Twin Falls Newspaper Article
Today an article about PostMormon.org was published in the Times-News religion section.
Ex-Mormon group offers support to those who’ve left the fold
By Andrew Weeks
Wondering what that billboard on U.S. Highway 93 in Jerome County that reads “You are not alone” is all about?
Jeff Ricks will tell you it’s an invitation.
Ricks, 54, was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was taught the church’s doctrines and values, and believed in what it promulgated.
That changed in 1993 when a business venture in Idaho Falls went under and he lost faith in the church’s teachings about tithing. He expected blessings from paying a full tithe, not the hardship that came from losing his home and business.
“Everybody who leaves the church leaves for different reasons,” Ricks said, admitting that his reason for leaving is “a little odd.” “Everyone has a trigger that brings them to that point. This (tithing) was my trigger.”
He began to study outside the realm of church-approved literature, and took issue with more of its teachings. When Ricks decided to leave Mormonism, he didn’t expect the loneliness and ridicule he felt afterward. He was tagged as an apostate, a black sheep, an anti-Mormon instead of someone who fell out of faith with his church.
“It was very lonely for me,” Ricks said. “Icouldn’t talk to anyone about it. I lost friends. People didn’t know how to relate to me anymore.”
Ricks, a fourth-generation Mormon - Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, was named after his great-great grandfather, Thomas Ricks - decided former Mormons such as himself likely experience the same things he went through and launched PostMormon.org, a nonprofit group and Web site to support others who’ve left the church.
An engineer from Logan, Utah, Ricks says he has no plans to return to the church, nor does he encourage others to leave it.
PostMormon.org has local chapters throughout the country, including one in Boise, and some overseas. Members meet at least once a month to discuss a variety of topics, including religion.
The group purchased space along Highway 30 in western Twin Falls County to place the billboard once it leaves the Jerome site, north of State Highway 25 along U.S. Highway 93.
Ricks does not consider his group “anti-Mormon,” he said, though that’s often the first thing church members label it.
Ricks calls it an uninformed, knee-jerk reaction.
“To me an anti-Mormon is someone who tries to get people away from the church,” he said. “They hold signs at Temple Square ... I think it’s disgusting to see that. We’re not like that in any way.
“Mormonism has a lot of good, positive things about it. It’s a good life for a lot of people. But our organization supports those who, for one reason or another, can’t support the church anymore.”
Ricks might not aim for his group to be anti-Mormon, but some of the comments posted on the Web site’s blog could be offensive to some church members. A number of people have posted “exit” stories.
Some former Mormons, Ricks included, claim the church has grown into a powerful public relations organization and has covered up some of its own history. Others say they’ve felt current leaders are out of sync with real-life issues and offer only pat answers to real problems. Others have taken issue with Mormon standards or church doctrine.
Those who’ve joined the post-Mormon community often do not reveal their full names for fear of backlash, Ricks said. Some, he said, have lost jobs over it.
While church officials are disappointed whenever someone leaves the church, they say it’s not right for members to treat former Mormons unkindly.
“We’re always saddened when someone leaves the church,” Terry McCurdy, area spokesman for the LDS church, said. “That’s a decision they make, for whatever reason. We can’t force them to come back, but we’d love to see them return.”
McCurdy said Tuesday that he had not seen PostMormon.org’s billboard or heard about the group, but said those who leave the church do need support.
“When you’re in the church you have friends, and any time you’re out of the church you have a different group of friends,” McCurdy said. “I’ve seen it happen, and have great empathy for those who are in that situation.”
The church, he said, encourages members to reach out to neighbors, including those who’ve been estranged. It’s not Christian conduct to judge them harshly, he said, and it makes it more difficult for those who might want to return.
LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, after inviting estranged Mormons to return to the church’s “open arms” during its spring 2008 general conference, said “I would encourage members of the church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours.”
The best thing any Mormon can do, McCurdy said, is to love those who’ve left. “We’d love to see them come back,” he said. “Being a true friend, and truly loving them, that’s the key.”
Though it’s been a rough road, Ricks said he has found his own moral compass since leaving the church.
“I wasn’t expecting my personal outcome to be what it is, but I am happier outside the church than inside the church,” Ricks said. “I can read and search, seek and find, and don’t have to check everything against what the church leaders say ... I’ve discovered that I do have an inner moral compass.”
Of his group, he said: “I love it when people come to our Web site and say, ‘Wow, this is the first time I feel that I’m not alone.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
Postmormon is providing a need and is not anti-Mormon or anti-any other faith.
Postmormon.org is a place for folks who have finally come to recognize the LDS Church for what it really is, and have had the courage to do something about it.
I cannot help but be off-put by McCurdy’s comments. Why the emphasis on hoping that former members return? Why not wish them the best of luck in their new life path?
The arrogance will never cease. This is a problem caused by any group that claims exclusivity to truth.
My life improved dramatically in almost every way after I shed Mormonism.
While you are in the Mormon church you do not realize that it consumes your life and you are in a sea of cult like activities and beliefs.
Leaving is like taking a breath of fresh air and you realize you no longer need to live their twisted view of the world and being a free thinker is the best and healthiest way to live. Live is much freer, happier and intellectually and culturally stimulating for non mormons and post mormons.
We feel sorry for those we have left behind and are still under the spell of the church.
Freethinker, I agree with you. If McCurdy actually had empathy, as he claims, then he wouldn’t feel so much pity for postmormons; he’d respect the decision and wish the post-mormons well on their journeys.
McCurdy just can’t bring himself to say the Church has lost some members permanantly. It’s actually quite easy to verbalize once you are out of the spin cycle.
After reading the Church Handbook of Instructions, I did not think that there was an “open arm” policy regarding those who had left the Church. The handbook was about limiting what returnees could do, at least for a time.
I have family members caught up in the lds I know my Bible it,S my life line…PLEASE STUDIE IT IT WILL HELP ALL THAT READ (very important OPEN MIND )
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