The “Offended Out of the Church” Myth

The lesson in Relief Society and Priesthood today was on Forgiveness. This lesson always goes to a place that makes me cringe. A hand is raised…

“Most often, people leave the church because of something someone said or did that offended them…”

That is verbatim from my lesson today. Another hand raised…

“I pity them. How SAD it is that their testimony isn’t strong enough for them overcome what someone said. They are missing out on an eternity of blessings because they just could not forgive.”

Double cringe.

A survey was done of over 3,000  “Mormons who, having once held firm belief in the Church, subsequently lose that belief in part or whole.” Of this study only 4% said that being offended was their strongest reason for leaving the church. The majority of people who leave, this survey found, was for doctrinal issues. The entire survey can be found here:

Did you get that? FOUR PER CENT. Four.

People want to believe that people who leave only do it because their testimonies aren’t strong enough to handle the occasional jerk who says or does something offensive. Why? Because it scares people to know that there are issues with the doctrine that could be big enough to claim even the best of saints. It’s easier to believe that people who leave are bitter, hateful and angry.

Losing faith, losing testimony, falling away, whatever you want to call it is found across religions. I’m not sure though, if the stigma is as harsh other places as it is within the church. You hear it  A LOT: “Molly’s son FELL AWAY. It’s so sad!”  Members don’t understand how terrible this sounds. It makes the person who left sound like they are less. It makes them feel like they are less. That there’s something wrong with them because they couldn’t just stay true to the church. This is not true!

For me personally, the people of the church are the reason I still go. The members, for the most part (including the people who said the things above, they just don’t know better…)are wonderful people. They are caring. They are charitable. I love the members of the church.  I have had horrific things said to me on my other blog by members of the church. These things STUNG even more than you could imagine. But people are people.

I believe in forgiveness, too.