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I think the "Nones" are a bit more complex than Rosalynde suggests. (Going by the summaries since I wasn't there) Only 37% self-designate as "spiritual but not religious." The Pew study shows fewer atheists/agnostics in the Nones than the ARIS survey. In fact the two studies differ in some interesting ways. As I've argued before the Pew study on Mormon has some statistics I find pretty hard to swallow so I use them with caution. The ARIS study had only 27% of Nones believing in some semblance of a personal god. WIth atheists/agnostics being 42% and deists being an additional 24%.

It is interesting getting perspectives from people who withdrew from membership and then returned. The presenters at the FAIR conference conspicuously did not appear to include people who were "prideful dissenters", people who think they are smarter than the average Mormon and embrace their apostacy as a badge of their greater intelligence and sophistication, whether they then become atheists or "Christians" or Fundamentalist Mormons. If their self-image is rooted in pride in their superior knowledge, I am happy they decided to leave rather than implement their pride in a Mormon context, becoming the kind of person who chases others out of the Church.

No doubt there are real Mormons who have a faith crisis because of difficulties accepting some of the less widely understood facts of Church history, while others have problems accepting the obvious things about being Mormon (including the emphasis on seeking a spiritual witness). I think those who come to their bishop or to people at FAIR are sincerely questioning and not acting out of a gulty conscience.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who depart from living Mormon moral standards, sometimes hypocritically while maintaining a facade of faithfulness, who do in fact lose the ability to receive personally convincing revelation because of their persistence in sin. Their after the fact justification for their immorality often cites the same kinds of intellectual arguments put forward by others, but such concerns were not the initial reason for their moral lapse. The path back for folks in that category is different.

I think you are right, RTS. Some who exit the Church have a one-way ticket -- they know and we know they're never coming back. But others exit for reasons or issues that might work themselves out one way or another after a few years, and sometimes these people then come back.

Interesting to contrast Sunstone panels (smart people explain why they stay) with FAIR panels (smart people explain why they came back).

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