Simply put, an ExMormon or Ex-Mormon is a person who used to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), but is no longer. However, the term has a connotation of rebellion. Some people who were once affiliated with the Church have simply drifted away and become inactive. They’ve established lifestyles that don’t include Mormon worship. Most of these people do not call themselves ExMormons.
Others have encountered a problem with the Church. This encounter can take several forms: 1) The member has been offended by someone in the local congregation. Since the Church has a lay priesthood, and everyone serves in temporary callings, the offender might have been in a leadership position. The person offended blames the Church and estranges himself. 2) The member begins to live in such a way that his/her behavior is against church standards. This can include drinking or smoking, engaging in gambling or watching pornography, or engaging in sexual sin. The member has two choices — he can go through a process of repentance and reconcile with the Church; or he can abandon the Church and follow the chosen lifestyle. If the former member finds fault with the Church, it can give him an excuse to give in to the chosen lifestyle. 3) The member contrives a philosophy that is contrary to Mormon Doctrine. At this point, nothing happens. A person can believe whatever he wants and still be a member in full fellowship in the Mormon Church. But if the person decides that the Church should change to suit him, and he begins to crusade to that effect, he can be excommunicated as an apostate.
The Mormon Church is different than all other churches in that it is led by a prophet of God. Its doctrines come from Christ through revelation. So its policies can only be changed by the Lord Himself. If a member feels that he knows best what doctrine and policy should be, he should find another church or create his own. Excommunication is meant to be part of the process of repentance, and church leaders are supposed to constantly nurture an excommunicated member towards reconciliation with God and the Church. But some excommunicated members have no desire for reconciliation. They would rather go their own way.
At this point, some ExMormons become anti-Mormon. Much information about the Church that comes from ExMormons is blatantly false and meant to destroy the Church, or at least defame it. In the time the Prophet Joseph Smith was alive, ExMormons spread vile, false claims that brought bitter persecution against church members, to the extent that many lost property and some lost their lives. Joseph Smith said this:
“There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p321).
Thus, if a person outside the Church wants information about Mormons, it is best not to seek it from an ExMormon. The television series Big Love uses an ExMormon as its “expert,” and that is why so many falsehoods are perpetrated on the show. The biggest is that Mormons practice polygamy. Mormons do not, and have not since 1890. Any Mormon attempting to practice polygamy is excommunicated from the Church. (To read about more errors in the program, click here.) Anyone wanting information about Mormons and the Mormon Church should inquire of a member in full fellowship.