Journalist Lauren Larson has done a remarkable thing.
Writing for The Verge, a tech-centric publication within the Vox family, she has shown how it’s possible to treat both sides in a contentious issue with overall fairness. Much of her work in “The website that helps people leave the Mormon Church” simply involves following a journalist’s natural curiosity and then writing about what she has discovered.
To be sure, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes the harder punches in Larson’s report. She quotes such remarks as “I suppose to her, families are forever, unless someone comes out as trans” and “**** bigoted old men.” The implication: Who could possibly disagree with such copper-bottomed examples of inclusivity and logic?
Larson takes the further step that’s becoming less common in journalism today: Actually daring to talk to the people who are taking shots from the cultural left.
The result is a report that shows occasional sympathy for both sides, and shows even some of the church’s stronger critics as conflicted in their emotions about leaving, or not yet leaving.
Starting near the top of the report, here’s a section that shows how the Web has made it easier for people to leave. Throughout the report, Larson’s references to the Church mean the body no longer known as “Mormon”:
In recent years, the Church has been embattled by the efficiency of the internet. It’s never been easier to stumble across information that contradicts the pillars of faith. That’s true for many religions but especially Mormonism, which has a very recent history. Where the unsavory specifics of an older faith’s origins may have been eroded by time, reduced to a handful of too-old-to-question texts and some shriveled relics, the early years of Mormonism are well-documented and easily examined online. The internet has also given Mormons new platforms, from forums to podcasts, where they can share their findings. The result has been a mass undoctrination.
That language about “too-old-to-question texts” and “shriveled relics” makes my teeth hurt, but I salute Larson’s coinage of the witty antonym undoctrination.