Ever heard of William Lobdell? Probably not. But you should now, because I found this article wonderful and fascinating.
Lobdell is the author of Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace
Some of you may be wondering why I am reading articles and books about a guy who lost his Christian faith. I am a seminary student, right? How is this article going to strengthen my faith? Well, it’s not and it didn’t. But what it did do was offer me insight into what those who’ve lost their faith go through, and that’s always a fascinating topic. And the subject of our broken and fallen world is always an interesting topic, especially regarding the Catholic Church abuse scandals. Lodbell had the religion beat at the LA Times when the stories first broke.
The article is long, but absolutely worth it. Here’s a taste:
In late 2001, I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend a conference of former Mormons. These people lived mostly in the Mormon Jell-O belt – Utah, Idaho, Arizona – so-named because of the plates of Jell-O that inevitably appear at Mormon gatherings.
They found themselves ostracized in their neighborhoods, schools and careers. Often, they were dead to their own families.
“If Mormons associate with you, they think they will somehow become contaminated and lose their faith too,” Suzy Colver told me. “It’s almost as if people who leave the church don’t exist.”
The people at the conference were an eclectic bunch: novelists and stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and cartoonists, sex addicts and alcoholics. Some were depressed, others angry, and a few had successfully moved on. But they shared a common thread: They wanted to be honest about their lack of faith and still be loved.
In most pockets of Mormon culture, that wasn’t going to happen.
Part of what drew me to Christianity were the radical teachings of Jesus – to love your enemy, to protect the vulnerable and to lovingly bring lost sheep back into the fold.
As I reported the story, I wondered how faithful Mormons – many of whom rigorously follow other biblical commands such as giving 10% of their income to the church – could miss so badly on one of Jesus’ primary lessons?
As a side note… I’ve already been in two arguments in class with students more conservative than me. This is going to be an interesting two years.