Last fall, I wrote an essay, published in Sunstone, that detailed my struggle for testimony. In it, I discuss how my desire for truth led me into the dark side of Church history, causing a battle between my intellect and my spiritual ties to the Church. I also discuss how I’ve been affected by the dishonest dealings of some Church leaders concerning the Mark Hofmann bombings, which claimed the life of my father, Steve Christensen. Despite the “costs” of writing that essay, the blessings that have come are far greater. In this session, I discuss the pros and cons of opening up to those around me, including my experience with being made a scapegoat and used as a negative example to my missionary peers in the Ohio Columbus Mission. Mormons are expected to gain a “testimony” of the unique religious tenets of the Church. This expectation is so prevalent that those not able to testify to having such “knowledge” inevitably feel marginalized, unworthy, and suspect in the eyes of believers. One peculiar response to this expectation has been the creation of a group of Mormons I call “closet doubters,” active members of the Church who either pretend to “know,” or who remain silent and secretive about their plight. In this session, we will explore the reasons for this curiosity and the problems that confront closet doubters. I particularly invite those from faiths other than Mormonism to share their experiences. Does a similar phenomenon arise in other traditions?
Jared Christensen, D. Jeff Burton