10: Finding and Creating Community Outside Mormonism

Greg hosts a discussion with Amanda Nokleby and the Reverend Tom Goldsmith from the Unitarian Church, about the need for community after leaving Mormonism and how people strive to fill that need. The panel moves into a discussions of how community is created in the Mormon Church, in Mormon communities of dissent, as well as within the Salt Lake City Unitarian Church.



  1. Scott

    Hello Everyone,

    I really enjoy the Mormon Expositor and its sister podcast. I am not a
    Mormon, but am extremely interested in the religion. Being gay myself,
    I wouldn’t join the LDS, but am fascinated by all faiths that claim the
    Book of Mormon as a source of revelation.

    I understand from listing to the this and other podcasts that many who
    leave the Utah line of Mormonism become agnostic or atheist. I can
    completely understand. I was raised Catholic and many of the
    irritations that are expressed on the podcasts are the same I had with
    the Catholic Church. I eventually, defected from the RC and now
    consider myself, Buddhist.

    I do have a question for those who want a Mormon like community after
    the decide to leave the LDS. Through research, I understand that many of
    the issues that disfranchise member from the Utah line have been
    resolved in the Missouri line, the Community of Christ.

    Granted I don’t think they have the Temple, but they have women,
    lesbians, and gays in the Priesthood. Many of the LDS practices are
    included in the Community’s practices too. They also seem to have the
    same governance structure as the Utah line too.

    Just wondering.

    PS, for those who think Mormonism has some “weird” beliefs, investigate
    Buddhism. We have some crazy belief too!

    Reply Oct 17, 2012 @ 07:17:31
    • Greg Rockwell

      Scott, you have hit upon one of the ongoing conversation pieces in the post/fringe/ex/whatever Mormon communities. If the RLDS/COC got it “right”, why don’t we see more “Brighamites” going there?

      The COC is aware of that gaping question as well and in the last couple of years was attempting a program to gather in some of the LDS fallouts. Perhaps John Hamer will be kind enough to come on and give some more thoughts on that.

      The COC in Salt Lake is a real enigma, with just a handful of adherents. For some reason it does not get traction. One would think that it would be stuffed with the disaffected hordes, but it’s not.

      I suspect that one of the primary factors for why more of us don’t go to the COC has to do with the fact that the COC is still fundamentally Mormon. The roots go back to Joseph Smith. Our upbringing in the LDS church taught us to revere the prophet Joseph in such a way that discovering his more than ample share of human flaws presents real problems for people. There is a strong tendency to vilify Joseph and blame him for the sins of Mormonism. We trade one simplistic (inaccurate) view of Joseph for another simplistic (also inaccurate) view. Even if one attempts to maintain a more complex view of him, the reasons why one would want to continue to worship under his shadow becomes problematic.

      And, the COC is still fundamentally Christian (albeit quite liberal). As you intoned (and speaking now from anecdotal, personal experience) a lot of us lose/abandon/move past/transcend faith in God and don’t find comfort in participating in a community revolving around the (non)influence of God in our lives.

      For whatever reason, Mormonism does a fantastic job of handing you the tools to dismantle all faith, once you have dismantled your Mormon specific faith. There are many who disagree with me on this point. There are many who go to other religious communities, so I want to make sure that it is clear that I am making that observation for myself, and know that I have a lot of friends who would agree with it for themselves as well.

      Reply Oct 17, 2012 @ 11:58:26
      • Heather C.

        Greg, I haven’t had a chance to listen to this episode yet. So this might be a silly question. But I’ll ask anyway. Do you think a follow-up episode regarding the lack of LDS disaffected in COC would be worthwhile? Or do you think it would be overkill?

        Reply Oct 17, 2012 @ 12:07:00
        • Greg Rockwell

          I think that could be really interesting and it would be easy to figure out who needs to be on that. :)

          Reply Oct 17, 2012 @ 12:17:49
      • Steve

        Following up on Greg’s response, I gave the CoC a long look but decided against it for the reasons Greg cited, plus the SLC congregation consists of mostly older couples and there was a real lack of youth programs. This makes the CoC less appealing as an option for families with young children.

        Reply Oct 29, 2012 @ 15:16:38
  2. Jake

    One of the most important things I learned from my own spiritual quest following my disaffection from Mormonism was that unless one were to jump into another extreme such as becoming a fundamentalist Muslim or an ultra-orthodox Jew, one is very unlikely to fill all the empty holes that result from leaving Mormonism in one place. The church provided our philosophy of life, our morality, our community, the framework for pursuing spiritual growth, our source of friends, our dating pool and so much more. I now see it as normal that one seek the elements of a fulfilling life from many sources, and the idea of depending on a single place for so much seems unnatural and stifling.

    I too found a home in the UU church after leaving Mormonism. I found it filled many holes, but not all. I now see life as an exciting adventure of meeting new people, exploring new things and trying on new ideas, including spiritual ones. But at first I had to let go of the idea of finding a single place that met all my needs.

    Reply Oct 18, 2012 @ 21:02:17
    • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      I’m reflecting on Jake’s closing thought, above: “..I had to let go of the idea of finding a single place that met all my needs.” In comparison, the advice of financial planners is to “..never put all your money in one investment (stock, bond, mutual fund) no matter how attractive it may appear. As you said, Mormons get moral structure, community, friends, dating prospects (and more) from one pool, the Mormon pool. In 3 words, Mormons should “Diversify their portfolio.” Some analogies don’t fit, others do. Does this one?

      Reply Oct 19, 2012 @ 03:48:36
  3. Winterbuzz/Lindsay

    I enjoyed this podcast so much (I enjoy all your podcasts BTW). I considered this to be a thoughtful and thorough analysis of Mormon community and disaffected Mormonism. I really appreciated the Reverend’s comments near the end about Mormons enjoying the story of Mormonism as that rings true to me. I have an odd question that occured to me while listening. I’m wondering if the participants feel it possible or even appropriate for a disaffected Mormon to start a new schism that incorporated a lot of the familiar traditions of Mormonism as well as the more progressive tenets found in other faiths, such as the Unitarians. What would that church look like? Would this even be a solution or does online Mormonism fill that need? Since Mormonism is so hung up on authority and apostasy, the idea is heretical to most Mormons and I see so much overstatement of online Mormons claiming to not be starting their own religions, but if they did, would they be successful?

    Reply Oct 23, 2012 @ 14:31:22
  4. matt

    Hi I’m wondering if I can get a reference to the music. MUSIC BY MATTHEW CRAWLEY came at the end of the podcast, but I’m not successful in finding anything else (like in google or itunes) on him or the music. thanks

    Reply Oct 23, 2012 @ 15:01:46
    • Matthew Crowley

      That is remarkably flattering, but I’m no recording artist. Just thought it would be fun to see if I could put something together for the podcast.

      Reply Oct 23, 2012 @ 18:30:40
  5. Steve

    Just finished listening to the entire podcast. Overall, I’d say it was very good, although I think it could’ve been better with more voices. Some of the people I’d have loved to see on the panel are Erin Gilmore from the Holliday United Church of Christ, Micah Micah McAllister from Life After Mormonism, maybe a Buddhist monk or two.

    Reply Nov 08, 2012 @ 18:54:37
  6. Christian K. Anderson

    Yeah, verily, this shall be the episode wherein and of which the prophets shall say, “Thus did the Mormon Expositor hit its stride on Episode the Tenth. Yeah, verily.”

    In other words, y’all have done some fine work so far, but this one was my favorite. I shared it with the UU minister here in Cola.

    I loved the comment about the shared ExMormon experience being born of “pain.” Yes. It takes a while to move past it, but you eventually do. Sadly, that pain can come back at you later too with sharp reminder, but they become less frequent and less sharp over time.

    Keep up the fine work, Brethren and Sistren.

    Reply Nov 28, 2012 @ 22:26:09
    • Greg Rockwell

      Thanks, Christian. That’s awfully kind of you.

      Reply Nov 29, 2012 @ 13:04:20

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