Here’s a post in the Salt Lake Tribune about a Mormon leader who can’t believe what he previously believed:
Mormon Leader Leaves
This guy’s experience can be explained by understanding the I-15 Mormons. I-15 Mormons live near Interstate 15 in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona, and there are a large number of remote I-15 Mormons living in Oregon, California, and Nevada. The I-15 Mormons fall into three groups:
A) Some are not curious at all about investigating anything that would cause them to experience anything uncomfortable in regards to their religion; this is a large percentage of the I-15’ers.
B) Another percentage will investigate, but are able to believe explanations for historical LDS practices or former LDS teachings.
C) Another percentage will investigate, and discover most of the “anti-Mormon” documentation is based on historical documents and formerly sanctioned LDS publications. If their belief in Mormonism is not based on feelings from God, then these folks tend to become inactive members and/or leave Mormonism.
For people in the A and B groups, they believe something is wrong with people in the C group. Either the C people have had “their feelings hurt”, or “couldn’t keep a commandment”, or “have a mental defect”. People in the A and B groups often “feel sad” for the people in the C group and “will pray for them”.
The B group and C groups tend to argue, and can’t understand how two people looking at the same set of facts, can interpret the same set of facts so differently. While the A group doesn’t want to get involved in any debates; anything that challenges their belief isn’t worth it.
For close-knit LDS families, it’s an embarrassment to have a family member in the C group. The C’ers are often ostracized and ridiculed.
Is it possible to keep people in the C group from leaving the Mormon church? Some suggestions:
1) Don’t whitewash Mormon history. Be more transparent. When the C’ers discover facts that contradict what they were taught, they feel deceived and misled. (The B group will argue that there was no deception. From the C group perspective, the B group misses the point, and vice versa)
2) Marginalize teachings that cannot ever be believed by a fact based C person (like Black people were cursed, humanity originated in Missouri, American Indians are descendants of Jews, the Book of Abraham, Polygamy was God’s idea, Gay people choose to be gay, and so on).
The A group won’t care, they’ll believe anything, it’s easier for this group to not ask questions. This is the current base of the I-15 Mormons.
The B group will argue about the origin of former teachings for a while, but will eventually give up (because their belief is based on God-sent feelings).
The C group will not feel like they were deceived and have wasted a portion of their lives on something that can’t be what it was advertised to be.