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Why do some Mormons become atheists?

By Eric Johnson

Check out a 2-part Viewpoint on Mormonism series that originally aired February 24-25, 2014  Part 1  Part 2  (Blog)

The question as to why some Mormons become atheist is being asked as many Latter-day Saints are leaving their church. In the past decade, growth of church membership is at its lowest percentages in years. Meanwhile, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not give out information about how many people are asking to be taken off the church rolls, there has definitely been an increase since 2013 when the Gospel Topics Essays were first getting published. We have found many Latter-day Saints who became disgruntled when they discovered that information they may have always denied was actually true.

For many Mormons, there is a common saying: “If the Church is not true, then nothing else is.” The background behind this quote is that Latter-day Saints have been taught that there was a “Great Apostasy” and that the Christian churches could not be true because their people lacked the restored authority given to Joseph Smith. Hence, if Mormonism isn’t true, then Christianity would still be wrong and there is nowhere to turn.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the classic case of throwing the “baby out with the bathwater.” Just because Mormonism isn’t true does not mean that God doesn’t exist, that Jesus came to save His people from their sins, and there is such a thing as ultimate truth.

While it seems that far too many former Mormons are headed to atheism or, at best, agnosticism, it doesn’t have to be that way. We recommend that someone leaving Mormonism read the New Testament, take a look at the information readily available discussing this issue, and see if there really is a God who cares about people.

If you are an ex-Mormon who has lost all faith, why not look deeper into this topic? Get a Bible that is more readable than the King James Version, the official translation of the LDS Church. Perhaps pick up some Christian books that describe why believing in God makes sense. (For some recommendations, go here.) Understand what Christianity has to offer before heading into a belief that God probably or even definitely doesn’t exist.

Here are some resources that might be helpful:

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