Why We Left Mormonism: Eight People Tell Their Stories. By Latayne C. Scott. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990. 166 pp. Paper, $7.99.
Conservative Republicans with “family values”; neat teenage “elders” with white shirts and dark trousers going door to door; a world-class choir-these are the images that Mormonism evokes for many. Historically-minded readers will think of the Westward trek to Utah-and the reason: polygamy.
This aggressively “evangelistic” religion is one of salvation by works with a vengeance. Character, performance, good deeds, human merit, even building towards potential “godhood” are Mormonism’s hallmarks.
This is not a hateful book but one filled with testimonies of ex-Mormons that includes a former BYU scholarship student, a bishop, a great granddaughter of Brigham Young (one of many-he had 27 wives!), and a self-styled “super-Mormon.” This constitutes Part One. Their stories are varied, convincing, and centered on coming to believe in the real Jesus, though the new church connections are varied, and not all ones that GES members might choose.
Since Mormonism is a community religion, it is very hard to resist the pressure to stay in it, even for those who no longer believe.
Part Two is well described as “Identifying Factors Involved in Leaving Mormonism and Effective Nurture of Ex-Mormons.” A weekly meeting or two at a church is not enough to keep most former “Latter-day Saints” going. They need special love and encouragement. The eight “Latter-day Saints” of Part One, who are now, to use Dr. Ironside’s phrase, “Former-day Saints,” tell specifically what techniques Christians have used that affected them, including approaches that proved to be counter-productive.
Being a conservative family-oriented person is nice, but it won’t save a person from hell (which Mormonism has reduced to a very rare possibility for most).
The Bookstore Journal rightly labels this little paperback as “an excellent resource for Christians who want to know how to help Mormons.”
Arthur L. Farstad
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society