Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone? -James Thurber
Question #91188 posted on 05/05/2018 9:12 a.m.
Q:

Dear alumni and current writers of the 100 Hour Board,

1. What is a "faith crisis"? I mean, I get what it is. But I feel like different people use that phrase differently. What is it to you? How should someone cope with it?

2. Have you/someone you know ever experienced one? If you're not comfortable talking about it, feel free to write about it as if someone you know had this faith crisis or post anonymously or something <3

3. I have a friend who is currently in a faith crisis. He is transferring from BYU so he can have the option of leaving the church if he decides to do so. Any recommended reading/listening for me, as a friend, or him, seeing as he is going through a faith crisis? (Books, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc).

4. What do you think 100% believing true-blue mormons need to know in order to better understand less actives/those who leave the church/those who are wavering? Is it bad that I don't want to pressure him into A. staying in the church or B. staying at BYU?

5. Did you know that if current BYU students decide they do not believe in the church (but keep the word of wisdom, law of chastity, all commandments, etc) they can be expelled? How is that not a violation of their agency/freedom of religion? It seems to me that if they are keeping the honor code, we should let them stay.

-My Name Here

A:

Dear you,

I don't feel qualified to answer all of your questions, but I have strong opinions about what constitutes a "faith crisis" so I wanted to chime in. In my view, having doubts or concerns does not constitute a crisis of faith. We all have doubts and concerns, oftentimes concerns that may not be resolved on earth. Therefore I don't consider such concerns to be worthy of the term "faith crisis" unless they're accompanied by sincere, honest doubts that you want to be a member of the LDS church. If you have doubts but also a strong testimony of the gospel, I wouldn't call that a faith crisis. I would only use that terminology if your future as a Mormon is truly in question. That's a fine line, but I'm weirdly passionate about it, because to overuse that term will make it seem less potent. And people who are undergoing crises of faith don't deserve to have those feelings mitigated. I'm not sure that I appreciate the term overall, as a matter of fact, because it overly simplifies a lot of complex feelings.

I don't think hearing any one particular story or example would be the most helpful answer to your questions, because each person who wavers or ends up leaving the Church does so for a variety of reasons, ones that may not be easily articulated.

If you want to know about my experience, I'll tell you this: I spent more than a year attending church, praying, reading my scriptures, and overall doing everything I was supposed to do. And in the end, I realized I didn't feel any differently than when I wasn't active. I prayed sincerely asking for help, asking for guidance to improve, asking to feel the Spirit and have spiritual experiences. But despite my sincere effort, I didn't feel a strong enough connection to keep trying. Periodically I'll pray and ask God to guide my life, to tell me if I need to make changes in my life or if I'm on the wrong path. But overall I'm happier now than I was when I was trying to do everything the LDS faith professes I should do. That may be circumstantial, but at this point in my life I'm not sure that being a member would ultimately bring me more happiness.

There isn't anything you can do to better understand than to simply ask your friends or loved ones about their experiences. That may be a personal question, so I wouldn't ask just anyone, but if it's someone you're close to and with whom you share a bond of trust, they may be willing to confide in you.

The one thing that bothers me the most is when my friends and family act as though they know what's best for me, or as if they know how to rectify all my doubts and concerns. Telling me to pray or go to church feels condescending, because obviously I've already tried that. If it were as simple as that, I think I could've figured it out on my own, thank you. At least from my perspective, the most important thing you can do for someone in that situation is simply to keep loving them anyway, keep supporting them and encouraging them to figure out what makes them happy. You shouldn't pressure them in any direction, just listen to them if they want to talk and offer advice if they ask for it. But overall, love them and make sure they know you'll continue to love them no matter what they choose.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear penzington,

Regarding your fifth question, I would refer you to a Deseret News article from August 18, 2016, BYU adjusts honor code policies for students who leave LDS Church:

BYU adjusted its appeals process last fall for students facing expulsion after losing their required endorsement from an LDS ecclesiastical leader.

The adjustments to the school's honor code change the petition process for those students if they attempt to continue at the school, but the campus still has a disaffiliation rule that expels students who renounce their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates BYU.

Meanwhile, the American Bar Association last month rejected a formal complaint against BYU's law school filed last fall by FreeBYU. The small organization of alumni claimed the university runs afoul of federal religious nondiscrimination laws when it expels students who violate the honor code by quitting the church or engaging in same-sex relationships.


I'll jump ahead a bit.

For one, the changes eliminated the requirement that a student who petitioned to stay at BYU after leaving the church had to sign a release that allowed university officials to communicate with the student’s ecclesiastical leader. Now, a student can choose whether or not to sign a waiver.

The update also added language to the honor code from a March 2015 change in the school's admission policy, which allows former Mormons to apply for an exception. Previously, former Mormons could not apply to enroll at the school.

The adjustments of the past 18 months don't change the basic intent of the rule, Jenkins said.

"BYU’s Honor Code explicitly states the principles students are expected to follow," Jenkins said. "For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this includes following the values and standards of their religion. Because of covenants and commitments members of the LDS Church have made, they can no longer remain in good Honor Code standing if they go through the formal process of removing their names from LDS Church records. The Honor Code states that students are required to be in good Honor Code standing to be admitted to, continue enrollment at and graduate from BYU."

The policy is explained in the “Withdrawn or Denied Ecclesiastical Endorsement section of the honor code.

"Excommunication, disfellowshipment or disaffiliation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints automatically results in the withdrawal of the student's ecclesiastical endorsement and the loss of good Honor Code standing," the section states. "Disaffiliation is defined for purposes of this policy as removal of an individual's name from the official records of the church."

Exemptions are rare, Jenkins said. In such cases, the student pays the tuition of a non-LDS student, which is double that of an LDS student. Church tithing supports BYU, so all Mormons who tithe support the university. Tuition this year is $5,300 for LDS undergraduates and $10,600 for non-LDS students.

Jenkins said the disaffiliation policy does not apply to students who experience doubts, only those who resign their church membership.


As I understand that statement, you are expelled from the university only if you have taken the formal step of disafilliating, not just if you decide you don't believe in the church. To clarify: I have two people close to me who don't consider themselves members of the Church and haven't attended in some time. One doesn't feel it necessary to remove their name, the other is planning to do so. If these two people were BYU students, one would be kicked out of the University, one would not.

Suerte,

--Ardilla Feroz