I’ve spent more time than perhaps I should have down in the trenches, dealing with alienated and disaffected members as well as with never-Mormon critics of the claims of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this tallies with my experience:
It isn’t typically this or that specific historical or doctrinal issue that takes former believers out of the Church, but, more commonly, a suspicion that they’ve been misled or even lied to. This very often makes them quite bitter.
I think they’re usually mistaken, and that their unfortunate bitterness is misplaced. But that’s the way things are. And it’s extraordinarily difficult to bring people back once they’ve become cynical and embittered.
That’s why I’ve long argued that the best policy is full honesty and the open acknowledgment of human errors in Mormon history. Inoculation, if you will. The claims of the Restoration are, I’m convinced, quite strong enough to withstand serious scrutiny. But the seed of the Gospel cannot survive, let alone flourish, in soil rendered too acidic by angry cynicism. Preventive measures are imperative.
Joseph Smith was a true prophet, by the way.
Posted from Park City, Utah