A “Mass Exodus?” Digging a Little Deeper

Mass Exodus

I woke up to headline blaring “Thousands of Mormons are Leaving the Church Over New Gay Apostate Policy.”  Another spoke of the thousands and told of a “Mass Resignation Event” scheduled for this Saturday.

Rough stuff. The kind of stuff that makes your heart sick.

I looked a little deeper, and it is true. There are 1,200 people signed up in a Facebook group who plan on resigning from the Church on Saturday in Salt Lake.

Then I looked a little deeper to try and find out more about those 1,200 people. I didn’t have to look far. Someone in the group had already asked the question:

“How many of us are considered by LDS Standards to be “Active” members?

So far, 734 people responded, which is a pretty good sampling of a group of 1,200. Better than half.  I pieced together the results and they look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.16.37 AM

A couple of things stick out:

• There are more people planning to resign (4%) who aren’t really even members of the church than who are weekly-attending members (3%). So there is an share of deception involved.

• 83% of the people “resigning” are ALREADY inactive, or have ALREADY resigned from the church. Making the whole agenda, and accompanying media storm a bit disingenuous.

• This is not a scientific survey, so there are obviously many other people involved, but it is a good enough sampling to get an idea of the current stance of many of them.

So, when you see the hype about the thousands leaving the church, take a deep breath. It is not necessarily what it appears to be. 3% does not make for an exiting headline, nor does it drive an agenda.  So you don;t have to worry about walking into church on Sunday and finding the chapel half empty.


On a more somber note, it is tragic when anyone wants to leave the church. In the survey, 3% of those who plan to resign attend every week, and another 2% that attend monthly. That is 5%. It is too many. One is too many..

…especially if that one is someone you love.

A lot of our brothers and sisters are heartsick over this new policy and its ramifications. My hope is that they work through those struggles within the church. I don’t like the wheat vs. tares metaphor in this instance. I don’t like the idea of wheat becoming self-extracting tares.

I want my brothers and sisters to stick around, and keep marching down the path together, even when it is difficult.

I hope people pull back, and not respond in the heat of the moment by walking away – especially when so much hype and disinformation is being spread. Sometimes things take time to process and understand. And even if we understand and disagree, sometimes it takes time to determine a wise course of action.

President Uchtdorf gave a Conference talk a couple of years ago where he addressed those who are contemplating leaving. Quoting from the Gospel of John her said,

“I am reminded of a time in the Savior’s life when many abandoned Him.  Jesus asked His twelve disciples:

“Will ye also go away?

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

There are times when we have to answer the same question. Will we also go away? Or will we, like Peter, hold fast to the words of eternal life?” (link)

I recommend re-reading that talk (Come Join With Us) in the context of this past week. I also recommend that we pray for those who are planning on walking away from the Gospel, that their hearts might be made soft, and that WE can have softer hearts as we deal with those who are struggling.



Note:  My post last week about “Church Announcements and Two Wolves” ended up being my most read, and shared, post since I began blogging. I was surprised, but it shows how important the topic has been this past week.

Another Note: I haven’t decided if I am going to open up the comments for this. But I do know that if I do, I will be very selective, and my blog will not serve as a soapbox to bash the church.


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  1. In contemplating my own faith, if I choose a course of mote searching, I will find what I’m looking for. And that ultimately leads to the confrontation you note: “will ye also go away?” Pride will say “yes,” and I will ignore Peter’s humble response. I choose the whole, unswayed by the headline.

  2. I’ve skimmed a few discussions attached to “news” articles. Yes, my first internal reaction was to “fight back” or “set the record straight.” To be angry and to defend the gentlemen whom I know follow divine instruction and do so with only the best intentions and with love and kindness. But as I read the comments that increasingly became hostile on both sides, I realized that this contention removes possibly the only thing that could soften the hearts of those who are angry and heal the hearts of those who mourn for their loved ones choices. The Spirit cannot touch either side of the argument if we are angry and contentious in our responses. Christ, in his last days and in his last words showed forgiveness, spoke with out contempt and set an example for us in how we should respond to those who ridicule and show contemp for us. If we feel the prompting to share our testimony on social media, then I hope we can do so with the spirit of Christ and remember not to be baited into an argument.

  3. I find the level of kool-aid drinking …blah, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… Muslim extremists.

    (Comment edited for brevity and clarity)

  4. Very well written. We all need to remember who we are when dealing with these difficult issues. That we are all children of our Heavenly Father as well as brothers and sisters to each other and we should treat each other as such with love, compassion and understanding. We cannot force our opinions upon each other, if this happens we will lose freedoms we cherish. We must listen to the spirit and pray to God for personal revelation of what is right. We CAN love one another and still have our beliefes.

  5. You really think that the children of gay couples would be condemned by Jesus? Seriously?? The Mormon church can’t collapse fast enough for me. And it will. You are just a bunch of bigots and hypocrites. Wake up. That’s not what Jesus would do

    1. This comment is SO exciting for two reasons!

      First, apparently you have access to some TOP SECRET information showing that children will be condemned which contradicts every policy, announcement, statement or doctrine regarding the issue. You truly have remarkable access.

      Second, it is SO cool that you know what Jesus would do. Who knew? All this time I thought Jesus revealed his mind to the prophets – but no! YOU can do the job. Maybe you should start a church, or write a book called, “Inside Jesus’ Brain.”

      Thank you so much for calling us names and waking us up to our folly, because, apparently, that’s what Jesus would do.

  6. Always ask Father what I need to do, might take a month or more, but I testify to you this day that He will answer your prayer. Then ask for further Ligh and Knowledge, may take seveal times on yur kneews to get there.

  7. I left in 1993. I left feeling angry but knowing that I felt I didn’t measure up to the standards the Church had set. I wasn’t inclined to be stuck as a primary teachers, wasn’t ready to do visiting teaching, give up my word of wisdom failures and not inclined to feel like the outsider because I wasn’t a true blue Mollie Mormon. I’M baaaaaaack. I realised that my theology, my social standards and my way of life are LDS. I kept reading anti church stuff and saying ” Wait,Mormons don’t believe that!” When I found myself saying “We” I knew it was time to come home. These people are sort of like that Well, ok… I didn’t flounce, I just went quietly into the night. This need to make a big production signals that the majority of these folks know they are wrong. What kills me are the ones that left the church when I did who cannot leave it behind. A good friend left 30 years ago. His son wasn’t even born til 10 years later but he insists that somehow church policy hurts him. For the past week every post on his social media is about this. I am convinced thy are all trying to justify leaving. Sadly it won’t improve their lives. It just leaves you bitter and unsatisfied. Sadly I don’t believe when faced with lgbtxyz issues they are really all that tolerant . It’s a bandwagon . A moral footstamping. And a way to stop facing responsibility for your actions. In other words rebellion against all your parents held dear. (And dont we all have parent issues in these days of pop psychology)It also makes you look cool to be a victim these days

  8. I see that my comment challenging assertions on this post did not see the light of day. I am sorry that you refuse to hear from those on the other team. So much for the empathy you profess to have for those who have left.

    1. I have sympathy, not empathy. Your self-description as being “on the other side” validates my decision to not post your comment.

  9. So of the 1200 facebookers who “signed up” to resign (the number who showed up was less), 240 of them were apostates who had already been excommunicated or resigned before. We often see the same faces at these kinds of events. People who have resigned multiples times show up every time they get the chance to have their names appear in the media. Of the rest, only 60 claimed to be regular monthly attenders, and that claim may be exaggerated.

    Yeah, sounds about right. When the tide of trial comes up… the deadwood floats away.

  10. The Church did not bring us to this point. The worldly and their tolerance for sin did. And they are outraged that our response has been a refusal to accommodate. It has ever been thus. And we mourn.

  11. I know this is Christ’s Church, and He speaks through the Prophet. I’m with whatever he says.

  12. Hearing all the fuss on Facebook we were prepared for the worse here with non-member friends. Although our paper proudly published the goings on prominently not a single thing has been mentioned to us. Can this just be a Utah fuss that is being made?

  13. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

    35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

    Luke 2:34-35

    The gospel path isn’t always easy and our hearts break for those who turn away. Sometimes it is a painful path on which the thoughts of our hearts are revealed. There are many scriptures that prophesy of the challenges we and those we love face in our day. It is comforting to know that all of this has been seen by the prophets and to know that though many will fall, because of Christ many will rise again.

  14. On a different note….I am a Senior Sister who entered the MTC a month ago and am now serving in Zagreb, Croatia (Adriatic North Mission). I have MISSED your posts during that time. So today I had an opportunity to catch up, and what a feast it has been! I am delighted and enlightened by your messages. Just thought you might like one example of your reach. Happy 1,000th. I believe I have read almost all of them through the years and look forward to many more.

  15. This is a great post…I like how you did a little semi scientific, or would it be pseudo scientific survey?
    I can tell you for certain that this is bigger than the FB group of people signing up to resign. There is a lawyer on Reddit who helps people resign and he personally has already processed 1500, and those aren’t part of the FB thing.
    I read about an entire family who is resigning, the Father is a SP, they have a Gay son and they can’t live with this situation evidently.
    One is too many!
    Thank you for sharing your view on the wheat and tares metaphor that has been going around, none of us gets a special license to judge anyone over this and I feel like that is being missed. People are hurting, people are heart sick over this, some feel like their lives have been turned upside down. This is a time to not judge and comfort, that is my take. Thank you for sharing this MMM.

    1. I don’t doubt that there are more resigning. But I expect that the vast majority are already inactive, or have long since renounced the church – and very few are strongly ensconced in the actual gospel. But it is still sad.

  16. Thank you for a well researched article. I love the comments people have made; it makes me feel good to know how many share my sentiments: The Church is true. Once that fact is established in my mind nothing else matters.

  17. My son, now 25, “resigned” his membership about five years ago. Totally broke our hearts, but then didn’t Jesus say in the New Testament that some who followed him would lose their families. The choice is ours. My husband and I made the conscious decision to come even closer and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ even more than in the past. My son has not come back and is further from our family than ever, but I have not stopped loving him and I have hope because I know that life is eternal and so are families. I still have three of my four children who have been through the temple and are active in the church, including my youngest son on a mission. My heart breaks for the families going through this, but ultimately, even though we may be part of an eternal family, the choice to “come unto Christ” and embrace His gospel and the church is an individual decision we each make every day. Thank you for this post that puts everything in perspective.

  18. I loved the “Come Join With Us” talk. Unfortunately, more and more I find myself asking, “Is there really a place for me?” While I am not part of the “mass exodus” I just became a little more inactive. It’s a heartbreaking struggle for many.

  19. Thank you for your kind, loving and thoughtful post. it can be so easy to get riled up, or very defensive. You did neither. I admit, if this policy had been suggested by just another member, I would not support it, so at first I was torn. But then I thought about my faith. I know this is Christ’s church, and that the Prophet speaks for him. It may not make sense to me, but I cannot claim to know those things and then scream and yell about the words we receive from the First Presidency.

  20. I remember last year with the Ordain Women movement and Kate Kelly’s excommunication, there were a lot of comments of “Good. I’m glad they’re gone.” I’m very grateful to NOT see that happening with this issue – I’ve not seen that even one time.

  21. Very interesting statistics, indeed. I appreciated the further explanation the Church put out today. I love this Church, I love this gospel…These are tough times, and I know where I am standing.

  22. Over many years I have heard such things as “If so-and-so becomes the next prophet, I’ll have to leave the Church.” It’s like there’s a line drawn in their minds as to which happenings would suddenly prove to them that the Church is untrue.
    Also over many years, I have had my moments of weakness where I have wondered if the Church is “truly true”. And the answer is always, “If the Church isn’t true; if there isn’t actually a living prophet on the earth; if Joseph Smith made the whole thing up — then there is nothing to cling to anywhere.” So I shove those weak feelings down and carry on. Then I read some particular scripture, re-read a particular conference talk, or find someone discussing my problem on-line or in a Church book. My faith becomes stronger again, and i can push Satan’s lies away. In recent times, my favorite way to deal with his fakery is just to realize who’s talking to me and say aloud, “Just go away, Satan! Leave me alone!” If you can hang in there long enough, you have time and opportunity to find out what’s really happening.

  23. If I knew how far you lived from Mesa, I’d come down and kiss you. Excellent post. Excellent!! All this stuff upsets me and sometimes I think…am I the only one defending the church? I quit Facebook because all of the bashing of a church that I love and respect more than anything. I decided I didn’t need all of these kind of news articles in my life to keep me in a wreck. And it works! Thank you.

  24. Well written and insightful. I agree that while one is too many , an understanding of the parable of the vineyard leads us to see that the pruning of the vineyard is both requisite and expected.. but still it brings the Lord of the vineyard and His servants great pains. While it is a hard and painful experience and process in the here and now to remove bitter fruit, the pruning provides new growth and sweeter fruit. This new growth and sweeter fruit is manifest both collectively in the vineyard proper as well as in the individual trees. Several years ago I was that “one”, but I have become so grateful for the pruning I received and the sweet fruit now enjoyed. Thank you again for your insights.

  25. Regarding the new Church policy concerning children of married homosexual parents:

    It is wonderful to know that so many people value Church membership so passionately, even those disaffected by and aganst the Church! This could be really good news!

    Why are those already outside or disaffected by the Church so upset about the new policy? It begs the question that ths uproar could really be about encouraging believing members to leave the Church.

    True Anti-Mormons should be ecstatic that fewer innocent children will be “brainwashed” against their parents lifestyle.

    For me, this policy shows great respect for parental values, authority, and the strength of families. The obvious conflicting values of married homosexual parents and the values of God taught by the Church should not sow confusion in the lives of under-aged children. Living with conflicting moral values is very confusing to children and affects their lives very negatively. This I know!

  26. You did a good job of pointing out that many are already “gone”. My niece is throwing a fit and resigning but she doesn’t really believe it anyway and never goes. Maybe this will be a period some can cool off and realize what they are missing.

  27. I think you handled this delicate issue well and your sincerity came through. I have no issue with the statement from the Church, I am still saddened and surprised by those that take issue.

  28. Excellent analysis — thank you for the perspective.

    The Mormon Newsroom just published an instructional letter to local priesthood leaders for more context, which hopefully will put to rest some of the inflammatory rhetoric.


    And thank you for the calm, loving thoughts for those struggling. While I am not worried over this particular issue, I am not so arrogant as to think there won’t ever be an issue or question which will cause me strain or suffering. I hope then I will practice what I am preaching now.

  29. Interesting typo: “On a more somber note, it is tragic when anyone wants to lead the church.” Not only do we have people planning to leave, but there are also a number who are seeking to ‘steady the ark’ and tell the Prophet how the church should be run.

  30. Beautiful thoughts. I agree, the wheat and tares phrase people often use is so final when in reality, we want and hope and pray for them to come back. Again, great post. Thank you 🙂

  31. Thanks for the perspective. It is heart breaking. It is ashamed more people have not taken the time to understand that the church really did this for the welfare of the children.

  32. Hello, thank you for this article, particularly the 2nd half. I am an EQP and had one of my quorum members call me to announce that he was heartbroken over the new policy, and while not leaving the church for sure, he requested that I remove him from home teaching until he can sort this out in his mind. He was also going to request that his calling (SS teacher for youth) be suspended. He wasn’t doing this in a beligerent way at all… he was his way of saying “I don’t feel right presenting myself as a representative of the church right now.” But upon further discussion, it was clear his understanding of the new policies was signficiantly different than the actual policies. His takeaway was that church members were to no longer associate with people in same-gender relationships, including family members. After an hour of emotional discussion, I got him to at least understand that we (as Mormons) extend love to and welcome all people with open arms. It is true that we place qualification on membership, but we welcome and love all. But even still, his emotional state was so charged that he needed more time to process. None of this is to minimize the feelings of those who have bad feelings–but I think your advice to wait, learn, and remain in the church environment while doing so is sound advice.

  33. My stepson is one of those thinking about leaving, breaks my heart.
    I’ve had a couple people at work talking about the policy and not fully understanding the reason, I gave them a bit of the reasoning behind it and they went away with a little more understanding and acceptance. May we pray that all will find answers to the questions.
    As for my son, please pray for him and all the others.

  34. Reading from 3 Nephi on the train this morning and I just love the examples of Lachoneus and Gidgiddoni. We don’t hear enough about them. They were heroes and managed to keep the Church together during a time of mass apostasy and threats from without. Whenever I read Giddianhi’s letter to Lachoneus I am struck by how negative propaganda is used still in our time, on small and large scales. Words are powerful. Keep using them for good, MMM.

  35. Well written. I agree with your findings. I always think about those who left the church for some reason or another. It is sad. But I have to wonder what brought them to that point? I mean they must have been happy with the church at one time. What changed? I would submit it is they who changed. They lost their light, or testimony. Or perhaps even never had a testimony but they used borrowed light.

    I am sorry for their decisions and wish them all the happiness that life can offer them.

    1. …You re right on point, they were living with a borrowed light(testimony). The adversary is working tirelessly to deprive them of the little light in them so as to devour them with ease. An African proverb say ‘the illness that ll kill the dog must first destroy its sense of smell’ so that it ll not be able to detect poison and ll eat of it that ll lead to its eventual death. I wish they ll remember how it all started.

  36. My hope is that those who actually love the church, but are considering leaving, step back and take a look at what is being said and why. I would hope that they are considering that the Brethren are trying to uphold the Proclamation of the Family and support all families, even if we disagree with how that family is structured.

    Too many people look at this as a discrimination measure instead of actually thinking about the covenants involved and the eternal nature.

  37. Our attendance last Sunday was considerably larger than usual. W e are constantly seeing people who once were gone on their own, excommunicated, or less active, coming back!

  38. Right before I saw your post I had a “chuckle” over the “thousands” but then told myself that even one was too many. Imagine my surprise to immediately read your post confirming my own thoughts. Thankfully you voice then much better than me and you did the homework too. Thanks for the breakdown of the FB info. It is a difficult issue and one I am sure the leaders struggled with. This is one of those times when I really see that we are all CHILDREN of God, as that’s been the response–people getting very upset, wanting things their way and not considering the other viewpoint–Heavenly Father’s. Parental decisions are not always easy and often unpopular…at least that was my experience. Nevertheless I was always right when it came down to the big decisions and my grown children see the bigger picture now and hopefully have forgiven me.;) With this current situation I pray that individuals who are struggling will look at the bigger, eternal picture, pray sincerely for confirmation and feed the wolf of faith for someday it will all make better sense. Thank you!!!!

  39. I am in tears reading this.I feel so sad about those that are upset and hurting, a few close to me. I just keep talking and crying with my husband. I don’t want them to go. I pray for peace and in time understanding for them. A friend that has recently left the church, posted something about wheat and tares today. I don’t see it so much as that right now. I feel for many, this is just part of their path, and Heavenly Father will help them find their way back in time, and I pray for myself to know how best to be understanding and helpful and not add to the hurt. But I do feel inadequate to the task some hours. Sometimes I get so upset when I see the dishonesty in articles. One article mentioned power hungry church leaders. It made me simultaneously angry and hurt because I have a lot of my own challenges, and sometimes all that can south my soul is to listen to Conference talks. I am so thankful for inspired leaders who will not lead the church astray, and for the confirming wisperings of the Holy Ghost that help me stay aloft. My biggest wish is for my family to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary. I hate to see all of this happening. It just crushes me.

  40. Too bad many people can’t exercise their agency quietly, instead of making a mountain out of nothing!

  41. Thank you, MMM, for being a voice of reason in these tumultuous times. There is no question where your loyalty lies, but there is also love for those who may not agree or are struggling at this time. Truly an example of what Christ would do.

  42. Thank you. sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees and the last week or so it has seemed all I have read or seen in the various medias are the trees and not the complete forest of stalwart members reaching for the sunshine. Hopefully we can find a way to allow the light of the Savior to shine down the those needing it.

  43. This makes me think of Elder Ballard’s talk this past conference…Staying in the Old Ship Zion (part 2)

  44. I love the statistics on this. I believe that one is too many also. I explained this recently to a family member. She is also a member, but very up in arms. I told her to be still. To remember it’s not just about gays. It’s also about polygamy, amongst other practices. We don’t want to confuse what these children are taught at home. I urged her to think, ponder and pray. So she can know for herself.

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