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Dave, at the last national SBL meeting, I actually attended a session on self-identity crisis among ex-Mormons. It was very illuminating. The gist of the paper was that for Mormons, such an enormous sense of validation and identity stems from their Mormonism, that once they decide to leave, or are told that they have to leave by the church, they are stripped of something that previously made up an overwhelming majority of the percentage of their personalities. This can cause major psychological problems for the one exiting the church because the psychological "identity vacuum" that needs to be filled is immense and can't be filled overnight or without some form of support system. Speaking hypothetically, we might assume that the religion of the average church member is, say, 80% of their self-identity - take that away, and we now have a very high propensity for depression, despair, anxiety, and other psychological problems that stem from removing something so foundational to the normal function of the human brain - the self-identity.

I applaud these groups, because the number of people leaving the church seems to me to have increased in the last few years, and these people need a place they can go for support.

That said, I believe I recall D. Michael Quinn has lectured in the past on where and what ex-Mos can do to alleviate some of the mental problems that are concomitant with leaving the Mormon church. It might have been about 4 years ago or so - perhaps someone knows were to find those talks?

I sort of made a mistake above. It was a AAR meeting, but up until this year, AAR and SBL have been meeting concurrently. I only said SBL because I'm a member of the SBL, even though I was free to attend AAR sessions. Believe me, exegetes don't really sit around and discuss Mormonism unless it's colloquial.

David J., those are interesting comments. There are some who exit the Church in a huff, but also those who exit in confusion and some who exit in utter despair. So while I was a bit lighthearted in my comments on the article, I wasn't really being dismissive. Amazing AAR would have a session on the topic.

What really got my attention about the article was that the Deseret News (!!) didn't try to marginalize or minimize the topic, it played it straight, without even a follow-up comment by some LDS spokesperson or official to downplay the problem or emphasize that the LDS Church is of course in no way responsible for their difficulties. I wonder what sort of letters to the editor will come in about this article?

because the number of people leaving the church seems to me to have increased in the last few years

What do you base this assertion on David J? Are there stats to support it or are you perhaps just more aware of people who are leaving the church now (while the rate is the same as it has always been)?

According to president Hinckley, retention has actually improved over the last 10 years or so. (last conference, though no statswere given)

I hate to point out the obvious, but since the absolute number of active Mormons has increased considerably over the last, say, thirty years, the absolute number of people exiting the Church (who were previously active in the Church) will have gone up by the same percentage, assuming the rate of exit stays constant (which seems like a reasonable assumption). Nothing sinister, just statistics.

They probably network better now.

Geoff, I've read that somewhere, but honestly, I don't recall just exactly where. I remember the article mentioning that since 1995, we've been having growth problems and "exit" problems. (Side note: curiously, the internet might have something to do with this, but I'm only speculating). If you feel like being frisky/intrepid, you might want to try to Google the article.

And I've often thought that Deseretnews had a bone to pick. I lived in Utah 10 years ago, and I remember people complaining about its portrayal of anything Mormon. Are we suggesting that the "norm" for the DN is to report positively about the church?

David J.,
"are we suggesting that the norm for the DN is to report positively about the church?"
Does a bear do the things bears do in the woods?

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