Fifty Ways to Leave the Church

Panel Discussion

Posted June 28th, 2015

Glenn, Jake, Jon, Randy, and Tom respond to a listener email: “Hey guys, what are the top 3 reasons you left the church?”

So, OK, maybe it should be called 50 “reasons” to leave the church, but just go with us on this one…

Glenn

Jake

John

Randy

Tom

  • Merlin

    When are you going to start posting the video? I want to watch John Hamer glare.

  • sd

    The first five minutes of this podcast have to be five of the best IOT moments over! Singing Infants? Holy hell that was FABULOUS! I’m not saying there is a Tony in the works or anything, but hearing the song stylings of Glenn,,,better than I ever thought it could be! But, far and away, Tom ruled that one. Way to go, boys! Okay, off to hear the rest. Or, maybe replay the beginning a couple more times.

  • Thomas Moore

    This was great episode. You guys have brought up a question that I have had for awhile amongst my exmormon, postmormon and those still “studying” their way out. When I started finding out a lot of this information. I became obsessed and within 48 hours I knew it was all a sham.
    Yet, I hear of many that spend weeks, months and years “studying” their way out. Why does it take some of us only a few days or even hours; yet for others it takes so long?

    • Pam

      I have that same question/experience. I have wondered if it was because I had “left” the church emotionally before I found the evidence and facts. I think I had put together on a certain level of consciousness that there was already a lot of BS to wade through.

    • Daved6

      We’re all different. Some chumps study it out, realizing their ideas and findings aren’t any more conclusive then many of the LDS claims that people on the out want to deride.

      • Thomas Moore

        See that just confuses me. I’m not being obstinate or a jerk. It took minutes for me to gain a testimony, It took me minutes to realize it was all a sham. One doesn’t study into the church; even though we had seminary, institute, Sunday School etc… As surely as I felt the Holy Ghost confirm the Book of Mormon, I felt the power of Truth in the same flash of realization.

        • Daved6

          Sure some have studied into the Church. But the Church doesn’t really think that a credible way to gain converts. The Church sees a spiritual world as the context for which a person feels converted. On this, the Church has set it up so that any studier can see discrepancies and problems and yet at the same time feel confident the Church has inspiration.

    • Tierza Rose Askren

      I’m one of those loooooonnnnngggg burn people – and I am certain it has everything to do with personality. When John Hamer described his de-conversion in his “PPI” it hit me that I had many of the same thoughts at around the same age – but had not one tiny lick of confidence that I could possibly be right. Then, because I had those questions so early, new issues weren’t shocking to my system. Also, most of my early sources for support about my doubts came from Christian organizations many of which make arguments against the church that are as stupid as the arguments the church makes for itself . . . All of which adds up to my doubting for most of my life but not leaving until, as a 35 year old, I finally realized that the church had been telling me my whole life I was stupid but that I wasn’t.

  • Ron Hill

    Intro is brilliant !!! – lyrics please

  • Pam

    I mean, COME ON!! That intro was killer. I can’t get over it. I am trying to listen to the rest… And I can’t. I just keep going back. Seriously. You guys crack me up.

  • TGD

    God damn! You open some old fucking wounds with this one. Gay basher! I fucking lived in continuous fear for my life in high school and college because of those out and proud gay bashers. One of which lived next door to me. It’s been over 25 years now and I’m still trying to work this shit out. Fucking hell you guys. Fucking hell.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Well I thought I couldn’t feel worse about my past until tonight. You know the saying about when good people do nothing in the face of evil. My 16-17 year old self was guilty of that.

      • Thomas Moore

        I grew up in Northern AZ. The Navajo reservation was close by. So I hate to admit it also, but my H.S. buddies were “let’s go roll the Indians”. I’m not proud and am very ashamed. I know that at least one of my “buddies” would sometimes rape the women. I did report it, but a victim never came forward so the cops did nothing.
        I was guilty of racism and have changed so much. I’m gay and in H.S. up until my mission, I chanted or called out derogatory words towards gays and Native Americans.

    • Matt

      Just before my mission I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It was one of the best books I had read and instantly made Malcolm X one of this lilly white mormon boy’s heroes.

      The reason was because he demonstrated the rare ability to change and evolve. He went from criminal known as Malcolm Little to an articulate, educated leader of men known as Malcolm X. Then at great personal cost, and ultimately his life, he made the difficult decision to leave the religion that gave him notoriety and power because of integrity and intellectual honesty. He evolved once again and for a very short time before his death was known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. He became a man that embraced the human family and not just his own race. He is truly someone worth looking up to.

      Similarly, Randy is someone who has evolved and changed for the better. He is acutely self aware and willing to reconsider and realign his beliefs and conduct with what is right. That’s one reason why I love and respect him so much. Anyone with the willingness and ability to do that is also one off my heroes.

      Randy has advocated on behalf of the LBGT community for a long time now. He is a fierce ally. He has demonstrated through his words and actions. I believe part of the reason he advocates with such ferocity is because he recognizes, as many of us do, that we have a debt to pay for the wrongness of our position and actions when we are younger.

      Rather than attacking Randy’s 16 year old self, I’d prefer to embrace and elevate 40 year old Randy and realize that he is actually an example of what we hope other people become.

      Now, you know I mean this because I prefer to mess with Randy, knowing that he knows how I truly feel about him, but damn man, this guy isn’t worthy of anything but praise on this issue.

      Love ya bro!

      • TGD

        Sorry, this was all a huge trigger for me. I’m not attacking anyone. Sorry it sounded that way. These feelings are all still very raw. I shouldn’t have posted that.

        • Randy_Snyder

          Hey, I can’t even imagine the deep trauma you went through and are still suffering from. It sickens and saddens me and if posting that helped you work through an unexpected trigger we caused I’m glad you posted it. Sorry to do that to you brother.

  • Mike B

    Jon, the thing you said about David and the people not being able to criticize the king was very interesting and something that I have heard of before. Where would I look to read and learn more about that? Awesome show, guys! Thanks.

    • Mike B

      meant to say “…something that I have NEVER heard of before.”

  • Matthew Vernon

    the “Schoolhouse Rock” seems to be morphing into “Flight of the Conchords”

  • Krystal

    While patriarchy and abuse/misuse of power was a big catalyst for me, I’m not offended that sexism wasn’t a major player in your disaffection. I appreciate that you guys recognize it though.
    And re the temple ceremony and my husband knowing my name, I totally remember thinking that was a super lame ritual and would end up biting us in the ass since I was 99% sure he wouldn’t even remember it. Sure enough, after we left the church, I asked him if he remembered. I even gave him clues. Nope. Good thing it’s all bullshit.

  • Daved6

    We’re all different. Some chumps study it out, realizing their ideas and findings aren’t any more conclusive then many of the LDS claims that people on the out want to deride.

  • Gabriel von Himmel

    Infants on thrones have good bones,

    Infants on thrones have great bones,
    and the earworm infants created is now rattling around in my gentile brain.
    I hope I recover from how to leave your lover –– Joseph Smith.
    http://www.scari.org/intelligent_design.html
    When speaking of Gods, i have a favorite chimera, he is the paragon, destroyer of obstacles, Mickey Ganesh
    http://www.scari.org/ganesh4.html
    After Mormonism there are other deities to worship, so keep your faith and find another truth.

    Changing the world one
    Mormon at a time through
    religious understanding and
    Mormon Counter-Apologetics

    Note: Terence Stamp is for me a fellow traveler, his debut to film was his fantastic portrayal of Bill Budd.
    Herman Mellville, created a Christ figure inculcated by Terrance Stamp; A movie, for me, that is an all-time great.
    Thanks for the reminder, I must watch it again. If you like Terence, you will love Peter Ustinov and Robert Ryan is the best of all evil.

    Pax

  • Tim

    I just love the way you are all able to talk about the things that compelled you to leave the church — the things that got so deep under your skin that you left your religious identities behind, risked relationships with family and friends, and ejected yourselves from a culture that had previously given you comfort — and laugh your asses off. It’s more entertaining than bitterness is, and it keeps it all in perspective. You guys hit your stride best when you are having the most fun.

  • Leslie North

    I would be a member of the John Hamer fan club. How did y’all get him to be a regular? Score.

  • Brandon

    You mentioned there not being a “Rough Stone Rolling” written about Brigham Young.

    I was planning on reading the biography done by Arrington, anybody know if it’s worth the read?

  • Jon Hirschi

    Well after hearing you all go on about Brigham young and his assholery, I can say that I would enjoy hearing more about the subject. I know a bit, and what I’ve heard about makes him sound like a giant narcissist criminal douchebag. Ie mountain meadows, castrations, stealing businesses, polygamy, “honor killings”, etc. I think it might make for an entertaining show to hear about it.

  • Tierza Rose Askren

    John Hamer’s diatribe against sexism in the church made me both shout “hurrah!” and squirm in frustration – since I am in a mixed-mormon-marriage and I don’t get to just pull my kids out of the church. The biggest problem with the church’s sexism is that it is so all-encompassing (in a greater society in which sexism is also everywhere to a slightly lesser degree) it is hard to see it even when you are experiencing it.

    For instance – someone mentioned mother’s lounges as one of the lame “benefits” of being a woman at church – which if that were cast up to me might make me start punching people in the throat – the indignity of trying to use one of those bare, small, hidden holes – usually with one (two if you are LUCKY) small rocking chairs (or, not infrequently, threadbare old relief society chairs someone stuck in a back closet) and seven or eight nursing mothers – those rooms are proof positive that no-one ever even thought to ask a woman what would be useful or helpful when designing a church – and evidence that no woman has any real input at all in any aspect of the church.

    (One of my favorite parts of the CoC temple, btw, is the one-way-glass parent room at the back of the worship center.)

  • AxelDC

    I think you need to do a podcast on Brigham Young. As you pointed out, Joseph Smith gets all the “love” from Exmos. Brigham Young is the David Miscavige of Mormonism.

  • Joshua Wart

    Tom, I’m pretty sure I grew up around the corner from you, in the sixth ward.

    I knew you sounded familiar!

    • Tom Perry

      Say what?!? Wait a minute… I think we do know each other. Were you my speaking companion for a bit? If you are this dude, we need to chat. πŸ™‚

      • Joshua Wart

        Yes, that was me right after the mission! I’d love to chat some time.

        Stories about your “disaffection” in the ward was actually what made me look into apologetics for the first time, so…. thanks? Maybe I’ll send you Infants an essay, “How Tom Perry unknowingly started me out of the Church.”

        • Matthew A

          Sixth ward FTW! Josh, I enjoyed the Biblical Misconceptions podcast you put together. I recognized your name in the description. Also, you were pretty dedicated to bearing your testimony back in the day, so I definitely recognized your voice. πŸ™‚ We may have to do a sixth ward disaffection reunion.

          • Joshua Wart

            Woah, an Allphin! Your brother was my first YM leader. Small world. Thanks for that; it was a fun episode to do πŸ™‚

  • John Spencer

    I have always found “initial” push the most interesting rather than the final straw. The final straws are interesting, but do not draw you in. It is like reading the conclusion of the book and not focusing upon the introduction, the development, nor the climax.
    They are also interesting because it basically creates the moment where one can truly question, but the way it comes about it so different from one another.
    My “initial” was when I was the ward organist. I played a Purcell piece for a “special music number” and afterwards the older woman in the ward came up and said, “Brother Spencer, when you play my blouse just bursts open”. When I turned to look at her she was cupping both of her breasts. When she realized what she was doing she dropped her hands and said, “I mean my bosom is heaving!” She really started to panic and then quickly said, “I mean I feel the spirit”. I laughed off the experience.
    The next day my then-wife and I were at the mall and she slipped into Victoria’s Secret with a wink that said, “You are so getting some tonight”. I sat on the bench outside and when she came out with the pink bag I bristled with anticipation. Then I realized that the feeling I had in that exact moment was exactly like when someone told me that I was feeling the spirit. I thought of all the times that I can recreate that feeling, like when I listen to Beethoven’s 9th or Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. Heck, I watch the movie “Babe” and I get that feeling.
    The only difference was when I felt that in church someone was coaching me telling me that it was the spirit manifesting truth to me. Each decision I had made in life with regards to spirituality had that same feeling, but could easily be explained differently. I had just been to an amazing concert which I interpreted as God telling me to serve a mission (with the help of my bishop). 9-11 was the day that I decided to go back to church because of the comfort that I received from a friend (who then also informed me of feeling the spirit). Heck, I made out with my then-wife and proposed to her shortly after thinking that I was feeling the spirit (when in reality it was just my hormones).
    My faith unraveled, it took five years, but it unraveled. The rest is merely the inevitable.

  • Dan

    So this is the third time that I’ve heard Jake mention Deutero Isiah in the Book of Mormon so I decided I’d go look it up. First I learned what it is (thanks Wikipedia) then found the apologetics at FAIR. I have to say it’s the most I’ve ever read on FAIR but it blew my mind. I got as far as this line and then rage quit : If you accept the Book of Mormon as true, there is no Deutero-Isaiah β€œproblem.” πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘

  • Randy_Snyder

    That’s some crack logic and reason. Worst Jedi mind trick ever.

  • Greg

    I’m new to Infants and before I found the way, the truth and the light that is Infants on Thrones I stumbled across thechurchisnottrue podcast. Is it just me or does Glenn sound a lot like Hyrum? The editing is also eerily similar. Its blowing my mind right meow.

  • michael

    Really enjoyed this one. Thanks guys.

  • guest

    John,
    at 42:00, when you talk about the genie god, what is that (latin?) phrase you used for “I give in order that you will give”? Thanks!

  • Anissa R.

    I thought it was interesting when John had one of his reasons be sexism and then the logic behind why it wasn’t anyone else’s was that you all sat in a privileged position so it didn’t affect you. And you hadn’t personally experienced it. Which I get. Yet, some of you straight men had reasons for doubt because of how the church treated gay people, or the racism, even though you aren’t black. You didn’t experience that first hand either. So, food for thought. Have any guesses why you can have black men or gay men treated unfairly hurt your testimony, but not women? Maybe the church is better at disguising their sexism, or maybe because racism and bigotry affect men?… Thought experiment. Just curiosity. Not judging, just wanted to start a discussion about that.

    • Randy_Snyder

      It’s an interesting question and a cause for self-reflection. I do think part of it was we grew up hearing over and over from WOMEN that they cherished their role and having priesthood in their home. You never hear black Mormons in testimony meeting saying they cherished the priesthood ban and gays? They didn’t exist in my Mormon world bc if they were gay they certainly weren’t openly talking about it.

      • Ryan Gregson

        I’d agree this is a big part of it. It’s much more difficult to even recognize the sexism while you’re on the inside.

      • Anissa R.

        Very good point. This is one reason why sexism wasn’t even my first catalyst into doubt. It is hard to see it from a pedestal. But it was number two or three.

    • Matt

      I didn’t offer my 3 and if I did, sexism wouldn’t likely be on the list (my 3 probably would be: Book of Mormon historicity, polyandry, and blacks and the priesthood) but it was a huge factor. It wasn’t what initially caused me to doubt – probably for the reasons Randy said. However, once the other issues opened my eyes, the obvious sexism smacked me in the face. It was, to me and my family, the one thing I needed to shield my children (boy and girls) from and was the thing that prevented me from believing church was a net positive. The sexist/misogynist in church was the single reason we ultimately stopped attending after losing our faith and the reason I actively encouraged my kids to not attend.

      I don’t think this is unique to men. In the Mormon context women and men both buy into the idea that women are not only equal, but in many ways superior to men and the priesthood/patriarchy/inequity isn’t really sexism or misogyny, but just an organizational necessity. There’s a hangover related to that thinking that takes a little while to shake. I think that’s why the realization of the incredible sexism often comes after people are well into their doubting phase.

      • Anissa R.

        I agree. Once there is finally doubt, the other discrepancies become glaringly obvious!

  • Jennifer

    Just listened to this . . . and it’s a little late, but Jahn Hamer is my hero! Sexism was a huge part of my leaving the church, too.

  • Rawkcuf

    The biggest, most damning thing for me was:
    The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.
    That is a nasty piece of work. I was in the overflow when someone in the ward read it out. I couldn’t believe it! Why weren’t the other members running for their pitchforks? I went out into the hall, but couldn’t resist finding out what other reeking feculence the speaker would come up with…

  • Seth L.

    Looking forward to when you guys cover respect. My disaffection is still a fresh wound and it can be very hard to stand up in church (Still going occasionally with my wife to help with kids) and start shouting “BULLSHIT” when someone praises Joseph Smith as being second unto Christ. You have really taken the anger and sting out of my disaffection. My wife is very grateful that I am no longer under a rain cloud prone to outburst.

    I would have to say personally that the Utah Mormon Culture was the first itch that finally led to my downfall but that never seems to be enough alone to push someone over the edge. I think my unhappiness with the two faced culture and non-sense parasitical rules caused me to put all of my belief eggs in the church has to be true basket. The only reason I stayed Mormon, accepted my calling, and cared was because it was true and the culture was just imperfect people. I never once asked if the church was what it claimed. I set myself up to fail. My confidence in the claims of the church led me to watching a 1 hour youtube video that claimed to explain the ten problems with the LDS church. The rest is history.

  • Rawkcuf

    “The Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet” was for me a very clear proof that the leadership are no longer interested in leading by inspiration… this is a license for authority abuse, turning the members into sheep, and institutionalizing leader worship.