Mormons have historically been expected to gain a “testimony” of the unique religious tenets of the Church. This expectation has been so prevalent that those not able to testify to having such “knowledge” typically feel marginalized, unworthy, and suspect in the eyes of believers. One peculiar response to this expectation has been the (unwitting) creation of a group of Mormons whom, twenty-plus years ago in Sunstone, I labeled “closet doubters”, active Church members who either pretend to “know,” or who remain silent and secretive about their not knowing. In this session, I will share my observations about how the environment for closet doubters has changed during the past two decades. Are the “testimony” expectations still as strong? How have they changed? Are there as many closet doubters now as there were then? Are conditions in the Church better now for their “coming out” to family, friends, and leaders? I invite a vigorous discussion and sharing of experiences!
D. Jeff Burton