The Intellectually Ousted

The Intellectually Ousted March 12, 2007

I have been thinking a lot lately about ex-Mos. In so doing, I imagine what their excommunications are like, or what their mindset was like when they petitioned to have their ‘records removed.’ I even know some ex-Mos; some who have taken the long way back into membership, others who have left the church, and others who have left the church but cannot leave it alone (There was a great post at BCC over this, but I can’t find the link). Instead of concentrating on the ex-Mo himself, I have been thinking about all the people affected by the ex-Mos departure (assuming he/she decides to stay out and not seek a way back).

I may sound reductionistic, but it seems like there are two kinds of ex-Mos: 1) those who commit a sin the church considers egregious and are excommunicated, and 2) those who leave without committing serious sin, or who leave for intellectual reasons. In both cases, membership is revoked (ie, I’m not discussing the habitually inactive). It seems to me that the group who fall into the first category are generally welcomed back, given the hand of fellowship, and receive a lot of help along the way. However, I have known a few people (mostly from my days as a missionary a long time ago) who left the church for intellectual reasons. Their faith could no longer support Mormonism’s claims. With this latter group, I almost never saw the same heart-warming reactions among those affected by the ex-Mo’s decision to leave. Instead I noted contempt, disdain, abandonment, and often ridicule. Sometimes I wonder if things might have gone easier/smoother if the person who fled over intellectual disagreements had instead confessed to an (imaginary?) egregious transgression in order to avoid some of these post-membership complications.

Again, I know I might appear like I’m being overly reductionistic, but I do believe there is a kernel of truth in this. (If I could steer the comments, I would ask only those who have observed the same thing or something very similar to respond). In my sincere heart of hearts, I wonder why those who choose exile over intellectual incompatibility seem to receive ill treatment over those who fall victim to their passions.

Any suggestions why this may be?

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