Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
'Jack Mormons' Speak Out: Author Finds Many Who Have Left Church Still Feel Some Pull
Salt Lake Tribune 27Nov99 P6
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- James W. Ure's soon to be published book,
Leaving the Fold: Candid Conversations With Inactive Mormons, exposes
political, doctrinal and personal issues as the reasons people give
for leaving the Mormon faith. Ure acknowledges that his study is
purely anecdotal and personal, not scientific. He embarked on this
project to determine his own place in the social landscape of
Ure affectionately calls the people he interviewed "Jack Mormons" and
said that for the most part they respect and admire the church and its
members. "There's a hint of disappointment and longing, as if they're
searching for a promised ideal not yet achieved, perhaps ironically the
result of the idealization and perfection taught them by the church,"
Ure had three criteria for people to be included in his study. They
had to be members of the church, not excommunicated, disfellowshipped or
having asked to have their names removed. The had to have been active
at one time but were no longer attending church regularly or paying
tithing. He chose to exclude Mormons who "regularly and vigorously
foment against the church". "This is not anti-Mormon work," he writes.
"Its purpose from the beginning is to create and foster understanding."
Some of Ure's conclusions dovetailed with Elder Ben Banks of the First
Quorum of Seventy when he spoke at General Conference reporting research
from the church. "Almost all less-active members interviewed believed
that God exists, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a
prophet, and that the church is true," Elder Banks said.
"The most common reasons given (for not attending church) were:
feelings of unworthiness, personal or family problems, parents or spouse
were less active, teen-age rebelliousness or laziness, conflicts with
work schedules, church too far away, lacked transportation," Banks said.
Utah pollster Dan Jones said 69 percent of Utahns are Mormon with 55
percent being very active, 20 percent claiming some activity and 25
percent saying they are inactive. Of the 2 million who reside in the
state of Utah, 1.4 million are Mormons. Of those 1.4 million, 770,000
are active, 280,000 are somewhat active and 350,000 are inactive.
Women seemed to be the most angry of all the people Ure spoke to.
"Every one of them felt excluded and angry," he said. Many cited the
church's opposition to the Equal Rights Ammendment and the traditional
roles of women. Betty Condie, Associate Executive Director of Utah
Education Association, said, "I remember exactly what caused me to start
consciously questioning Mormonism." "It was reading The Feminine
Mystique by Betty Friedan." "I started thinking about the church's
stand on women and the church's stand on blacks. I said to myself, 'I
don't think God is a chauvanist and I don't think he's a racist.'"
Condie's new found feminism eventually cost her marriage. "My
inactivity...basically was the end of it," she said.
Ure is a descendant of Mormon pioneers and was raised in a devout LDS
home. However, he moved away from the church and its teachings.
"Complex feelings of exclusion came early to me, and I didn't feel I
could live up to the standards of perfection articulated by church
leaders," said Ure in the book's preface. Ure soon surrounded himself
with friends who were fleeing Mormonism. "With a head full of Mormonism
and a heart empty of faith, I found rebellion replacing a sense of
unworthiness." "I remembered feelings of disdain, hostility,
arrogance, and defiance." But Ure also recalled "the love of many active
Mormon friends and relatives.