Why are we leaving the LDS Church in droves? Why? Why? Why?

I think that Kevin Barney was sincerely interested in finding answers when he first posed the question. The trouble is that when you ask a question on the Internet, there’s a danger that you’ll get responses from people who have actual, first-hand experience. Then the double-trouble is that it’s hard to answer that question in a reasonable way without, y’know, pointing out things that might possibly be wrong with the CoJCoL-dS. Which, in Mormonland, is not kosher. Those are the kinds of truths that aren’t useful — unless you want to actually address and solve the problems. But that would require acknowledging that the CoJCoL-dS may not be already perfect exactly the way it is. Just imagining such a thing makes some believers respond with la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-anymore-because-I’m-bearing-my-testimony-at-you-now (which Chino argues may be the root of the problem).

But, to be fair, the responses that Andrew calls “cringe-worthy” (about how obviously bad and wrong the church is) don’t really answer the question either. We’ve hardly scratched the surface of the main mysteries:

  • Why now? Why was the LDS church growing a few decades ago and now heading into decline? (If it’s not true now, it’s not as though it was more true thirty years ago…)
  • Why is religion in general losing ground throughout the industrialized world? Are Mormonism’s problems just a part of that trend, or is there something more going on in Zion?
  • Why is it that the more liberal/laid-back religions seem to be losing ground faster than the more extreme/all-consuming religions? (Is that actually the case, and is Mormonism a counter-example?)

Now, I have my own theory about this, but please formulate your own theory before reading it.


OK, remember how they used to teach us in Sunday School that nobody knows when the exact time of the Second coming will be, not even Heavenly Father? Well, naturally that causes some coordination and planning problems. HF had saved up a whole bunch of choice, valiant spirits for the last days — but He used them all up a generation ago, and now in the latter-latter days, He’s left scraping the bottom of the spirit barrel. Meanwhile, Jesus is still in the bathroom doing his hair for His return in clouds of glory.

But, seriously, any ideas?


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at @chanson@social.linux.pizza or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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530 Responses

  1. jason says:

    seth–im going to try and be not contentious here, and no im not giving you an excuse but ive been on this computer for a while now and have some buisness to attend to. Ive been to churches all over the world and i have never met another mormon who had your views, and yes also about the seed of cain, even pres. hinkley did not deny it when it was asked of him in a tv interview, the reason why is because they can not deny it. They may try to work their statements AROUND it and who wouldnt, the church is trying to save souls. No im saying your headed in the way of apostacy because you apease sin. A) Ask a mormon, you might find your the odd ball out. If you want to rewrite the history of the church to apease people you are showing you fear God not man so thats on you. I dont teach false doctrine i just call out members who have nothing better to do then argue with members while hugging everyone else. How are you helping anybody? You do fit right in here. B) I believe modern leadership trys their best to not offend people and that they are being influenced by the groups i have previously named not to mention mormons who are moving to the left and causing a devide within the church of false ideals. I dont know why you try to make this more difficult then it is. “Who’s on the Lord’s side?” I hope you can correct your course you might get lost in the darkness. Remember faith without works is dead! I have to go cause i cant work on my works on the computer all day i dont think that is what God had in mind, capital G..

  2. Seth R. says:

    I didn’t ask you about the “seed of Cain” Jason.

    I asked you about the doctrine of “fence sitters.”

    Now man up, answer the question, and quit trying to change the subject.

  3. jason says:

    seth–man up? you dont know how silly you sound. Yes i totaly STILL believe just like just about every other past prophet that blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence and if that offends then so be it, i do NOT care to be politicaly correct in the least bit. Now if you are wanting to know something more specific specify it cause i find your question very broad. No i dont care to be politicaly correct like current leaders of the church may try to be. If you take these things hard to hear then maybe rely more on the spirit and less on your liberal view of things.

  4. jason says:

    urban koda–you play to many video games and im amuzed at how smart you think you realy are..??? Well atleast i got a laugh.

  5. jason says:

    Everyone–well ive had fun on this site but i must say many of you are so lost i can smell the sulfur burning on your skin. No matter how much not hearing your sins make them go away in your head its still there and youll have to pay the price of your sins cause the savior ONLY pays the price of sins you repent of, and sense you dont think your doing anything wrong youll have to pay for it. No matter how fun it may be i feel an evil spirit from many of you commenting on this site. Im not saying any of you are evil but satan has stopped your progression and is quickly leading you down to hell with chains. You all jump on me cause you take the words of the savior and/or his prophets hard to hear and it condems you in your homes and in your hearts. And seth i believe you are an apeaser of evil and i think you are no worse then satans fallen angels. For as smart as you think you are, you are actualy not that bright. the comming spiritual war more then likely will be physical as well and i hope for your sake your not standing across the field against me cause im headed for the apeasers first. So long

  6. Ms. Jack says:

    well ive had fun on this site but HURR sinners HURR homophobia HURR misogyny HURR Jesus HURR balls HURR anal sex HURR you’re all going to hell HURR apostates HURR racism HURR couldn’t back up a single argument that I made HURR I lash out at better men because I’m insecure in my own masculinity HURR So long


  7. chanson says:

    Good morning from Switzerland!

    Looking over last night’s comments, I’d say that everyone’s position is quite clear and doesn’t require further explanation.

    Not feeding the troll means completely ignoring it not replying to it, not asking it questions, not defending yourself against its accusations (unnecessary, because everyone already knows that whatever it says is wrong), not piling on with criticism (no matter how well deserved), not making fun of it, not anything. And everyone has to do it for it to work. Just sayin.

    Exactly. As long as people here are still asking Jason serious questions, defending themselves against his accusations, composing elaborate analyses of Jason’s position, etc., that tells me you’re still interested in what he has to say. And sure, the admins of MSP could come around and put a padlock on the cookie jar, so to speak, but is it necessary?

  8. As a stake president I am going to have to side with Jason in that the people on here (apart from Jason and I) are basically no better than Satans fallen angels. We would counsel you all to repent and return to church this coming sabbath.

  9. jason says:

    Amen and Amen

  10. Derrick says:


    Before you start typing on a site like this, please make sure that you are able to formulate a complete sentence and for the love of God, please check your spelling before you click the “submit comment” button. It just makes you look stupid when you don’t.

    and Bill (president Paternoster),

    What is an upstanding Stake president, as you claim to be, doing reading a blog like this? Are you looking for those who are lost so that you can save them? Or, are you looking for members of your own stake posting comments here so you can bust them? It seems to me, like most people here, that you are looking for answers to your unanswered questions about the church. Whatever your reason for reading this blog, perhaps you should keep your righteous indignation to your own flock. Your stewardship is not over anyone here and lest you forget, you are NOT the judge.

  11. Thank you Derrick. As I sat in my church office contemplating your question I was reminded of the counsel given by Elder M. Russell Ballard. He urged graduating students at Brigham Young University-Hawaii to use the Internet, blogs, and other forms of new media to contribute to a national conversation about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    He suggested that we join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.

    He explained that conversations about the Church would take place whether or not Church members decided to participate in them. We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches, he said. Church leaders cant answer every question, satisfy every inquiry and respond to every inaccuracy that exists.

    It is in this spirit that righteous members such as Jason and leaders such as myself find ourselves on blogs such as this. I have even started a blog wherein one can read the thoughts of a stake president as he deals with the many issues facing members today. Feel free to click on my name to see the blog and don’t hesitate to contribute to the conversations over there.

    All the best,

    Bill Paternoster

  12. Chris says:

    Bill, I think most of us have heard Ballard’s talk about internet missionary work. However, I think Derrick is trying to make a different point.

    I remember when I was on the mission and how I behaved. Not once, did I ever condemn anyone to a “hell” although I certainly could have found justification to do so. It was obvious many of these people were “sinning.” I was not alone either – many missionaries chose not to condemn anyone. It seemed that it just wasn’t in our place to do so. Also, it just wasn’t effective.

    So take a moment and think to yourself, “how would I behave in real life if I were on a mission? Maybe I should apply those same techniques on the internet?”

    While you may think it is your duty to condemn people to a “hell”, the purpose of this blog (as it appears) is to have meaningful conversations.

  13. Derrick says:


    Thank you for your kind response. I can get behind your reasoning for being here. I have even read Russ Ballards talk you referenced. However, as I read the talk, I’m not seeing where Ballard has given anyone permission, including ecclesiastical leaders, to “judge” another person for their points of view or for expression their authentic thoughts and feelings. In doing so, it seems that we are no “better” than the people who are ‘ranting’ on this blog.

    In my feeble mind, I see us as a people who are so in need of grace and mercy. I see all of us reaching out, not for someone to agree with a point-of-view or even for validation but rather a word or encouragement on our spiritual journey. A kind word about the how BOUNDLESS the Lord’s mercies are, goes a long way in this community. Or, acknowledgement that we are all sinners and that we all desperately need the atonement and the blood of Jesus Christ to save us from our our mortal selves.

    As a stake president, you well know that every member of the church has their own journey and follow their own spiritual path. As much as the church would like to correlate and standardize the “journey”, they are finding that it just can’t be done – hence the title of this blog. Instead of keeping people ‘in’ we are driving them away.

    As I further contemplate Ballards remarks I realize my role is to testify of Jesus Christ and reassure all people in this world that he loves them unconditionally, regardless of the path they are on and for them to reach out to Him in their time of need and in their confusion.

    I have read your blog and will respectfully contribute to what you have to say because I am fascinated about your experience as a ecceliastical leader, it is not an easy job.

    God loves all his children, even the ones on this site. He loves them as much as he loves you and other church leaders. It’s humbling to comtemplate this!

    God Bless,


  14. You make a very good point Christ. I would however counsel all missionaries to do as D&C 75:20 instructs which I will quote for your benefit from memory below:
    “And in whatsoever house ye enter, and they receive you not, ye shall depart speedily from that house, and shake off the dust of your feet as a testimony against them.”

    A large part of missionary work is to give opportunities to the world to accept the truth. As missionaries are rejected they are to shake off the dust as a testimony against their rejectors at the last day. This will become useful on judgement day when Christ assigns people to their different degrees of glory.

    As a missionary I always felt it an honor to follow this scripture.


  15. Chris says:

    Sigh. I tried.

    Anyway… looks like there is no internet equivalent for D&C 75:20, eh? So that means you’ll keep coming back and coming back and coming back….

  16. chanson says:

    Chris & Derek — While I can’t speak for the illustrious President Paternoster, I’d recommend that you go have a look at his blog, and keep in mind that many people suspect that his persona is *cough* satire *cough*

  17. Chris says:

    I thought the same thing, chanson. But have you seen his facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002049757900

    Sure he’s “liked” 8 A Mormon Proposition. I’m guessing only because he wanted to make a comment on its fan page.

  18. Chris says:

    Also, his profile pic seems to be original because I can’t find any duplicates on tineye.com. Although that’s not a guarantee…

  19. jason says:

    Derrick–I know you take these things hard to here thats why you like to throw insults at people like me and president Paternoster. Instead of making excuses for your sin why dont you attempt to make a change in your life and repent of your sins. Our leadership has told us to come and get involved on the internet and another reason could be that we actualy care about your souls. How great will our joy be if we can save even one soul Derrick. When your father gives you loving advice and tells you your doing something wrong do you tell him to get lost or do you humble yourself and turn away from your wrong doing? My guess is that most of the people on this site may not have a great relationship with their fathers if their sins disagree with their fathers counsil. No Im not your father and neither is president Paternoster, but there is a saying that God chastises those whom he loves and God works through people on the earth to represent his feeling, and if he has to use people like us to rebuke sinful behavior then so be it. We are now in the final hour and close to the comming of Jesus Christ and we are now as bad or worse then it was in the days of Noah and the city of Sodom. Why do you think we are so close tho the second comming? We are close to Christ’s comming because sin is so great and people think that they are smarter then God and think that they can tell others what is sin and what is not sin. God and God alone has the authority to set commandments and brothers and sisters on this site, your sin is great, and you are playing a part in the comming distruction of people who will be burnt off at the lords comming, and if i can help the lord save one of your souls then i am greatful to him.

  20. Seth R. says:

    I notice that a lot of my ex-Mormon friends online seem to be followers of Paternoster’s website.

    Most online Mormons who’ve looked into his stuff are convinced that Bill Paternoster’s website is a spoof.

    I’d also note that he shows up all over the place online. And his comments always start with “as a stake president.”

    Which seems a pretty clear giveaway to me. Since real stake presidents would be discouraged from announcing their position online or making it seem in any way that their private online views represent the LDS Church.

  21. derrick says:

    It also begs the question why is he taking so much time, especially on a Sunday, to write on this blog. Doesn’t he have a ward conference to attend or some poor sinner to call to repentance?

  22. derrick says:


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  23. kuri says:

    Oh Dog, it never ends!

  24. Chris says:

    Seth, I can understand that level-headed Mormons don’t want Paternoster on their team and are quick to say his blog is satire. That makes sense.

    President Paternoster, are you willing to prove your identity?

  25. Seth R. says:

    Chris, just Google his name.

    No stake president roams the internet introducing themselves as a “stake president” before every comment.

  26. Chris says:

    Surely, the faker would know that too. Why make such a simple mistake after taking so much time with blogging and making friends on facebook, etc…

  27. Seth R. says:

    Unless they weren’t serious about it in the first place Chris. Which in the case of a spoof, is more than likely.

    Try Googling “Prudence McPrude” sometime on By Common Consent.

  28. Chris says:

    I feel like I’m on the opposite end of a “was Joseph Smith a prophet?” debate.

  29. jason says:

    chris–If you call gay ex-mormons and apostates level headed mormons then you need a reality check. Oh, by the way, most stake presidents dont go around showing internet sites their temple recommends and confirming their membership to anyone. I also want to point out that christ also saved souls on sundays so why should’nt his servants do the same.

  30. chanson says:

    To the regulars — I appreciate that you have restrained from further playing in the mud, thanks!!

    I wanted this discussion to wrap itself up without any kind of heavy-handed moderating, but, unfortunately — now that it’s almost completely died down — it’s still like a sore with an annoying scab that keeps getting picked off. And I’d normally say “whatever, no biggie,” except for this:

    the comming spiritual war more then likely will be physical as well and i hope for your sake your not standing across the field against me cause im headed for the apeasers first.

    Threats of physical violence against other commenters are absolutely not OK, especially after multiple warnings. Thus, I have no choice but to redirect further comments by Jason to moderation.

    Chris & Derrick — I have been following the Stake President blog for some time (and I’m an atheist with no interest in making the CoJCoL-dS look good), and I am convinced that it is satire. Note that Pres. Paternoster has commented on MSP since you started debating his identity, yet he didn’t bother to stop by this thread and argue that he’s for real. That — plus the thing about always telling people he’s a stake president — are his winks to you that it’s a joke.