Why Do So Many Exit Stories Sound Alike?

Like many, I have had the experience of reading a few exit story letters of people leaving the Mormon Church.  Most of these come from people I don’t know directly through social media and the like.  I am sure that there are folks who feel quite sincere, and are open and honest in their explanations.  It also seems reasonable that many people will have similar reasons for leaving the church.  But it seems suspiciously odd to me that so many of these stories sound exactly alike.  It is enough to make one wonder if there are sample letters or templates out there for individuals to base their letters on.

There are such templates – a simple google search reveals.  And unsurprisingly they read just like the few exit stories I have read.

Intellectual integrity is a common appeal in almost all such letters, which seems a tad ironic in a letter that borders on plagiarism.  And it is difficult to take the list of grievances seriously, when the list reads like many other lists containing the same old criticisms that have been addressed well and often.

Again, I am sure people have their reasons for wanting to leave, and I am also sure these reasons will overlap.  But it would be more interesting to read if these letters had some originality to them.  Following the templates takes the shine off whatever sincerity or integrity they would like to express.

5 Responses to “Why Do So Many Exit Stories Sound Alike?”

  1. 1 Hjisha Meligers September 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I notice that so many of the testimonies I hear on Sunday sound the same. I think there is a template for them. I don’t believe that using a template necessarily means the words are not heartfelt

  2. 2 Franklin September 23, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Eric, many of the criticisms haven’t been dealt with before, either effectively or in any depth. In fact, for many of my own questions, the Church and its apologists simply have no answer at all, and I haven’t left. I’m still trying to make sense of this sprawling mess we call Mormonism. From where I sit, your oversimplification of difficult issues is disappointing, but actually quite similar to the assurances of those who want to believe there are no significant problems with their belief system. Are you perhaps using a template?

  3. 3 Eric Nielson September 23, 2016 at 5:55 pm


    You make a great point. There are likely many Mormons who are just somewhat playing the role. Not just with testimonies, but what we call ‘Sunday School Answers’. It is difficult to know the level of sincerity without knowing the person.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson September 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm


    The church and the apologists at places like FAIR give substantial answers to every criticism under the sun. The CES letter tries to dig up every little thing, and the response to the CES letter substantially addresses each point. This is just one example. Sure, there are some topics that will always come down to faith, but they are still plausible responses.

    I have blogged here for more than 10 years with hundreds of posts addressing a very wide range of topics. If you are that interested in my use of any template in my commitment to the church I invite you to read them.

  1. 1 Why Typical Exit Stories Don’t Bother My Faith (Much) | Small and Simple Trackback on October 8, 2016 at 7:48 am

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