The Secular Mormon Community and Movement

Martin Luther saw the Catholic church selling indulgences. He thought that was bullshit so he wrote out 95 things he didn’t like that the Catholic church was doing. While historically he didn’t actually nail it on the church’s door, he might as well have. His writings only took 2 weeks to reach all of Germany, and only 2 months to reach all of Europe. He didn’t expect what he wrote to become the standard of criticizing the Catholic church, but he welcomed it anyway. He appeared before an excommunication court, and told them that the only way he would retract his statements were if he was proven wrong by scripture, which of course the Catholic church wasn’t able to do. They excommunicated him for apostasy. Several years later, he decided to start his own church which didn’t have the same qualities as the Catholic church that he didn’t like.

When you compare Martin Luther’s story to Jeremy Runnells’s, you can see some clear parallels. However, Jeremy didn’t go on to found his own sect of Mormonism, chiefly because he’s an Atheist. He’s not alone either, about 70% of the people leaving Mormonism become Atheist/Agnostic/Humanist/Otherwise Secular. Many of these people were raised in the Mormon religion and culture and their heritage is strongly tied to Mormonism. What are these people to do? Abandon their faith and be ashamed of their heritage and culture? I believe the answer to be simple: You maintain (but reinvent) the sense of heritage and culture, while expelling the religion. I propose that it is not only possible, but already happening with other religions, such as Judaism. In the Wikipedia article “Jewish Atheism” there is a section called “Secular Jewish Culture”. To give you an idea of what it would look like to how a Secular Mormon Culture, I have replaced all references to Judaism with Mormonism. Here is how it now reads:

Many Mormon atheists would reject even this level of ritualized and symbolic identification, instead embracing a thoroughgoing secularism and basing their Mormonism entirely in ethnicity and secular Mormon culture. Possibilities for secular Mormonism include an identification with Mormon history and peoplehood, immersion in Mormon literature (including such non-religious Mormon authors as John Dehlin and Jeremy Runnells), the consumption of Mormon food, and the use of Mormon humor. A high percentage of Utahans identify themselves as secular, rejecting the practice of the Mormon religion. While some non-believers of Mormon ancestry do not consider themselves Mormon, preferring to define themselves solely as atheists, some would argue that Mormonism is arguably a culture and tradition that can be embraced without religious faith, despite Mormon culture revolving around God

For futher reading on Secular Judaism, read herehere, and here

What would it look like if there were a secular Mormon movement going on? I propose there would be:

The list could go on and on.

I know people will likely feel uncomfortable calling it a “Secular Mormon Movement”, and I understand that. Its weird and uncomfortable thinking that you’re still a part of Mormonism in some way, because you just want to leave the church and it’s bullshit behind. However, a recent post by /u/Wolf_in_tapir_togs pointed out that with the current (and ever increasing) number of 54,000, that makes r/Exmormon the 3rd largest group of the Restorationist movement, only behind the LDS and CoC churches. Exmormon, Secular Mormon, post-Mormon, whatever you call it, it’s clear we have a pretty large base of people interested in being together.

I know that when I found out the church wasn’t true, it devastated me. I felt like I had lost ALL sense of identity. I had no connection to the past as my pioneer ancestors moved to Utah and would likely be ashamed of me for leaving the church, and I had no community to socialize and identify with as “my people”. However, after being here for over 2 years, I can confidently say I do have a people, and its the Exmormons. I feel connected to my past in the knowledge that I am a modern-day pioneer by leaving the church instead of joining it, and I have found an IRL group of Exmormons to socialize and identify with.

We can choose what we do, and I choose to embrace the Secular Mormon Movement by proudly calling myself an Exmormon.