Here’s an online article at The Verge that you should read: The Mormon Church vs. The Internet. Let me summarize it in a few words:
- Mormons make good neighbors.
- Unless you are an Ex-Mormon, then it’s completely different.
- Exiting the Church is a traumatic experience for most people.
A few highlights from the article. There’s this quote from FDR, in a letter to Churchill: “I have a very high opinion of the Mormons — for they are excellent citizens.” I wonder what Winston Churchill, noted for his withering ripostes, muttered under his breath on reading that line. Maybe nothing, as there were thousands of Latter-day Saints in the armed forces fighting alongside the British.
See if you can spot the new word in this paragraph:
In recent years, the Church has been embattled by the efficiency of the internet. It’s never been easier to stumble across information that contradicts the pillars of faith. That’s true for many religions but especially Mormonism, which has a very recent history. Where the unsavory specifics of an older faith’s origins may have been eroded by time, reduced to a handful of too-old-to-question texts and some shriveled relics, the early years of Mormonism are well-documented and easily examined online. The internet has also given Mormons new platforms, from forums to podcasts, where they can share their findings. The result has been a mass undoctrination.
Undoctrination. Now there’s a word we have needed for a few years. Once upon a time the Bloggernacle talked about “inoculation.” The idea was that by incorporating some treatment of difficult historical and doctrinal matters into the LDS curriculum, the membership and particularly younger members would be less likely to go ballistic as a result of stumbling onto that information from other sources. The Gospel Topics Essays and the new Saints historical volumes seem to adopt that approach, but they waited too long. Instead of inoculation, what younger Mormons are getting is undoctrination. They cruise the Internet for information long before they search LDS.org (where the Essays aren’t easy to find) or slog through the four volumes of Saints. I think Internet Undoctrination is the biggest challenge the Church is facing right now.
The balance of the article features discussion of the Exmormon subreddit, Quitmormon, unbaptized children of record, and Kirton McConkie, along with responses from a variety of disaffected or departed Mormons.
Normally I throw out a prompt to spur productive discussion in the comments. This time I’ll just invite you to respond to something in the essay that catches your interest. If you find nothing in the article that’s very interesting, maybe you’re reading the wrong blog.