Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Loosing faith because of the Internet

Stories like the one below have become common.  I've heard surprisingly high estimates of the numbers of those leaving the church or going inactive because of exposure to troubling information on the Internet.  The following illustrates this phenomena.

Excerpts of Why I Chucked My Mormon Faith and Became an Atheist by Ted Cox, AlterNet
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...As a lifelong Mormon, I understood that the church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., was martyred by an armed mob in a jail cell in Carthage, Ill. But something I read in a magazine article and later researched online told me I didn't have the whole story. ...
I was about to join the record numbers of young Americans who are lose their faith each year ... we're leaving because we've discovered that when it comes to biology, geography and history, our conservative pastors and holy texts are dead wrong. It's important to recognize the role that the Internet plays in our abandoning doctrine for disbelief.
My own story highlights the role that technology and information play in my transition from faith to atheism. ...
I was the first of seven children to two Brigham Young University students. The day I was born, my mother opened up a copy of the Book of Mormon ....
...a smaller piece of information ... that angry mob burst into Smith's jail cell, he raised a gun and fired back. 
Wait, a gun? What gun?
Nobody had ever told me about Smith carrying a gun. I had been a faithful church member all my life. I attended Sunday School almost every Sunday for over two decades. Why hadn't I heard about this gun before?
Let me clarify something: It didn't bother me that Smith had a gun or that he fired back. Hell, can you blame the guy? What bothered me was that this significant detail had been omitted in every version of the story I had heard since childhood.
... as I spent hours at my school's Internet stations preparing for each lesson, I discovered more bits of information that my church had kept out of the official manuals.  ....
The omissions piled up. Little by little, a pattern emerged: church leaders were hiding embarrassing information. Anything that painted Joseph Smith in a bad light -- besides, you knowing, claiming to have seen God and Jesus when he was 14 years old -- got scrubbed from the official, approved history. After just a few months of research, my faith was suddenly in crisis.
But I found more than information online. Quickly I discovered forums where other doubters struggled with the information they found. As I the read the questions had about Mormon history and doctrine, I soon realized I wasn't crazy.
...The number of websites telling a more complete story of Mormonism's early years has exploded. ....

2 comments:

Todd Jumper said...

Perhaps if the church just stops denying their true history, stop water feeding (they are not even milk feeding anymore) People are more ready for the truth than the church lets on. They treat humans like stupid cattle depending on mushy gushy promptings. If the manifestations of the holy Ghost are real, which I beleive they are, the truth is going to hold up to the test of fire, internet, or anything else.

Anonymous said...

I believe the church needs to become more liberalized and step away from literal latter-day saint traditional interpretations, and move more towards looking for meaning and metaphor that can lead to more charitable lives -- as well as embracing its past more fully.

And Todd, you're right. If the Holy Ghost is real, then we don't need to define the spirit as over emotionalism; but rather trust that it will manifest itself, even in the face of uncorrelated truth.