The Shunning Key: Whom Mormons shun and why


The lead­ers and man­u­als of The Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints fre­quent­ly empha­size broth­er­ly love and char­i­ty to all. Con­sid­er this state­ment by Elder M. Rus­sell Ballard:

Let us reach out in friend­ship and love to our neigh­bors, includ­ing those of oth­er faiths, thus help­ing to build bet­ter fam­i­ly-to-fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships and greater har­mo­ny in our neigh­bor­hoods. Remem­ber, too often our behav­ior is a big­ger deter­rent to oth­ers than is our doc­trine. In the spir­it of love for all men, women, and chil­dren, help them to under­stand and to feel accept­ed and appre­ci­at­ed. (empha­sis added) source

Tak­en at face val­ue, this state­ment is incred­i­bly inclu­sive and lov­ing. Yet many for­mer mem­bers describe the loss of close friend­ships and asso­ci­a­tion with believ­ing mem­bers once they leave or ques­tion the Church’s truth-claims.1

In a recent pan­el dis­cus­sion an athe­ist who had heard many sto­ries of athe­ists and homo­sex­u­als being kicked out of their LDS homes (which is cer­tain­ly on the extreme end of what most for­mer mem­bers might expe­ri­ence) asked if there was any doc­tri­nal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this behav­ior (the dis­cus­sion on shun­ning begins at about 17:30):

[Athe­ist] Are you three say­ing to me that there is noth­ing in Mor­monism that pro­duces shunning? 

[BYU Pro­fes­sor 1] In my faith, there is noth­ing that I have been taught or that I teach that says that we should shun…It’s not a Mor­mon ide­al to shun 

[BYU Pro­fes­sor 2] There is noth­ing in Mor­monism that would con­done the type of behav­ior you are talk­ing about. 

So, is it pos­si­ble that Mor­mons shun?2 And how is it pos­si­ble in the face of so many inclu­sive and lov­ing mes­sages such as the one giv­en by Elder Bal­lard and those of the two BYU professors?

The Shunning Key

The key to under­stand­ing most3 shun­ning in the LDS Church is to real­ize that Lat­ter-day Saints would typ­i­cal­ly nev­er shun some­one who mere­ly left the Church or became less-active—these are the kinds of indi­vid­u­als that Church mem­bers will often reach out to. Offi­cial Lat­ter-day Saint mate­r­i­al is rich in exam­ples of mem­bers reach­ing out to less actives or those who had mere­ly wan­dered from the Gospel path (see this exam­ple).

How­ev­er, while a lost or way­ward “for­mer mem­ber” or “less-active” is not typ­i­cal­ly shunned, there are some cat­e­gories of indi­vid­u­als whom mem­bers are explic­it­ly taught to avoid: false prophets, false teach­ers (used syn­ony­mous­ly with the terms “deceivers” and “antichrists”4), and faith-killers (“apos­tate” is a term some­times used-syn­ony­mous­ly with faith-killers). These terms sound extreme—they must be a rare excep­tion, right? Who are these false prophets, false teach­ers, and faith-killers?

Flee from false teachers and false prophets

M. Rus­sell Bal­lard taught that false prophets and false teach­ers are those who (with minor word­ing changes to make a list):

  1. Declare that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a duplic­i­tous deceiver
  2. Chal­lenge the First Vision as an authen­tic experience
  3. Declare that the Book of Mor­mon and oth­er canon­i­cal works are not ancient records of scripture
  4. Attempt to rede­fine the nature of the Godhead
  5. Deny that God has giv­en and con­tin­ues to give rev­e­la­tion today to His ordained and sus­tained prophets
  6. Arro­gant­ly attempt to fash­ion new inter­pre­ta­tions of the scrip­tures to demon­strate that these sacred texts should not be read as God’s words to His chil­dren but mere­ly as the utter­ances of unin­spired men, lim­it­ed by their own prej­u­dices and cul­tur­al biases
  7. Argue that the scrip­tures require new interpretation
  8. Deny Christ’s Res­ur­rec­tion and Atone­ment, argu­ing that no God can save us
  9. Reject the need for a Savior
  10. Attempt to rein­ter­pret the doc­trines of the Church to fit their own pre­con­ceived views, and in the process deny Christ and His mes­sian­ic role
  11. Those who attempt to change the God-giv­en and scrip­tural­ly based doc­trines that pro­tect the sanc­ti­ty of mar­riage, the divine nature of the fam­i­ly, and the essen­tial doc­trine of per­son­al morality
  12. Advo­cate a rede­f­i­n­i­tion of moral­i­ty to jus­ti­fy for­ni­ca­tion, adul­tery, and homo­sex­u­al relationships
  13. Open­ly cham­pi­on the legal­iza­tion of so-called same-gen­der marriages
  14. To jus­ti­fy their rejec­tion of God’s immutable laws that pro­tect the fam­i­ly, [they] even attack the inspired procla­ma­tion on the fam­i­ly issued to the world in 1995 by the First Pres­i­den­cy and the Twelve Apostles

He goes on to warn:

Our safe­ty, our peace, lies in … flee­ing from false prophets and false teach­ers5

Shun faith-killers

In his 1981 talk Oppo­si­tion to the Work of God, Car­los E. Asay instruct­ed mem­bers6:

Avoid those who would tear­down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like can­cer and eat away the Spir­it. (empha­sis added) 

Asay doesn’t pro­vide a sim­ple list like Bal­lard, but we can walk through his talk to deter­mine the char­ac­ter­is­tics of those he labels “faith-killers”. Accord­ing to his talk (with minor word­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tion), faith-killers:

  1. Use per­son­al con­tacts, the print­ed word, elec­tron­ic media, and oth­er means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to sow doubts and to dis­turb the peace of true believers
  2. Cite changes made in Church pub­li­ca­tions over the years [to dis­cred­it Joseph Smith and sub­se­quent prophets]
  3. Do not believe in the New Tes­ta­ment because of dis­crep­an­cies in it
  4. Do not believe in mod­ern prophets and con­tin­u­ous revelation
  5. Pin their hopes for sal­va­tion upon things oth­er than those relat­ed to liv­ing prophets and liv­ing faith

What con­sti­tutes a “faith-killer” is dri­ven home in Asay’s dis­cus­sion of “a very ded­i­cat­ed apos­tate” towards the begin­ning of his address. This “ded­i­cat­ed apos­tate” did two things: “to dis­cred­it Joseph Smith and sub­se­quent prophets, the apos­tate cit­ed changes made in Church pub­li­ca­tions over the years” and the apos­tate point­ed out this infor­ma­tion to a recent convert.

How often do former members qualify?

A recent sur­vey was con­duct­ed on for­mer mem­bers to bet­ter under­stand why they left the Church. The top 5 rea­sons giv­en were:

  • I ceased to believe in the church’s doctrine/theology (74%)
  • I stud­ied church his­to­ry and lost my belief (70%)
  • I lost faith in Joseph Smith (70%)
  • I lost faith in the Book of Mor­mon (65%)
  • I lost con­fi­dence in the gen­er­al author­i­ties (50%)

If this sur­vey is at all rep­re­sen­ta­tive of for­mer Mor­mons, the major­i­ty of Mor­mons who leave do so because they do not believe in the core truth-claims of the Church any more. In addi­tion, the major­i­ty of those who dis­be­lieve (53%) now con­sid­er them­selves Agnos­tic, Athe­ist, or Humanist.

Hence a typ­i­cal for­mer Lat­ter-day Saint, if they ever open­ly dis­cuss their ratio­nale for doubt­ing the Church’s truth-claims or write any­thing online, will eas­i­ly qual­i­fy as a false prophet or false teacher. At a min­i­mum, they will like­ly be a tight fit for Ballard’s cri­te­ria #2, #3, #5, #8, #9, and they will like­ly meet all of Asay’s list char­ac­ter­iz­ing a faith-killer.

Hence, those who leave the Church because they grow tired of liv­ing the lifestyle (“lazy”) or who would rather live a dif­fer­ent lifestyle (“want­i­ng to sin”) are like­ly to be reached out to and fel­low­shipped, at least to a degree. Those who left because they inves­ti­gat­ed the truth-claims and decid­ed the truth-claims are not sus­tain­able are sus­cep­ti­ble to being clas­si­fied as “false prophets”, “false teach­ers”, or “faith-killers” (or alter­na­tive­ly, “deceiv­er”, “anti-Christ”, or “apos­tate”). Those who are will­ing and able to share why they think the Church truth-claims do not hold up, ought to be shunned—according to Bal­lard and Asay—and these con­sti­tute the major­i­ty of those who leave the LDS Church.

Shunning sleight of hand

The quote from the intro­duc­tion used as an exam­ple of inclu­siv­i­ty in LDS teach­ings was from Elder Ballard’s Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence address on false prophets and false teach­ers. I will repro­duce it here:

Let us reach out in friend­ship and love to our neigh­bors, includ­ing those of oth­er faiths, thus help­ing to build bet­ter fam­i­ly-to-fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships and greater har­mo­ny in our neigh­bor­hoods. Remem­ber, too often our behav­ior is a big­ger deter­rent to oth­ers than is our doc­trine. In the spir­it of love for all men, women, and chil­dren, help them to under­stand and to feel accept­ed and appre­ci­at­ed. (empha­sis added) 

But, what about “false prophets” and “false teach­ers”? Are mem­bers meant to reach out and help them feel accept­ed and appre­ci­at­ed? Here’s Elder Ballard’s next paragraph:

Let us remem­ber that it is our duty to be faith­ful to the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes faith—real faith, total and unreserved—to accept and strive to live prophet­ic coun­sel. Lucifer, the adver­sary of truth, does not want us to feel or exhib­it that kind of faith. He encour­ages dis­obe­di­ence, plant­i­ng defi­ance in the hearts of the unwary. If he is suc­cess­ful, they will turn away from the light into the dark­ness of the world. Our safe­ty, our peace, lies in work­ing as hard as we can to live as the Father and Son would have us live, in flee­ing from false prophets and false teach­ers, and in being anx­ious­ly engaged in good caus­es. (empha­sis added) 

So, mem­bers are taught to help “all men, women, and chil­dren … feel accept­ed and appre­ci­at­ed” but to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly “flee” from false prophets and false teachers—and most for­mer mem­bers eas­i­ly qual­i­fy as such.7

Penetrance in LDS thought and action

The pat­tern of shun­ning those who speak open­ly about why they do not believe in the Church’s truth claims is fol­lowed in near­ly all offi­cial LDS mate­r­i­al. I’m aware of only one exception—a sto­ry by Elder Ucht­dorf about an ex-mem­ber “David” who debat­ed with mem­bers online and was con­vert­ed through the patient efforts of “Jacob.”8

Besides the sto­ry of “David” and “Jacob” giv­en by Elder Ucht­dorf, I am not aware of a sin­gle instance in Church pro­duced mate­r­i­al when some­one who open­ly dis­cuss­es their ratio­nale for reject­ing Church truth-claims is reached out to for fel­low­ship (much less engaged with in sub­stan­tive dis­cus­sion).9 As pre­sent­ed in offi­cial Church mate­r­i­al, all for­mer mem­bers who are fel­low­shipped either have no intel­lec­tu­al jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for leav­ing or are com­plete­ly silent about their ratio­nale.10

The sev­enth tem­ple rec­om­mend ques­tion is a good exam­ple of this atti­tude gen­er­al­ly. The ques­tion asks mem­bers: “Do you sup­port, affil­i­ate with, or agree with any group or indi­vid­ual whose teach­ings or prac­tices are con­trary to or oppose those accept­ed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints?” which strong­ly implies that such affil­i­a­tion is to be avoid­ed or one is not wor­thy of entrance into the temple.

Spotty in practice

Eccle­si­as­ti­cal dis­ci­pline of indi­vid­u­als who have spo­ken out about their dis­be­lief gen­er­al­ly fol­lows the trend described above. To the degree they speak out and adopt the points out­lined by Bal­lard and Asay is gen­er­al­ly the degree to which the indi­vid­ual is like­ly to be shunned (or their like­li­hood of excom­mu­ni­ca­tion for open­ly dis­agree­ing with the Church11).

Although many mem­bers shun “faith-killers” to some degree, oth­er mem­bers either ignore or are not aware of Ballard’s and Asays direc­tion (or sim­i­lar direc­tives in Church lit­er­a­ture). These oth­er mem­bers fol­low the pre­pon­der­ance of mes­sages focused on the inclu­sive and embrac­ing aspects of the Gospel mes­sage and lean towards these when decid­ing how to treat for­mer mem­bers.12 The ten­sion between avoid­ing those who speak open­ly about their dis­be­lief (and pro­tect­ing oth­ers from their influ­ence) and lov­ing and accept­ing those indi­vid­u­als is demon­strat­ed in the 2017 Fair­Mor­mon pan­el dis­cus­sion Fam­i­ly Mem­bers Who Left.

Moving Forward

The Mor­mon News­room, in speak­ing about dia­log with those of dif­fer­ent reli­gions and those with­out reli­gion, offer up this wis­dom:

We gen­er­al­ly avoid con­tro­ver­sial top­ics (such as pol­i­tics, mon­ey or reli­gion) at the din­ner table. But this can be prob­lem­at­ic because if believ­ers aren’t talk­ing faith with fam­i­ly and friends — espe­cial­ly with those who aren’t reli­gious — we leave the door of mis­un­der­stand­ing wide open…” 

Per­haps this coun­sel should be extend­ed to for­mer mem­bers, too—even those who left for intel­lec­tu­al rea­sons and speak open­ly about their ratio­nale? How do mem­bers expect to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ing for­mer mem­bers (and vice ver­sa) if they are not com­mu­ni­cat­ing about these issues? Is it pos­si­ble for mem­bers to dis­cuss the issues open­ly, why they view them dif­fer­ent­ly, and then, as need­ed, polite­ly agree to dis­agree on some top­ics? Is there still room to dis­cuss the issues in order to find com­mon ground?

In anoth­er arti­cle defend­ing reli­gious dia­log, the Mor­mon News­room offered per­haps the best counter to the coun­sel to flee or shun those who have left the Church because they no longer accept the truth-claims:

It feels uncom­fort­able to lis­ten to crit­ics call our cher­ished beliefs into ques­tion, and yet we show strength by engag­ing in sin­cere con­ver­sa­tions with those who oppose our views. After all, we trust that ‘truth will cut its own way’ and love will even­tu­al­ly win out in the con­test of ideals. 

Other relevant perspectives

These resources address—from a vari­ety of viewpoints—the ques­tion of how Lat­ter-day Saints should treat or respond to for­mer or dis-believ­ing mem­bers or oth­er­wise dis­cuss the top­ic of shun­ning in the LDS Church.

  1. One woman describes her treat­ment:

    My sto­ry, in a nut­shell — extreme TBM [True-Believ­ing Mor­mon] fam­i­ly. I left the church. What fol­lows is a decade of, first, silent treat­ment, then an extreme­ly super­fi­cial “truce” on hol­i­days but oth­er­wise not much con­tact, then out­right being for­bid­den from the fam­i­ly home when my younger broth­er left the church (I must have cor­rupt­ed him and torn down his faith, so I’m a dan­ger to the fam­i­ly and must be shunned)… 

    Anoth­er described try­ing to reach out to his close LDS friends after decid­ing the truth-claims couldn’t be sup­port­ed:

    So I reached out to one of my best friends from col­lege, because he knew me bet­ter than any­one. He respond­ed that he was always will­ing to talk. I had no idea where to begin. In a short amount of time I had already amassed a huge list of con­cerns which was over­whelm­ing just to try to men­tal­ly sort into cat­e­gories, much less dis­cuss. So I just gave him a bare list of about 30 con­cerns and asked if he had any pref­er­ence where to begin… didn’t hear back from him for some time… I even­tu­al­ly got one mean­ing­ful response from him, and that was a rec­om­men­da­tion that I go to one of our oth­er friends with those ques­tions, because he knew more about church his­to­ry stuff….So, still des­per­ate to have a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with any­body, I reached out to friend #2. I briefly described my par­a­digm shift and men­tioned that friend #1 had rec­om­mend­ed I talk to him. His response was very short. Some­thing to the effect of: “I don’t share your beliefs, and I hope you find what you are look­ing for.” I couldn’t believe it. I went into a depression…I have main­tained my friend­ship with friend #1, who has not lost his faith as far as I can tell, and has always been gen­er­al­ly unin­ter­est­ed in church his­to­ry or deep doc­trine any­way. I have had no con­tact with friend #2 since that last mes­sage he sent. I hon­est­ly, ful­ly thought my friends would talk to me. We used to talk about every­thing. I thought I knew them bet­ter than that. 

    Here’s how one girl described her asso­ci­a­tion with her best friend after telling her she had left:

    I’ve been so down the past few days because of this. I told her on the phone (we live in dif­fer­ent states) in Sep­tem­ber, she didn’t give me any response until Decem­ber, an email. Her response was that I was lying, made her feel “dark and dirty”, and that I was being judge­men­tal. I told her I was so con­fused why she thought all that, asked her what I said to make her feel that way. She’s not even will­ing to talk to me at all any­more because she’s wor­ried she’ll get defen­sive and make things worse. I told her the worst thing she could do is say noth­ing, but appar­ent­ly she doesn’t believe me because she still won’t talk to me. It just real­ly, real­ly sucks. I thought for sure she would take it well and she’d be under­stand­ing enough to where it wouldn’t TOTALLY change our rela­tion­ship but I could not have been more wrong. 

    More accounts may be found in the doc­u­ment How those who leave the LDS Church are viewed under the sec­tion “Exam­ples of how peo­ple are treat­ed who leave the Church”. Many oth­er anec­dotes can be found on the exmor­mon sub­red­dit.

  2. To “shun” means, accord­ing to Mer­ri­am-Web­ster, “to avoid delib­er­ate­ly and espe­cial­ly habit­u­al­ly”. The most extreme exam­ples of shun­ning come from some reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties (Amish, Jeho­vahs Wit­ness­es) who for­mal­ly avoid speak­ing with those who have left the faith. Besides excom­mu­ni­ca­tion and dis­fel­low­ship­ment (which are far more mild than the for­mal shun­ning in these oth­er faiths) Mor­mons do not for­mal­ly shun any­one. Gen­er­al avoid­ance and the avoid­ance of talk­ing about truth-claim issues and/or a person’s new beliefs is how I am using the word “shun” in this doc­u­ment. The usage seems jus­ti­fied giv­en how Asay uses the term “shun” and Bal­lard urges mem­bers to “flee”. Shun­ning need not be for­mal­ly imposed to still qual­i­fy as shun­ning.

  3. Shun­ning is also endorsed by lead­ers in some oth­er, some­what less dra­mat­ic ways.

    • Shun the pros­e­lyt­ing efforts. L. Whit­ney Clay­ton clear­ly qual­i­fies his shun­ning to focus on the dis­cus­sion, not the person:

      We should dis­con­nect imme­di­ate­ly and com­plete­ly from lis­ten­ing to the pros­e­ly­tiz­ing efforts of those who have lost their faith and instead recon­nect prompt­ly with the holy spirit. 

      For­mer mem­bers are often eager to dis­cuss the rea­sons they left, but believ­ing mem­bers should avoid these kinds of dis­cus­sions, accord­ing to Clayton.

    • Shun by lack of asso­ci­a­tion. Shun­ning may also occur inad­ver­tent­ly mere­ly because a mem­ber does not feel that a for­mer mem­ber still shares their eter­nal per­spec­tive. Thomas S. Mon­son encour­aged mem­bers:

      We should asso­ciate with those who, like us, are plan­ning not for tem­po­rary con­ve­nience, shal­low goals, or nar­row ambition—but rather with those who val­ue the things that mat­ter most, even eter­nal objectives. 

      Hence, for­mer mem­bers may eas­i­ly end up being avoid­ed as a mat­ter of course as mem­bers opt to rub shoul­ders with those who share their worldview.

    • Shun to avoid endors­ing behav­ior. In an inter­view for the Mor­mon News­room, Dallin H. Oaks was asked how to respond to a homo­sex­u­al child who want­ed to bring a part­ner home to visit:

    PUBLIC AFFAIRS: At what point does show­ing that love cross the line into inad­ver­tent­ly endors­ing behav­ior? If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my part­ner to our home to vis­it? Can we come for hol­i­days?’ How do you bal­ance that against, for exam­ple, con­cern for oth­er chil­dren in the home?’ 

    ELDER OAKS: That’s a deci­sion that needs to be made indi­vid­u­al­ly by the per­son respon­si­ble, call­ing upon the Lord for inspi­ra­tion. I can imag­ine that in most cir­cum­stances the par­ents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that posi­tion.’ Sure­ly if there are chil­dren in the home who would be influ­enced by this exam­ple, the answer would like­ly be that. There would also be oth­er fac­tors that would make that the like­ly answer. 

    I can also imag­ine some cir­cum­stances in which it might be pos­si­ble to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and intro­duce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a pub­lic sit­u­a­tion that would imply our approval of your “part­ner­ship.”

    A non-believ­ing, open­ly athe­ist child eas­i­ly qual­i­fies as “false teacher” or “faith-killer”, and it seems rea­son­able that par­ents would want to fol­low Oaks advice to keep them from influ­enc­ing oth­er chil­dren in the home.

  4. The New Tes­ta­ment Stu­dent Man­u­al uses the terms “antichrist” and “deceiv­er” some­what syn­ony­mous­ly with those described by Elder Bal­lard in his talk on false prophets and false teach­ers in its dis­cus­sion of 2 John 1:7–10.

  5. To “shun” means, accord­ing to Mer­ri­am-Web­ster, “to avoid delib­er­ate­ly and espe­cial­ly habit­u­al­ly”. To “flee” from some­one seems syn­ony­mous with (or per­haps even in excess of) shun­ning them. Elder Ballard’s talk is ref­er­enced in the New Tes­ta­ment Stu­dent Man­u­al in asso­ci­a­tion with 2 John 1:7–10 where John directs Church mem­bers to deal with those who do not “con­fess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” to “receive him not into your house, nei­ther bid him God speed”. Pre­ced­ing the quo­ta­tion of Elder Bal­lard, the man­u­al explains:

    John was not sug­gest­ing that the Saints should fail to extend com­mon cour­tesy to those who taught con­trary doc­trines. How­ev­er, since ear­ly Chris­t­ian con­gre­ga­tions gath­ered to wor­ship in the homes of Church mem­bers, tra­di­tion­al cus­toms of hos­pi­tal­i­ty could inad­ver­tent­ly enable hereti­cal teach­ers to infil­trate con­gre­ga­tions. Elder M. Rus­sell Bal­lard of the Quo­rum of the Twelve Apos­tles warned mod­ern Church mem­bers not to asso­ciate with deceivers and antichrists oper­at­ing in our day… 

  6. The direc­tive to shun faith-killers was repeat­ed in the 1995 Ensign and is in the cur­rent Book of Mor­mon Teacher Resource Man­u­al.
  7. How can Elder Bal­lard rec­on­cile these two con­tra­dict­ing state­ments? Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, in-group/out-group psy­chol­o­gy sug­gests that a hat­ed out­group is fre­quent­ly viewed as sub­hu­man; hence, “false prophets” and “false teach­ers” aren not read­i­ly viewed as peo­ple need­ing inclu­sion but as ene­mies to avoid (or fight).

    LDS doc­trine pro­vides some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for (or at least res­o­nance with) de-human­iz­ing those who speak out against the Church. Joseph Smith taught that those who leave the Church “left the neu­tral ground… [and] can [nev­er] get back on to it” (source) and will inevitably become ser­vants of Satan. And, while exact­ly who becomes a son of perdi­tion and goes to out­er dark­ness is not well defined, Brigham Young taught that sons of perdi­tion are effec­tive­ly anni­hi­lat­ed. Note that Elder Asay uses the phrase “put them out of exis­tence” sev­er­al times in his talk as if to allude to the even­tu­al fate of apos­tates.

  8. In his Octo­ber 2016 Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence address enti­tled “Learn from Alma and Amulek”, Elder Ucht­dorf tells the sto­ry of “David”, a man who “came across some infor­ma­tion about the Church that con­fused him.” He became “unset­tled” by the “neg­a­tive mate­r­i­al” and even­tu­al­ly resigned from the Church. David spent time online debat­ing with mem­bers of the Church, and one mem­ber, “Jacob”, “was always kind and respect­ful to David, but … also firm in his defense of the Church.” Even­tu­al­ly, despite find­ing it dif­fi­cult to over­come his “pride”, David was rebap­tized into the Church.

  9. If you are aware of any mate­r­i­al that con­tra­dicts this claim, please noti­fy me so I can update this arti­cle.

  10. Again, if you find any offi­cial LDS mate­r­i­al that con­tra­dicts this claims, please noti­fy me.

  11. Com­pare Bruce Holt’s excom­mu­ni­ca­tion with Jere­my Run­nells’ excom­mu­ni­ca­tion.

  12. The deci­sion to shun because of dif­fer­ences in doc­trine ver­sus includ­ing oth­ers with dis­sim­i­lar views and embrac­ing dif­fer­ences of opin­ion is one man­i­fes­ta­tion of a deep­er ten­sion between the total­is­tic and indi­vid­ual-growth mind­sets that are part of the fun­da­men­tal fab­ric of the LDS Church. See the three-fold nature of the LDS Church: cor­po­rate, total­is­tic, and indi­vid­ual-growth.

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March 6, 2018 7:04 pm

[…] “shun” and “flee” from those who open­ly dis­agree with accept­ed Church doc­trine (see The Shun­ning Key). Not only does this coun­sel help mem­bers to avoid ideas or data that might con­tra­dict the […]

April 10, 2017 5:02 pm

Thank you for writ­ing this arti­cle. I often find that many arti­cles — both on the Mor­mon and ex-Mor­mon side of the dis­cus­sion — fail to dis­cuss this very sen­si­tive top­ic in an unbi­ased and bal­anced man­ner. I want to applaud you for your treat­ment of this very tricky sub­ject and I do hope it can lead to bet­ter dis­cus­sions of how we can bet­ter con­duct inter­faith dia­logue between mem­bers and for­mer members.