https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2021/05 ... -my-heart/
Excerpts I found poignant:
Up until then, Davis thought Latter-day Saints had one another’s backs. When he saw how many members around him were handling the crisis, cracks started to form in the foundation he had left.
“It broke the idea I had of the community a church can bring,” he said.
Davis stopped logging on to the virtual church services for a while. He said he still had faith in his beliefs but not in the institution and the people.
“When a faith crisis happens, there’s a disconnect between the two,” he said. “For me, it’s that your beliefs want you to stay, but the flaws of the institution push you away.”
He’s not alone in that feeling. During the pandemic, other Latter-day Saints also have been troubled by the behavior of fellow members, prompting them to view their church in a different light.
Bryan Mortensen has seen fellow Latter-day Saints wishing for a chance to prove their faith — just like the pioneers who came before them did when they were forced to flee to the West.
Then, Mortensen said, he saw those same members acting as though wearing masks and staying home were burdens too big to bear.
At first, the Bountiful resident said, it seemed to him as though the Lord had prepared the church for the pandemic. The faith had shifted toward home-centered, church-supported worship and study. Members had access to technology like Zoom. And church President Russell M. Nelson, the man they consider to be a prophet, seer and revelator, had been a renowned heart surgeon. So, initially, Mortensen felt proud of, and confident in, his church.
His confidence waned after seeing members’ actions.
Mortensen still considers himself a “fully engaged member” but said his worldview has shifted.
“I’m really disappointed by how the membership of the church reacted,” he said. “I know this sounds overly sentimental, but it’s less about anger. It just hurts my heart.”
“My perception of Christ and God is full of love and compassion and generosity,” she said. “What I was seeing through COVID and the summer and the election, it just became very apparent that I did not fit that culture.”
Morrison remembered reading an article on how to reach perfection within the church. The steps included paying a tenth of her income in tithing, making covenants and building a firm foundation. Those requirements confused her. Why would God require her to pay to get into the heaven he already promised her? Why should she give herself — and her children — expectations of perfection that she can’t reach?
She now believes that God accepts the basics, which Morrison said are to show compassion and love, do your best, personify Christ and be a good person.
Morrison was aghast after seeing members comment on social media when the church posted a photo of President Nelson getting his COVID-19 vaccination.
“The amount of vitriol that was poured out about that,” she said, “I was shocked.”
Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, said people usually think of faith crises as dealing with doctrine and history, but there can be social and cultural elements.
“It’s not a bunch of people who come around because they have the same ideas,” he said. “Churches are also communities.”
Experiencing faith crises as a result of other members rather than doctrine is common, since churches are full of people being people.
“Those people bump up against each other and you’ve got all these personalities and perspectives and worldviews,” Mason said. “There’s a lot of things that the people share, but sometimes those ideas or that heritage isn’t strong enough.”
In 2020, Latter-day Saints witnessed other members’ opinions on the pandemic, masks, vaccinations or politics. For many, the core doctrinal beliefs weren’t enough to ignore the jarring differences.
(Bishop) Spannaus acknowledged the year was full of “serious tests for everyone.” He said some ward members haven’t been coming to church, although he’s unsure if these absences are caused by faith issues or problems with other members.
If it’s the latter, he said, Latter-day Saints should remember that relationships with other members aren’t the most important part of the church.
“If your reason for being in the church is to be social or because you feel involved socially, that’s a good thing to have, but it won’t be enough,” Spannaus said. “Perhaps it sounds like a cliche, but in reality is the truth. It is about your relationship with God.”