Date: May 28, 2017 09:58PM
I left in the early 90s before the internet was widely in use (I sure wasn't using it!)
I am female so I struggled with what was expected of me in the church once I was 'of age' (past 18) to really be involved and be expected to marry early and have a lot of kids.
I also grew up as a minority LDS, but when I went out to BYU I was hit with the culture shock of an LDS majority. I didn't like the whole Big Brother atmosphere at BYU. I was an artist and so were a lot of my friends and we all had trouble because we liked to express ourselves with the way we dressed and at BYU everyone expected us to conform and we got called into the Standards office for breaking the Standards code by 'drawing undo attention' to ourselves with the way we dressed.
So that was hard already. And then we had to take a lot of religion classes and I ended up with a World religions class as an elective and studying other religions (really for the first time) got me to see some of the similarities but also the differences and some of the things about the other religions esp. of Eastern origin seemed more appealing to me.
I always wanted to travel and so I ended up in France for a summer as a nanny (my only marketable skill up to that point). That also served to open my eyes to a different way of living. When I came back to Provo after France I had an even harder time adjusting.
I also had met some people whom weren't active and I got to hear their stories and it was hard to blame them from what I heard. But still I maintained my 'faith' and stayed with it.
I probably would have married an RM at that point but non of the 'good' mormons wanted to date me. I was too different, I had cut my hair short, stopped shaving my legs, that kind of thing. One boy I dated who was LDS, but not super active.. he was from Utah but a musician in a local rock band. We were doing well (so I thought) until after a few months he felt the pressure to marry (not from me, but from his culture.. I never thought it was a good idea to marry that quickly and where I grew up it wasn't the norm). So when he thought about marriage with me he realized I wasn't the type he wanted for a wife. It was okay to date an alliterative girl, but not marry one. He even told me this to my face. He actually said that one thing he didn't like was that I didn't wear enough make up!!!! It was all about HIM and not about me at all, it was like I wasn't there and never had been. He was just concerned about how I would reflect on him and what his family would think etc.
So that rejection stung pretty hard and I was less and less convinced that I could be happy living the life expected of me by the Mormon church.
But it wasn't until about a year later when I did my internship in NYC that I had the final test put to my faith. I met a boy, who was Jewish. He was attending Columbia university. We stayed in co-ed housing at the university for our internship. (I know I know BYU allowed this because in NYC housing options are very very scarce!) We fell in love. And he really challenged me with a lot of intellectual investigation into church history and doctrine. He was the one, being a naturally inquisitive bookish type (who had already questioned his own faith) and familiar with (pre-internet) research, who educated me about my own religion. So many things I knew nothing about.
But the clincher for me was his telling me the BoM was plagiarized and he told me about the book 'View of the Hebrews' that it was based on. He also told me one of the two only remaining copies existed in the BYU library's locked cases.
So when I went back for my last year after that summer, I was determined to find that book and see it for myself. I did just that. I had to lie to the librarian about why I wanted to see it (said it was for a religion class paper). I felt very guilty doing so. But it was what I needed. hard evidence. I held the book from the 1800s in my hands. I read enough in that library room to know that Joe Smith had copied his BoM story from this work of fiction written by an author local to him just 2 years before the BoM. Impossible he didn't know about it, impossible he didn't copy it.
I didn't go back to church after that. I was finally convinced it was built on a lie so NOT 'true' as I had been led to believe.
AFter that I also read the book 'The Mormon Corporate Empire' which further convinced me I didn't want to belong to it anymore.
So in short it was a book that did it for me, THE book.
For my aunt who left in the 80s it had a lot to do with women's issues and how she was treated but also she had married a non-member and he introduced her to some literature that also opened her eyes. It took her years to read any of those books he had lying around the house ('anti' mormon books). She was afraid to look at them as she'd been heavily indoctrinated NOT to read 'anti' works. Her husband asked what she thought about being told not to read something. It was hard for her to hear that, but it slowly started to make sense to her that she was being controlled.
He was patient with her. He had told her he'd read the Mormon scriptures and other Mormon books and give it good consideration (since she wanted him to join), but he said he'd also read what else was out there from a different perspective and then make a judgment about it. OF course she believed he'd 'know' the truth after reading Mormon doctrine. But when he didn't it confused her. It's hard when you are raised indoctrinated to 'feel the spirit' when reading those so called scriptures, you think it's what everyone else will feel and then they will 'know' too but if they hadn't been brain washed of course they'd be able to see through it.
My poor NY boyfriend came to visit me in Provo during my last semesters. He came to Thanksgiving with me at a classmates. there were a lot of people there, all active 'members' and they of course loved having a chance to proselytize to the non-LDS among them, esp. a Jew. (one of the 'lost' tribes right?)
Well I was embarrassed by my school mates' lack of boundaries. They asked if he had read the BoM. He had. And then what did he think. Well he was honest but polite. He did not believe.
They asked then if he'd prayed about it. To humor them I think he said yes. And then they said well that he needed to pray harder! Because he hadn't received the 'right' answer yet!
Amazing the arrogance.
Anyway it wasn't until many years after I first left that I found about I could resign and THAT was thanks to the internet.
I also had a good friend I grew up with leave while in high school. She just didn't like it. But also she had a non member dad. So I am sure he picked it apart a lot at home so she got another perspective. And she wasn't so forced into it as I was. Because of her dad she had an option. When he couldn't take the long meetings and classes anymore she just stopped coming. And she never came back.
I was devastated for her at the time, but remained friends. We are still good friends. But she doesn't know anything really about the doctrine and she never felt the need to look deeply at it. Her mom and her brother (not her sister) are still involved and some cousins. But they all seem to have mutual respect for one another.
I think a lot of women left pre internet because of abuse by the men. There is that book 'Secret Ceremonies' written in 1990 I think (But I didn't find about about it until some years after ?I left myself) about a woman's experience (all pretty negative) with the LDS faith in the 70s-80s. She left because of finally understanding how abused she'd been by priesthood holders, namely her husband but also other men. The temple ceremonies also freaked her out and I think that could be another reason why people left before the information age. Just not being comfortable with rituals they were not prepped for in advance. Finding out that the temple they had heard was going to be so amazing their whole lives was actually some crazy blood oaths! Has gotta be shocking for a lot of people!
I also had friends who fell in love with non members and faced a lot of shunning by their religion because of it. That can really change ones attitude when you find out how nasty your 'loving' church can be and how controlling and how little tolerance they have.
I imagine other forms of intolerance (like how Blacks couldn't have the priesthood until 1978, and then only because the church was going to loose it's tax exempt position if they didn't allow it) would have been a reason to leave. Sexism, Racism, Homophobia. All good reasons.
Oh and there was the whole pedophilia ring going on in Salt Lake city. An apostles daughter was involved so it was hushed up and finally the women whose kids got abused had enough of Mormonism when they saw that the perpetrators of the abuse had no consequence. This was in the 70s I think. There was a book published about it called 'Paperdolls'
Hope this helps, good luck!