Ex Mormon atheists

Hi,
I am an ex mormon who is now a roman catholic. I am a very live and let live type of person and I do not intend to attack the mormon church. I admire most mormons (there are always a few bad apples in any group) and I believe they do a lot of good for people. However, I have noticed that when mormons leave their church over doctrinal issues, it seems that a lot of
them become angry atheists. I have even heard some mormons say that if they found out that the lds church was not true they would no longer believe in God. I just find this heartbreaking that there is so much bitterness that these ex mormons are not able to move on and let go of their former church. I understand it is a big change to leave something as important as one’s church and a time of introspection is needed, but it does not have to last forever. My prayers to all who are on their own journeys to God that they may feel his love and not harden their hearts.

Welcome. I was raised LDS in a very TBM family, left for atheism over 25 years ago. Baptized Catholic in 2008.

The short of it is, Mormonism is damaging to the soul.

If you are brought up believing something to be true and you deeply believe in your whole heart it to be true, even being a witness to miracles to confirm your beliefs and then find out your faith is wrong, that would be hard. Some might go to either believing there is no God or they might become angry at God. Others might look at the fact that they believed in something so deeply and it turned out to be wrong and are afraid to join another religion, or may say that they were fooled by their faith and it’s likely that Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc. are being fooled as they once were.

I don’t know much about LDS so I don’t know if this applies to them, but I think people who leave a faith that taught very strongly that it was the only truth, and made much of how wrong other religions are etc many people were taught it’s this or nothing…so they go with nothing.

Also, when a faith is strongly tied to the person’s culture as well, and leaving it causes one to lose many people and ways of life they identify with, they end up feeling even more marginalized, and angry to have lost so much, to feel that their very life was a lie. That can lead to a great deal of active anger and anti theism, not merely atheism.

This is quite insightful. Now I am a TBM (true believing Mormon) and for awhile I was an atheist. Oh, not a declared, come out and argue with people sort of atheist, but I didn’t have any belief in God. Then I found my faith…and for awhile I felt that if I lost it again that I would be atheist. Certainly, as much as my own beliefs are mocked, I can’t see where the beliefs of the mockers are any more ‘reasonable,’ when viewed from outside, than my own are.

Then I thought…no. If Mormonism isn’t true, God still is…I’d look very seriously into Catholicism.

Now?

No.

I’d probably be a Buddhist. I think.

Whatever, I think your comments are quite accurate in many cases. I think it applies to many people who belong to other ‘way of life’ belief systems, as well.

As others have pointed out, all faiths experience this. When you can no longer believe in what had previously defined your entire life, you’re not going to look for something similar.

I think becoming an atheist was a necessary part of my salvation. It gave me a much broader perspective of religion and God and gave me a list of grievances that Christ answered for me.

I’m never too concerned when someone becomes an atheist. I’ve been there, and I can tell you that it’s almost never about defying your past and almost always about coming to terms with what you really believe. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

Frankly, I don’t blame the ex-Mormons who become militant atheists. I understand why. When someone leaves the LDS church and self-identifies as an ex-Mormon (especially BIC Mormons), they do so because they learned the truth and feel an intense betrayal. They feel betrayed by the people they love the most and trusted. Many feel so betrayed by the LDS church, they cannot trust God or anything immaterial. They only trust what is provable through the senses. They believe in philosophical naturalism and materialism. They don’t want to be fooled again by a religion so they reject all religions.

When I first left the LDS church, I thought it would have been easier to cope with the betrayal by believing that God does not exist. As a teen, I spent some time as an agnostic until I reasoned my way to God. Unfortunately I made the mistake of believing that the Mormon Heavenly Father was God. I did this because I was born and raised Mormon and trusted my parents and the church I was raised in. When I considered atheism, God reminded me of the consequences of rejecting Him, which ultimately led me to the Catholic Church. I am glad I listened to Him because without Him, it would have been much more difficult to handle the personal fall out of leaving the LDS church.

As RebeccaJ said, Mormonism is damaging to the soul. It is abusive, and when a soul leaves the abusive institution, he wants to protect himself from being abused again. Hence, God and/or religion are rejected.

For me, when I came to realize that Mormonism isn’t what it claims to be, I also knew that I believed that Jesus Christ is real, is the Son of God, is God, and that His role as our Savior is very real. So, it was natural for me to reconsider Catholicism as the Church that He established anciently, continuing down to this day. It made no sense to me to consider other religions that deny Jesus Christ, let alone the existence of a personal God.

I tend to agree with this. The foundation of Mormonism is that all other churches are wrong, and that the fulness of the Gospel was not present on the earth, nor was the priesthood of God, hence the need for a restoration. So, this idea of all other churches being wrong is fundamental to the purported necessity of Mormonism, and could be part of the reason why many LDS that leave end up being non-Christians, atheists, etc.

For myself, the day I had a realization I didn’t need to believe in God was a monumental moment. I felt freed.

As an atheist, of the nihilist sort, I came to realize that I had a construct of what God is, and therefore a God I didn’t believe in. Which, meant, I wasn’t a very good atheist. That is still what I see in most ex Mormon atheists. Their arguments are based on their construct of God.

In my inquiry into the Catholic faith, I came to realize that Mormonism had given me a false understanding of God, and my atheism was a non belief in a false God. I still do not believe in the God of Mormonism.

I have said many times that if I decided the CoJCoLDS was not God’s church, I would be at confession with some Catholic priest as soon as I could figure out how and when.
I am not sure what people think of my treatment of Catholicism here, but I generally have fond memories of my former faith and hope I do not come across as bitter (well, I am a little put-out when my current faith is portrayed as it is here more often than not).

I think there is a feeling of betrayal that sometimes comes with deciding that what one was previously taught is deficient. I hope to avoid such a thing by recognizing that all the deficiencies I have detected in the faith taught to me by my Catholic teachers and the faith taught to me by my LDS teachers are a product of fallible folks doing the best they can.
I believe God desires me to seek Him through prayer and education. Errors that occur in this endeavor source at me. I am responsible and God is perfect; where else could error occur?

Charity, TOm

Not sure how this is different from anybody raised in a church that later rejects it. I was raised Catholic and rejected my understanding of what was taught.

What really helped me was reading up on ‘stages of faith’ It helped me understand the role of fundamentalism and showed me I could seek God without needing a lobotomy.

Yes, I agree. Several years ago I read an article where the observation was raised that young Evangelical adults who became atheists said it was just easier to not believe at all rather than going with a lobotomy (so to speak using your word, that I like). :slight_smile: I wish I could remember where I read the article so I could post it.

I was raised Catholic and rejected my understanding of what was taught.

What really helped me was reading up on ‘stages of faith’ It helped me understand the role of fundamentalism and showed me I could seek God without needing a lobotomy.

For me, what really helped was “The Religious Sense” by Msgr. Luigi Giussani.

Are you implying that us poor Catholics may as well have had lobotomies? Careful.

Steve, just an observation but have others suggested that you might be ‘over sensitive’?

I was explicit in comparing all people who leave their faith as being similar, so not a jab a Catholics.
I was careful to state I rejected “my understanding” of what was taught.

All faiths have aspects that are associated with fundamentalism, and these points are usually the scapegoat when one rationalizes why they could no longer ‘believe’ or attend church. What mine were with Catholicism two decades ago are irrelevant, I’m not here to denigrate the RCC.

You may enjoy reading up on Stages of Faith by James Fowler and others. It helped me understand it was quite common for someone to apply a scientific mindset and reject their childhood faith. It helped me understand I could also grow or reacquire my faith without reverting to my childhood level of understanding.

After reading a quick outline of the stages, it seems that the bolded part is not possible for Mormons which may explain their atheism upon leaving.

Having been a LDS, I agree with you.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

I have seen atheist/agnostic ex-Mormons who turn against all religions, because of the Mormon explanations of the problem of pain. Knowing nothing else, they assume that the Catholic explanation is just as flawed. Actually, its beauty is the fact that it calls us to serve the afflicted, because we see Jesus in their suffering. Its beauty is also because we can identify with Christ in our own suffering, and offer it up, just as He did.

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