of ironic considering what I am going through right now). I got this from the Joseph Smith lesson manual.

    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.’ ”15

  33. eric comstock Reply

    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.’
    I think church members get their idea of ex-mormons leaving the church but not leaving it alone from what Joseph Smith said to Isaac Behunin (which happens to be my great great great grandfather. Sort of ironic considering what I am going through right now). I got this from the Joseph Smith lesson manual.

    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.’ ”15

  34. eric comstock Reply

    I’m the the above comment did not come out right. Here is what I meant to say before the quote:

    I think church members get their idea of ex-mormons leaving the church but not leaving it alone from what Joseph Smith said to Isaac Behunin (which happens to be my great great great grandfather. Sort of ironic considering what I am going through right now). I got this from the Joseph Smith lesson manual.

  35. eric comstock Reply

    I’m the the above comment did not come out right. Here is what I meant to say before the quote:

    I think church members get their idea of ex-mormons leaving the church but not leaving it alone from what Joseph Smith said to Isaac Behunin (which happens to be my great great great grandfather. Sort of ironic considering what I am going through right now). I got this from the Joseph Smith lesson manual.

  36. Rebecca Reply

    6 Months! Whoa, it took me that long just to get out! & by that I don’t mean resign, just to admit to myself that my doubts were enough that I needed a break, I talked to my Bishop and when he couldn’t answer my questions and I couldn’t come up with enough reasons to fight the anxiety I felt as I tried to drive to church on Sunday I realized taking some time off was the best idea! I think a year is more realistic.

    Great Podcast! It’s nice to hear from former members who have made the transition, gives me hope that I can too!

  37. Rebecca Reply

    6 Months! Whoa, it took me that long just to get out! & by that I don’t mean resign, just to admit to myself that my doubts were enough that I needed a break, I talked to my Bishop and when he couldn’t answer my questions and I couldn’t come up with enough reasons to fight the anxiety I felt as I tried to drive to church on Sunday I realized taking some time off was the best idea! I think a year is more realistic.

    Great Podcast! It’s nice to hear from former members who have made the transition, gives me hope that I can too!

  38. Polly Reply

    I made a comment in RS about the “can leave the church but you can’t leave it alone” thing being a myth. It was a really frustrating lesson on why people leave the church. (The manual really doesn’t even touch on the real reasons. It’s all blame, blame, shame, shame. * see John Dehlin’s essay for a more accurate account of why people leave the church) It makes me really frustrated that clearly in their minds the ONLY reason anyone would ever leave the church is that they are a sinner. One women got a little hostile that I would suggest that not every ex-Mormon is an anti-Mormon. I explain that I have had many family members that have left the church, and they couldn’t care less about it all these years later. They don’t lay up at night worrying about the church’s growth. They don’t care. I also said that most people who leave the church fight tooth and nail to stay, and in the end they just can’t believe it. TBMs just can’t accept that some people just don’t think it’s true even after doing the Moroni Promise. I’m a practicing member, but I have a close friend, who I love dearly, who seriously tried her best to do as the missionaries instructed and she wanted to believe, however she just couldn’t. We always speak about people need to find the truth for themselves, but we only accept their answer as valid if it agrees with our dogma. That seems so wrong to me. We should be able to respect the answers people get.

  39. Polly Reply

    I made a comment in RS about the “can leave the church but you can’t leave it alone” thing being a myth. It was a really frustrating lesson on why people leave the church. (The manual really doesn’t even touch on the real reasons. It’s all blame, blame, shame, shame. * see John Dehlin’s essay for a more accurate account of why people leave the church) It makes me really frustrated that clearly in their minds the ONLY reason anyone would ever leave the church is that they are a sinner. One women got a little hostile that I would suggest that not every ex-Mormon is an anti-Mormon. I explain that I have had many family members that have left the church, and they couldn’t care less about it all these years later. They don’t lay up at night worrying about the church’s growth. They don’t care. I also said that most people who leave the church fight tooth and nail to stay, and in the end they just can’t believe it. TBMs just can’t accept that some people just don’t think it’s true even after doing the Moroni Promise. I’m a practicing member, but I have a close friend, who I love dearly, who seriously tried her best to do as the missionaries instructed and she wanted to believe, however she just couldn’t. We always speak about people need to find the truth for themselves, but we only accept their answer as valid if it agrees with our dogma. That seems so wrong to me. We should be able to respect the answers people get.

  40. Jeanmarie Todd Reply

    I’m enjoying the podcasts, keep up the good work.
    I left the church for the most part more than 25 years ago and didn’t give it much thought, except when my mom kept sending me Mormon videos and such and never failed to tell me in her letters that she was praying for me and put me on the prayer rolls of the temple. Sigh. And a couple of times over the years the church seemed to find me, but for the most part we left each other alone.

    After the Prop 8 debacle, I finally was galvanized to formally leave and I sent my resignation letter in last August (2010) and the church at first tried to get me to go to my local bishop, whom I’d never met and had no desire to, but then even before I formulated my reply to them they sent another letter saying they had followed my instructions and cancelled my membership.

    I have no regrets about this (except that I didn’t do it decades sooner). But strangely, my interest in Mormon culture and history has recently revived. I listen to the Irreligiosophy podcasts (hardly faith-promoting stories there) and recently discovered Mormon Expression. I’m intrigued by the mix of faithful, questioning, and apparently post-Mormon and non-Mormon perspectives in the discussions.

    I’m not interested in rejoining the LDS church, but I am interested, I’ve very recently realized, in reclaiming my heritage. After all, I’m several generations Mormon (fifth? sixth?) on my mom’s side (Danish and English converts in the pioneer days) and I’m at least third generation on my dad’s side. So why shouldn’t I be interested in what’s going on in Mormonism? It’s a fascinating institution and culture, and it’s a part of me.

  41. Brian M Reply

    I ended my participation in my LDS community 2 years ago and I just found out about Mormon Discussions. I’ve literally spent almost everyday since checking exmormon.org at least once for a sense of community support that I needed. Over the last month I’ve devoured Mormon Discussions podcasts and I’ve noticed a very big change in how I feel about my ex-Mormon journey.

    These podcasts have better humanized past and present LDS leaders for me, given me a much more accurate and well rounded view of LDS history than I had obtained on my own. What is gathered at this site is far superior to any other website I’ve found to aid in the transition from believing Mormonism literally to constructing what new healthy perspective you will build on.

    The pannel discussion format is absolutely genius. It has allowed my mind to humanize the different points of view that exist about Mormonism that differ from my own. 

    I will admit to having the silly raging desire to somehow do my part to bring justice to LDS leadership for the half-truths and falsifications that are perpetuated and mislead the submissive members of the community. I just see this as silly now and I realize that my relationships with LDS members don’t have to be centered around Mormonism at all. Mormonism will run its course in people’s lives by forces at play much larger than my own influence. 

    The reason for this is that I realize that I am by no means qualified to give people advice on a better worldview. I respect now that this is the right of every person to not be subjected to offensive pressure to see things the way I do. I’ve been obnoxious a few times in the past year and I’ve learned that it really doesn’t help anyone to do so.

    Thanks to Mormon Discussions I’ve broken my exmormon.org dependency and received a lot of new clearer perspective that has humanized Mormons and other fringe beliefs much better for me.

    Thanks!

  42. Larrin Reply

    I’m having a hard time finding the episode through iTunes on my iPod. Am I looking in the wrong place or is it not there?

    • Anonymous Reply

      Hi Larrin.  We’re having  technical difficulty with the itunes feed.  Until it’s fixed the episodes are only available online.  Once we get the feed sorted out you’ll be able to download it.  John and I were talking about cross-posting on ME until then.  I’ll let you know.  🙂

  43. Anonymous Reply

    RE: Marks in the garments.

    I remember as a kid thinking the marks on the chest region of my parents’ garments were just normal underwear markings. (I never noticed the mark on the leg.) I just assumed all underwear had markings like that. Then, when I was a teenager and heard about marks the on garments, I would search my parents garments while folding laundry, trying to find these oh-so-secret marks.

    Did I ever mention I wasn’t necessarily a bright child? haha.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Well, you sure have made up for it over time. You’re easily one of the most eloquent, thoughtful people I have the privileged of knowing. And you play a mean game of Michigan Rummy.

  44. Anonymous Reply

    Yay!  Loved this premiere episode of ME Voices.  McCall’s music sets the tone and concludes beautifully.  Can’t wait to hear more.

  45. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    I second what Robyn said about McCall Erickson’s song, ‘A Better Me’. The trailer music fit perfectly and I love her music.

    The discussion is insightful whenever I hear John and Zilpha. Thanks for sharing. Heather, moderating this voices podcast will bring about meaningful iconoclasm. Keep it up.

  46. Patrick Darby Reply

    Door knobs?!!!! You guys crack me up.

    But seriously, my oldest is nine and I have no real clue what sexual ethics I want to teach  him and his siblings. I think I’m going to go for the “here’s the facts…here’s how to protect yourself…and don’t even THINK about doing it in the backseat of my car…” approach.

  47. Buffalo Reply

    This was super fascinating! Thanks for doing this. Like John, I stopped believing in God too before I ever started looking at the problems with the church. 

  48. Anonymous Reply

    A couple of comments. 

    I’m one of the people who stays  out of the open group because I’m not there yet.  Not living out loud. 

    The stuff about the mission very much hit home with me. 

    Same with the temple stuff.  People need preparation for that. 

    I’m glad for your example of living out loud.  Thanks guys. 

  49. Alf O'Mega Reply

    Regarding the origin of Zilpha’s name, I always assumed it was a mistranscription of Leah’s handmaid Zilpah (Gen. 29:24), the same way Oprah is a mistranscription of Ruth’s sister-in-law Orpah (Ruth 1:4).

    And books are not aquatic creatures.

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